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(Steve Adams for The Globe and Mail)
(Steve Adams for The Globe and Mail)

Facts & Arguments Essay

Father's Day without Dad Add to ...

Sunday will be just another day for me. No frantic last-minute trip to the mall for a cheesy card. No elation at hunting down that new toolbox he wanted.

It's just me and painful memories. I am a scared 12-year-old kid all over again. Wanting, wishing and waiting that Father's Day passes quickly.

Ever since I lost my dad 10 years ago, I have been trying to fill a hole. A hole in my heart so big I don't think it will ever close up. This void in my life haunts me.

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My father died unexpectedly and suddenly at the age of 42. A steel-factory worker for all of his life, he suffered a brain aneurysm while on the job.

I remember sitting in the same room for days, feeling suffocated by the hospital's sickly, off-white walls. We waited to hear the good news. My 12-year-old self just kept thinking, "Everything's going to be fine. He's going to pull through and this will all be over."

I had pushed the idea of my father dying so far back in my mind that when it finally happened, I was crushed. Wrapped in my aunt's arms, my body tried its best to reject the onslaught of emotion. Tears flowed. Snot ran down my nose. I couldn't breathe.

"I felt so helpless not to be able to shield you from the pain that I knew was coming those days he was in the hospital. I wish I could have done more," my aunt wrote in an e-mail to me on the anniversary of my father's death several years ago.

It was at that moment in the hospital the hole inside me began to burst open. While other 12-year-olds worry about pimples or middle-school feuds, I was struggling to deal with my father's death.

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Ever since, I have felt the most raw and exposed on Father's Day and on the anniversary of the day he died, Feb. 15. It's like a wild hunger. No amount of time could ever fully heal the pain. Father's Day, in particular, will always make that hole inside me feel deeper because my loss becomes a lot more obvious. While everyone else is gathering to show their love for their dad, I am in mourning.

I miss the little things about him: the way he'd rub his hands together; driving together in our baby-blue Thunderbird; making snow forts with him; seeing him get mad at my sister and me for throwing stuff around the house.

I miss hearing his voice, which is now a fleeting memory I try desperately to recall. I miss a father's love for his son. No one will ever love me like that again.

My father was a family man who, along with my mother, tried their hardest to turn our modest, semi-detached house into a home. It could never have looked like a dream home, but the happiest moments of my life remain inside those walls. It is a place I can still run back to when I can no longer handle the stress of school or living by myself in Toronto.

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Growing up, I used to have so many sleepless nights and panic attacks about us not having enough money to scrape by or my mother dying and being left completely parentless. This was something I had never thought about until my father died.

I am jealous of my older brother and sister, who have more memories of him than I do. My brother was 17 and my sister was 15 when he died. But I know the pain cuts just as deep for them as it does for me, perhaps even more.

"My happiness is filled with sadness without you to share it with," reads a yearly memorial my mother puts in the local paper. My university graduation earlier this month marked one of the many special occasions where I felt this way too.

When I am confronted with those moments in life that family comes together to celebrate, like graduations or my sister's wedding a few years ago, it hurts to know that my father is not there. That realization hits me hard. It stings.

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So when Father's Day arrives every year, it's me versus melancholy. My dad's death is, and will always be, the defining moment of my life. There are no words I could say, amount of tears I could cry or wishes I could make that will ever bring him back. I hope he thinks I turned out okay, despite his absence.

If there's one thing I have taken from my loss, it's that you can find strength in vulnerability. His death has made me more resilient. I am motivated to be an achiever at everything I do so something beautiful and positive can come out of my darkest and most painful experience. I don't want his death to mean nothing.

Most of my life will be lived without my father in it, a fact I still have a hard time accepting. But I'm getting there. Slowly. As someone who lost a parent as a child, I am part of a club that no one wants to belong to. Unfortunately, there are no perks in being a member.

So I wait. I wait for this day to pass and I wait for a day when I can look back on my life and be at peace with my dad's death. That day may never come, but I'll keep waiting.

Dad, I miss you beyond all measure.

Happy Father's Day.

Corey James Allen lives in Toronto.

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