My goodness! I have been floored by your enthusiastic responses to the sneak peek at *my room of my own*. I never imagined you’d find it that interesting, let alone inspiring ☺. I’ve waited so long for it (try 41 years!) so it’s no wonder I’m fired up with enthusiasm and ideas as to how I want to use and decorate it. I promise I’ll post some more photos soon, including close-ups of the little bits you seem most interested in. But enough about that. So many of you have been kindly emailing, Facebooking and texting me, asking me how I’m going. So today, I thought I’d let you in on my thoughts at the moment.
|Christmas 1981 watching present opening - a quiet moment captured|
Counting the weeks
This whole grieving thing is so odd. I’ve been through it with two grandparents, an uncle and a close family friend. But nothing can prepare you for losing your parent.
I have been struggling through the past weeks (6 today since Dad died). Yes, I'm still at the 'counting the weeks' stage. Do any of you relate to that? I used to do it when the pixies were newborns. This time around, although it’s such a different reason for counting. I don’t consciously do it – it just strikes me every Wednesday. I guess that will pass with time.
My doctors tell me that dealing with the loss of a loved one can take at least a year to reach a manageable level of acceptance. It’s helped to know that.
The lawyer in me thinks “There’s no statute of limitations for grief” – it can bob up again, years down the track, just when you least expect it.
I doubt you ever really *get over it* but rather, learn to live with it. And I guess, gradually, the pain ebbs away a bit.
Feeling the rawness
It all feels so raw, especially when I visit Mum and see all Dad's things there. It is so painful to see. They have spent the past 34 years there and had nearly 50 years together, so there are so many reminders of their life together but also because it was our family home. I lived with Mum and Dad until I married, aged 28, so the house is spilling over with memories for me.
Mum keeps finding my old possessions or things she doesn’t want anymore so I invariably head home from a visit with more tangible reminders of Dad, triggering more emotions.
Noticing Dad’s absence
I am feeling the difference between Dad's 'presence' and 'absence' most keenly. It’s amazing what a difference changing a few letters can make to a word.
He’s just not there anymore. I guess I’m struggling with that finality. I know he’s gone. I know that on a *rational level*. But my head is still grappling with it.
I don’t expect to see sitting in his armchair with the blanket we gave him for his 75th birthday.
I don’t expect him to answer the phone when I ring up Mum.
I certainly don't want him to go on living like he was at the end – it was just devastating to see such a proud and noble gentleman so reduced and enfeebled.
But then I find myself with questions I want to ask him. Like whether I can transplant a lavender bush from one part of the garden to the other without it dying. Or whether I should get a building inspector to do an audit of our new house as we didn’t do one before we bought it so we know what work needs to be done and when. That sort of stuff. He had such a wealth of knowledge to tap into. I guess now I’ll have to find someone else to ask.
I’m not tormenting myself with the ‘if only’ scenarios of life. I’ve really tried to *live in the moment* with Dad for the past 2 years since we returned to Hobart from Sydney.
About a fortnight before he died, I had the great fortune of spending two evenings with him when he was extraordinarily lucid. I seized my chance and told him everything I wanted to say about what a wonderful father he had been. He took it in and gave his trademark little giggle, bashfully. He had understood every word of it.
A wave of relief and calmness flowed through me. To have that chance was such a blessing.
My regret centres on the disappointment he has missed out on seeing the pixies grow up as he cherished them so much. And the bond he and I shared was just so strong (tears are spilling down my face as I write this) that I can't imagine his not being there for me.
The bitter-sweetness of life
Life feels so bitter-sweet right now. We have our treasured pixies, this gorgeous house and garden with so many possibilities and long-cherished dreams we can finally carry out.
That is leavened by the immense pain I feel about losing Dad.
My faith is comforting me with the thought that he’s in a better place now, surrounded by his loved ones who have gone before him, and he’s pain-free.
Joshua and India have grasped this concept remarkably well. They reassure me that "It's okay, Mummy. When we get to heaven, Pa will tell us all the things he's been doing up there". Oh, to have the blind and unshakeable faith of a child. Sammy, however, just walks up to me, unprompted, and says “Papa. Sad.” My heart breaks.
The unbearable lightness of being
It's weird - such a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders that I can't get the phrase 'the unbearable lightness of being' out of my head. It's one of my favourite books and films and really resonates with me. I feel like I’m floating, untethered. I need to feel more grounded, somehow.
Of course, that's inevitable with the pixies but I'm looking for it in another sense. I think I need to start crafting again, making something with my idle hands, feeling like I'm making a difference and leaving my mark on the world. Does any of this make sense to you all?
I also know Dad would want me to get stuck into crafting more love and individuality into our little home, making it our own. But I have to be careful to pace myself. Otherwise, I find myself manically scrubbing at minute specks of mould in the shower or hacking ivy away with my bare hands. I can become a little OCD-ish and need to make sure I take my medication on time.
Where to next?
Where to next?
A dear and wise friend told me recently to ‘go gently’ - that's my aim, although it's hard.
Yes, grief is hard and long and I don't know where it will lead me. What I am really trying to focus on is this proverb sent to me by a dear friend.
Let’s see how I go. I’d love to hear if you have any thoughts about how you’ve coped with grief like this. All suggestions are most welcome. Let’s share our insights. Maybe one little phrase might help someone reading this. Or me!