The longest day in what feels like the longest year, June 21, 2020 is the first day of summer or summer solstice. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin word, solstitium — from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped). The sun will appear to stop moving in the sky as it reaches its northernmost point.

This year June 21st is also Father’s Day, founded by Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman who lost her mother as a teenager. Out of that loss and grief Dodd had to assist her father in raising her younger siblings and held him in great regard. After hearing about Mother’s Day, she felt her father deserved a day of celebrating as well. 

I too, hold my father in great regard for all that he did for me and my sibling. However, he is no longer in my life; it has been a few years now. He changed and I cannot really explain it.

Perhaps all the systemic mental and physical health, trauma, capitalist work environment, toxic stress and other corrosive disadvantages and weathering that are known to cause illness finally reached him; that is what research shows and real experiences demonstrate.

“Social justice is a matter of life and death,” the World Health Organization declared in a recent report.

I do not often think of him anymore. But when the Coronavirus pandemic first started and reports were coming out about who it would most effect, I did. Older people, people with diabetes, and people of color. My father was all of those. 

I am reminded again of him with Father’s Day ads promoting the holiday and companies promoting the perfect gifts for dads; I will likely have to endure this long day of stillness and reflection.

I imagine that this day I will spend just being grateful for the good memories I do have. I plan to take the time to think of those I know whose fathers have passed too soon from COVID-19, are imprisoned and detained, or are forced to separate by country. 

The longest day is called the longest day because the sun is in the sky for longer than any other day of the year. I hope that it will not feel only long, but bright and full of stillness for us to reflect on what we have had to grieve and why.

The day I walked away from my Father was the longest day in my life until that point. Ever since that day I refuse to stand by while injustices take people and life away from each other.

June 21st will not be the longest but the brightest thanks to the fullness of memories, the blessing of life and the hope for a just future.