In the last week I marked my Dad’s third death anniversary and hit day 2,000.

In a couple of days it will be exactly three years since the funeral. Why do I still remember the number of days and the dates ? The dates are just etched in my head, I can’t help it.

I had all the grab handles removed from my Dad’s bathroom and the house yesterday. This wasn’t timed but it happened on day 2,000. There was mix feeling of this is the right thing to do with am I actually doing this! All the handles I personally bought. The joiner asked if I had been present when they had been installed of course, I said. All of the ‘work’ was done in a state of emergency I was doing everything to help my Dad get around the house as independently as possible and he appreciated it too. He would be so happy yet very tired when in the last days he could still walk from the bathroom to the conservatory holding on to the grab handles which by the way were all located on the right hand side as my Dad only had the use of his right hand following the stroke. My adorable Dad would walk with a sense of achievement just like a child and he never ever gave up no matter how frustrating and tiring it was for him.

It was his spirit that I love and still admire. May be a bit of his spirit has rubbed off on me well I hope so anyway.

With all the handles off my initial reaction when the joiner asked if I was happy with how he had tried to fill the holes with a similar colour to the tiles and wall paint was it is ok no matter what I will always see those dots on the walls and remember where the grab handles were. My next job of course was to make sure the handles were going to a good home so I rang the charity I volunteer for and they have agreed to re use them for the many senior citizens in our local area which the charity supports. This way I can at least tell myself that the handles are not being discarded and will be of some use to somebody else trying to hang on to their independence that feels good..

So that is the story of the grab handles but I have so many of my father’s belongings that I need to re home and I keep saying to myself I will get to that task when I am good and ready. You’d think after 3 years I ought to be ready!

As for the dreaded third anniversary it felt like the hardest for me. I was just not in the mood to celebrate my dad’s life I was thinking yes his passing at the grand old age of 95 was right but I miss my best buddy terribly and no, I don’t feel so cheerful after all.

It has been a while since I have had a good cry but I was deeply sad on the day of the anniversary that I went into emotional meltdown. On reflection I am stunned but I can still feel this as a write this. The next day I met a friend I am not sure what came over me but for the first time in three years I actually sobbed my heart out for a good ten minutes. My friend said I have been trying so hard to keep things together so that the grieving continues. This is probably true, I have had no choice but to be strong and carry on. I have read quite a bit about loss and grief so there is plenty of evidence including my own first hand experience that we find ourselves in this new territory for which we have no training manual. We think we know how to live but learning to live after the death of a significant loved one is not something we actually know how to deal with.

My friend said we slip and slide, and again we go on. That is so true. Compared to the suffering we are surrounded by I tell myself I am grateful for the years of love and happiness I shared with my amazing father. I have a lot to be grateful for. My rational head understands that perfectly but when it comes to the heart and the soul it is a totally different matter entirely. What took me by surprise was the sobbing and that too after three years, was I really still holding on to so much pain? I must be where else did this come from.

My Dad and I would often discuss well my Dad would ask me how I would deal with his death. My response was always a confident and on reflection an over confident response that I would be fine and that I would just get on with it. The truth was the opposite. This is my very own Robin Island journey. Yes, it is in no way hard as Nelson Mandela’s journey but hard nonetheless for me on a micro level. The paradox of all this is I have grown through my pain and I have a bit more wisdom and enlightenment (though I am sure my Dad will say you have a long way to go dear daughter) mixed with a bit of recklessness. I say recklessness because I say to myself I have been through the worse kind of pain nothing now can ever beat me down. So the paradox is strength vs vulnerability. What a fantastic contrast. Still I look back on the past three years and say I wouldn’t have had it any other way just as I would not have wanted to love my father any less. Pain of separation is the price we pay for love and as they say it is better to have loved and lost than not loved at all.

If you are reading this for some comfort I am no expert but I can say this much it is the painful episodes in our life which make us appreciate the goodness in people and the universe so pain is just as much as necessary as joy. In dealing pain we have to be true to ourselves and deal with it in our own unique way. There is no right or wrong way but we find own way of coping and it definitely helps if we are blessed with good people in our lives, I certainly am.

Peace be with you.