It’s been 18 months since my hard arse, strict and ever loving and supportive father was taken before his time and in that time I’ve had numerous people ask me how I am, how I’m coping and I’ve gone with the honest, sometimes hiding the real truth of an answer: I’m doing the best that I can. And it’s true. I am. There’s no manual about how to deal with the loss of a parent, there’s no concrete handbook on grief that is personalised for you to work through. There’s only life and it continues like nothing has changed. It’s really okay that there’s a hole in my life and my heart for a man that I used to lean on.
A man that would drive me crazy with his strict no’s and tough love; a man that was so proud of me that he gushed to anyone who would listen.
I’ve restrained from posting too much because I don’t want to be one of those over bearing people who have nothing else to say but I have to say that even after 18 months: I’m not okay.
I never will be okay. My dad is not going to around for life changing moments, not in the physical sense anyway, and it kills me.
I’m keep pushing and trodding through the grief I masked with laughter and continuation, but honestly, it’s killing me. It’s affecting everything I do and I never realised it did until today, when I was faced with something that got me so riled up that I realised that I was pushing it all away because not dealing with it seems to fill the gap that he left.
For the first time in 18 months I dialled his number, knowing fully well that his work disconnected his phone in the days after his death. I still have him saved in my favourites because I’m too scared that deleting him will somehow start the trend that I will start to forget him.
I still remember his smell. The tobacco laced Lomani scent that lingered in the car, on his side of the bed, in my memory. As much as I hated him smoking, I’d do anything to smell it again and I did. A year ago on a train where I was almost livid I smelt it again and I had to restrain myself from sobbing, almost like the time that I swear I saw him on the train and had to do a double look.
He’s out there, he’s watching, I know it but sometimes I want to just hear him talk to me, tell me to not cry because I was so angry that all I could do was sob as he tsked and tried to calm me down.
But I don’t want him to be out there watching me. I want him back, physically, emotionally, just here. I thought I was doing okay. I thought I was dealing with it, but more and more I realise that I’m running from dealing with it. I’m running from the pain that is so deep that is brings me to my knees. It has me kneeling on the floor in child pose, sobbing because his stupid Dad jokes don’t feel my life.
Everyone is telling me that the best way to remember him is to keep living, and I know it is. I’m living, but something that one of my gorgeous cousins said to me earlier this week, is that this sort of shit isn’t meant to happen to me. It happens to others, but not to me. It’s not meant to happen to me. Sickness, cancer, heart attacks. My family is meant to be untouchable. We’re somehow meant to be above it all. And maybe that’s why stuff like this happens. It reminds us that we need to be rooted in our life, present in every moment and feel everything with such a ferocity that life isn’t mean to be boring or upsetting.
I have learned more in the last 18 months that I have in my entire life. I’ve learned that I have a backbone and sometimes it needs to be tested again and again for me to grow. I’m tested constantly, whether it’s myself, through my work or even my writing. There is no lesson that is too short. Too hard that I can’t deal with.
But it all starts with owning up to the fact that I’m not ok. I’m taking risks I wouldn’t normally do; I’m meeting people I wouldn’t have dreamed of meeting and making friendship that have me moved to tears because I’m allowed to be as supportive as I am. As I always have been. I get gorgeous gifts and invitations; I have soul nourishing conversations and heart wrenching hugs that make me want to sob at how right they feel to be in that persons arms.
I learned that always saying goodnight to someone and good morning is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, nor should the fact that you should tell your loved ones how much you adore and love them because the next moment they may be gone. The last conversation I had with my dad was a typical joking conversation about his new split lip; his war scar; his sense of humour was vast, never wavering and I’m grateful.
I sat down tonight, three days from the 18 month anniversary of his death and wanted to have him sitting in front of me. I meditated, something that I know I don’t do enough of because I’m scared of the feelings it brings up time and time again but I asked to see him and he was there in my minds eye. He was smiling and I was instantly comforted. I wanted to talk to him, but just like when he appears in my dreams he says nothing he just smiles and I get that warm fuzzy feeling but it’s not enough.
It’s never enough, but it’s the life that I have to live with now. He’s around but not, he’s with me, but he’s not. I never pictured my life without him in my life and now being forced to I have tried to stay positive; tried to stay upright, but I’m losing that battle and I’m learning that in order to work through it I have to be gentle with myself; gentle with every emotion that come my way and every trial and tribulation.
Why am I writing this? Because I needed to. I felt called to sit down and write about this all. I didn’t even realise that in 3 days it was the 18 month anniversary of his death, it didn’t even click until I sat down to work it out.
Dad, I miss you every fucking day and I hate that I don’t get to have you in my life, physically anymore, but I hope that you know that just because I bury the emotions doesn’t mean that I don’t love you or miss you any less.
I want you all to go and hug your near and dear, text them if you live in another state, tell them how much they mean to you and how much you adore them. Thank them for everything they do and make sure you’re seriously grateful.
And I ask you to hold me in your thoughts, because grief is messy, I don’t ask for help, but if you think I need it, give it to me, lend me a shoulder, give me a hug. I won’t say no to the help, and if I do, keep pushing. Remind me that you’re here for me because I’m too proud to accept help sometimes, even when I need it, I’m my father’s daughter in that aspect because I like to deal with my problems by myself but sometimes I need help. Something I need reminding, just remember that.