It has been six years since we buried my father; six orbits around the sun, a sentiment that conjures up in my mind an image of my niece spinning round with her arms out stretched, smiling face turned up towards the sun whose light makes her blonde her shine golden… These two things don’t match up though, my dad died before my niece’s existence was anything more than star dust and she’s probably not yet old enough to understand more than everyone has a mummy and a daddy but for many unfamiliar reasons some children only seem to have one, including her mummy and me.
Today six years ago family and friends gathered to remember him, but it is not this same day… Today it is been raining and the earth is gratefully soaking up the moisture after a long hot bank holiday, six years ago I remember it being sunny and bright. Six years ago today was Tuesday, and felt like an extension of the long bank holiday weekend, this year it is Wednesday and feels like the summer is starting to slip away.
Looking back to standing with my siblings six years ago puts me in mind of a group of fledglings all about to move out from the family home and carve a place in the big wide world for ourselves, now my younger siblings are grown-ups; some with children, some married, some home owners, some engaged. All with new friends and family that my dads existences has no meaning for. Not Earth grounded, personal experience meaning anyway.
I still struggle with grieving; I’m not sure if I still am, if I have or if I have even started yet. There are singers who’s music I still cannot listen to or that make me want to cry if I hear their songs unexpectedly on the radio through not wanting to remember but the ends or changing of TV series my dad enjoyed have bought a lump to my throat through not wanting to forget or lose these reminders of him. I feel guilty for not taking flowers or visiting his grave more often but don’t feel that where he is buried has any connection to him or who he was. On days I am not feeling strong I get angry and upset with the world for changing and leaving my dad behind but on others days push forward in becoming the grown-up I now am and with the life I want to create, all be it without him.
My dad wasn’t ready to die, even after years of being ill and in pain, and so we fought dying with him. We refused to let the hospital give up, we didn’t have those conversations about what he wanted after he was gone or how he wanted to be remembered, perhaps it would have been easier if we had, if there had been a plan… but there wasn’t and I can’t bring myself to think of my dad knowing he was going to die and how scared that would have made him feel.
Or perhaps having those conversations or a plan would have left a feeling of “we gave up too soon…” who knows.
When someone dies a doctor has to sign the death certificate which they charge a fee for, I didn’t know that until my dad died. When my mum went to get all the paper work sorted the doctors at the hospital refused this fee and that acknowledgement that we’d done everything we could still brings me pride and comfort (please, if I am deluded that this fee waving is not common practise and it was not an acknowledgement of all we had done and doctors often refuse this cold-hearted expense, be kind and do not shatter my illusion).
The idea of mourning a parent is such a completed one; no matter how many you have, or whether they are present or completely absent they have such a role in shaping who a person becomes; the believes they have, what their hopes, dreams, worries and fears are, how someone views the world and someone’s understanding of what is right and just… That shaping near dies and carries on having a ripple effect on existence for generation after generation. But a parents presence is what is mourned after they are gone; the promise that when you climb too high and get stuck there is someone to climb up after you and bring you back down, even if you’ve long stopped climbing trees and been too big for a parent to carry in their arms for many years. That promise being gone forever, for me, is what hurts the most.