The Omnipresence of Absence

June is warm and full of the promise of a hot St. Louis summer.

June also contains Father's Day.

My dad passed away on Dec. 22, 2006. He was 52.

While I have had the opportunity to feel this loss for close to 8 years, there is always that nagging feeling that my father isn't among the living. It is a more intense version of leaving my house without my cell phone or my wallet. Others cannot see what isn’t there, but I feel the itch under my skin. It is the buzz of the clandestine fly in my dark bedroom as I try to sleep.

In June, he is everywhere, and he is nowhere.

He is gone, and he is holding my hand.

He is the air.

I spoke to him the night before he passed then found him the next day. His body lukewarm and beyond saving, a gift given to me and taken away abruptly. 

Bereavement is also more challenging if the relationship is dependent. My dad and I had a fiercely strong relationship.

Every week or so since his death, I have a dream where I am speaking to him on the phone. I hear his voice and with tears in my eyes I ask him where he is, but when I wake, I can never remember the answer. 


Today, because I enjoy causing own self pain or something of that sort,  I called my fathers cell phone. Despite the number being saved in my contacts, I dialed it from memory, unsure of what I would get on the other line. After nearly eight years, would it be someone new assigned to my fathers number? The number that so often called to check up on his only child, or called to scold her for some teenage-lack-of-responsibility.

"The person you are trying to reach is unavailable. Please try again later".

Well no shit, Elizabeth, he's dead, has been for 7 years 5 months and 10 days.
There is no "try again later".


Ugly sobs filled my empty two bedroom apartment. The sort of sobs that make you feel clean after you've cried them.

This Father's Day, I will breathe in the words never spoken and will breathe out acceptance.

I will sit in the omnipresence of my dad’s absence, and I will take time to grieve and to remember how he created me, and greatly influenced who I am today.
I will maybe even ride my bicycle because he taught me how.
I will look at my eyes and hair in the mirror and remember that they are from him.
I will laugh.
I will live my life for all of the moments that he did not let himself enjoy.
I will hold a space in my day to remember that he was, and still is, a pillar of strength for me.


  1. Liz, Such a moving piece. I have tears in my eyes as I read it again. I wasn't that close to my dad and your writing makes me feel the emptiness of that loss even more. Thank you for sharing.


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