My friend once told me that if she could have any dad, not having had one herself for most of her life, she would choose my dad.
He has been a perfect dad in so many ways.
Teaching us to catch a ball, sat facing each other in the living room: throwing and catching, throwing and catching. Teaching us to ride a bike. Teaching us to swim. Then there are the things he made us. Wooden stilts, swings, a tree house. Beautiful carved models of the things we love. My garden – just the way I planned it.
The animals we (he) cared for… Rabbits, Guinea pigs, horses, dogs.
Experiences… Walking through the woods with his gundog. Making the same dog pull us on a sledge over the snowy ground. The annual walk to the ‘haunted house’ at Halloween. Caravan Holidays. Vegetable picking. Flower picking. Going with him on ‘the round’: helping him as he delivered his produce to greengrocers.
The endless conversations as we have grown up: Dad was always there to listen, advise.
Our handsome, strong, caring… Perfect… father.
How do you cope with losing someone who has been a huge part of your life for 38 years? How do you manage without that person being in your life every day?
What will my days look like? What will happen in the evening when I no longer go to sit with him, listen to him?
You cannot predict how you will grieve. For me, my grief has been a bubbling stream: constantly moving, changing, present. Then a dam burst and I can’t breathe, think… The pain feels like it will tear me in half. Then, numbness… so ice-cold that I don’t feel alive.
Dad’s only been gone five days. I still haven’t accepted it. I go into his living room and it’s like he has just stepped out for a moment. Every night, I pick up his jacket just to smell him… Pretending in my head that I’m hugging him goodnight. Am I losing it? Is this normal?
I’ve found my journal to be a good companion and a comfort. I started it five years ago when Dad was first diagnosed with lung cancer. I’ve written lots of memories; at night, when I couldn’t sleep; at his hospital bed with tears streaming and his hand in mine.
Dad’s funeral is a week tomorrow.