This is supposed to get easy and yes I am supposed to get better at this but it doesn’t always work like that. I have been quiet of late as during December I struggled with yet another Christmas without my Dad and yet another anniversary. I almost forgot that I can slide back and feel sad. The combination of the festive season, the anniversary and the arrival of the new year has made December my dreaded month so I kind of gave in. I retreated and felt sorry for myself. With January came the 6th anniversary of the funeral. I remember I was working from home on my laptop and out of nowhere tears came streaming down my face. I wondered if anyone else actually knew what date it was then I thought what an unreasonable expectation on my part. I lived with him and I lived his death. He is my father and my father only.
“Sometimes the finest command of language is to say nothing”. David Baird
This line says it all. Words sometimes don’t do justice. During December I decided to read a book I had read soon after my father’s passing to see how far I had come and how I felt. So I read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. His writing captured my heart that I finished the book in one sitting. My conclusion was that his words and sentiments still resonated but I had become a bit more pragmatic. I felt a sense of humility that like so many out there who have had to endure the loss of a very important person in their lives, I too had gone through the ‘fire’ and I understand. C.S. Lewis talks of how he questioned everything including the presence of God.
Hilary Mantel describes his book very eloquently she says ” Lewis’s book is a lucid description of an obscure, muddled process, a process almost universal, one with no logic and no timetable”. That says it all. A deeply enlightening yet painful experience with no logic or time frame is a good description of grief.
My father’s role in my life is so huge that the void is equally massive hence the retreat to make sense. I am of course glad that he is not in physical distress but the hole in my being is my sense of belonging, my home. Where he was there I belonged now I am drifting with no anchor and no shore to reach. I don’t know if all orphan adults relate to this but I remember once my Dad said after his 86 year old mother passed that even though he had his family and me, the one person whom he would go home to was his mother. Without her he felt adrift as I do without him.
It is a strange existence on the one hand one keeps going to do what one must and as they say life goes on regardless. On the other hand our lives come to an abrupt halt and in fact our lives are changed forever only we don’t get to comprehend how much until months and years after. The other day I went for a long run and ran past our old home. I looked up where my bedroom used to be and remembered how my Dad had given each room a name. So we had the blue room, the pink room and so on. I smiled thinking how meticulous he was even his methodical filing system was second to none. There is even a sling in the filing cabinet with a label ‘Sweet and sour’! I have not altered the filing system and I have found myself doing the same thing he used to do but I didn’t then take much notice, or so I thought. Instead of using post it notes he would always use the back of a used paper by carefully cutting it with a ruler so that each piece of paper was the exact size. This would be our stash of scrap paper to write the shopping list or list of jobs to do. I do it exactly how he used to do I mean I cannot even bring myself to open a letter without using a letter opener or draw a line without using a ruler, all things I unconsciously picked up from him.
He was ahead of his times back in the days when we didn’t talk so much about the environment I remember he wrote on the white board “BUY LESS, USE LESS AND RECYLE” I also remember with a degree of pride how my father got a big picture of Nelson Mandela, which he prominently placed on the back wall of our shop this was well before Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990. I can still see the words on the picture it read Free Madiba. Many of our customers thought we were from South Africa which was funny as we have no connections there. He was a man with a strong sense of civic duty and a citizen of the world.
Thinking of my Dad I feel immensely proud and blessed that I had the chance to spend time with this great man whom I call my father. What he meant to me only I will know and I am sure you must feel the same about your loved one. We share through the medium of this blog a synergy of hope and understanding of what is after all a universal experience. Love and loss are two sides of the coin, we can’t have one without the other yet I am sure you too wouldn’t want it any other way..
Peace be with you.
20th February 2020.