‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’
Au contraire, Sir Elton John. I think you’ll find Goodbye is distinctly tougher.
It’s now been a month since my Dad passed away unexpectedly. He had a major brain stem infarction (stroke) and his body just couldn’t cope. He’d already been fighting cancer, pneumonia, emphysema and several other more minor ailments. He had however been given a green light to go home and continue with chemotherapy in the new year, so to lose him the day before he was due to be discharged was a massive shock. To an extent, I think that shock is still sinking in. In the four weeks since he died, we’ve had Christmas, my Birthday, NYE and then what would have been Dad’s 74th Birthday. It’s been a brutal few months for the entire family.
I broke on a fairly large scale at the funeral. I think it was a culmination of everything. This time last year he had back pain that got progressively worse. The day after our wedding in October, I found out he had cancer (after he made the family keep it secret from me to protect me). Weeks later he was in intensive care and we were told to expect the worst. Then, against all odds he fought his stubborn ass off to get the discharge note we’d all been distantly dreaming of. The happiness and relief of that news juxtaposed with sitting in a crematorium with his coffin in front of us just hit like a cold hard punch. I haven’t cried like that in a long, long time.
I know the funerals play a huge part in the grieving process, I guess it’s the ‘saying goodbye’ aspect. But, as we left the service I found myself unable to even think the word, let alone take it in and feel what it really meant. When we visit family (they live a couple of hours away) we say goodbye as we get in the car to drive home fully knowing that it’s a temporary salutation. This is something different, in ways that I never really thought I’d notice. If I say Goodbye to my Dad now, it’s knowing and completely accepting that I will not be seeing him again. On a logical level I already know this, but I am not done grieving and I feel like I need to hang onto that final Goodbye. Not forever of course, but I want it to come when it’s ready and mark a change in my grief that means I’m finally finding a new normal. I don’t want to force myself past this despair and I feel like I’m finally understanding the true nature of loss. That it isn’t just. In fact it can be cold, cruel and desperately unfair.
The slightly ironic thing is that my Mum and I have strengthened our relationship with close relatives of my Dad, that before weren’t quite as infallible (in large part because of different circumstances and distance). I feel so grateful that we’ve got each other while we work through such a tough time.
It’ll get better, I know it will. It’s taken me this long to be able to put my grief into writing, which considering I can normally write about anything and everything is quite a big deal. It goes a long way to explaining just how heartbroken I am at the moment.
To the few people that read my blog though, worry not. Normal frenetic service shall be resumed in due course…Promise.