It is nearly two years since I lost my Dad. How can that length of time seem both like forever and yesterday? How can I have total recall on conversations with him from 10 years ago but go over and over in my mind our last week together, trying to recall the “last things” we spoke of. The last hug. The last laugh. The last………………..That is the trouble. You never know it will be the last time until it is.
Not a day goes by that I do not think of him, long to see him, long to just sit next to him and chat. And laugh. Sure, the passing of time makes his loss easier to bear each day but that too is a testament to me wanting to “do him” proud and also to not drag others down with my grief, bore them even. I know that being 51 years old brings me to the time in my life where parents are going to pass away. My friends are going to start to lose their parents if they haven’t already. Some have known this loss at far too young an age too. However, your age does not lessen ones grief.
Everyone has lost someone at some stage of their life. We are all grieving something. That is why we should always be kind. You just never know the weight of a burden someone carries. We all walk around with smiley faces that mask our daily struggles. We do this because life goes on. Life moves forward. And we hope that life brings as much joy as it does sorrow.
My Dad brought me nothing but love, laughter and an abundance of joy. I know I also brought him much laughter and I am sure I brought him different things too. Stress, grey hair and sleepless nights come to mind, during my teenage years especially. But he and I were lucky to be each other’s number one fan. I often describe the bond we shared as a “big love.” It really was. How he loved me shaped me into the woman I am today, of that, I have no doubt. He made me feel like I was invincible, his feisty daughter who was capable of anything. He made me feel beautiful; his blue eyes would twinkle when he proudly introduced me to people. I’ve lost that sense of invincibility, temporarily I hope, and with that lost confidence in many aspects of my life. I was Dad’s girl. So whose girl am I now? Am I capable of the job I am doing? Am I making the right decisions regarding my health? Am I giving the right advice to the boys when I am asked? I have never second-guessed myself this much ever.
And that’s the thing. When someone you love dies you don’t just lose that person physically. You lose what they brought to your life in so many aspects. How only they could make you feel is gone forever. How they looked at you. How they said your name. How they called you by a nickname that they had just for you. The songs you used to enjoy together. Johnny Cash has been on repeat in my car for weeks – Dad would love to know that. How they smelt. I can walk into a room and if a man is wearing Old Spice (my Dad’s favourite when I was a little girl) I am literally transported back to my childhood. It evokes feeling safe and sound. As I type this I am wearing my Dad’s old green gardening jumper. I like to tell myself that it smells of him but I don’t think it does. Nor does his hat, coat, gloves, hankies, or his flannelette shirt – all taken by me from his wardrobe after he died in a desperate attempt to hang on to him. Mum joked that if Dad and I shared the same jean and shoe size I could have had a complete “Don” outfit.
There are just so many things that are irreplaceable and unique to he and I and having his clothes is no substitute of course, but that green jumper………..I just love it.
I am really struggling with my health at the moment and the loss of our dog Izzy has left me very flat indeed. So of late, when I think of Dad, I usually end up in floods of tears. I was watching “Bridget Jones Baby” on DVD again the other day. What a fabulous, funny movie. But the scene where she is sitting on a bench chatting just to her Dad left me completely undone. I know they are acting but they did an exceptional job of conveying the strong connection between a father and daughter. A connection I miss on a daily basis.
Most days of late I just want to run back to the Isle of Wight (where we took his ashes last August as was his wish) and be with his/my family. Even to sit by “his” tree would be comforting. I know this too shall pass; grief is irrational, erratic and exhausting. But I feel like I am in the “thick” of it again.
I will share with you the poem I read out just before we scattered Dad’s ashes deep in the copse (forest) on his beloved Isle of Wight. The words will forever be appropriate for me.
Dad, you are loved and missed so very much.
Your song in my heart is so loud today.
“The Music Changed”
The day you died, the musical score of my life was forever changed.
A sad undertone was added.
Some days it is very loud.
Some days it is very soft.
But it is always there.
I am thankful for the days when I can hear the joyful melody of life.
I will listen to your song forever in my heart.
By Mardi Slagle Peaster.