Dad’s absence is a great-gaping hole in my heart, my life, my home. I feel like all my senses are on high alert, awaiting his return. My heartache is a yearning for any familiar sounds, anything that can disprove this inevitable truth.
I wonder where this yearning-not-believing comes from. With Dad being in and out of hospital for the past nine months, I suppose it could have come from there: those feelings of anticipation for his safe homecoming have perhaps taken lodge in my heart.
I’ve already spoken about my disbelief and self-preservation, an apparently natural part of grief.
But then there’s the other, third explanation.
I sat with my Dad every evening. The TV would be on, and sometimes we would watch something together. We would talk about my children, my sisters, my neice and nephew. Sometimes, when he was particularly sad and thoughtful, he’d question me about my mum leaving us and her bipolar disorder. I loved hear him talk about his past, perhaps more because my grandparents had died long before Dad had married mum and had us. Sometimes, Dad and I spoke about our belief in an afterlife. These conversations were more frequent in his last months.
Dad and I are not religious. Not really. We were both Christened and attended church schools. We rarely attended church. Dad, because he was always working and me because that was not what I was brought up with, except those years when I was with the Guides. But, we do have faith.
We believed in the beauty and magic of the world; too awe-inspiring to be anything other than crafted by God. We believed in miracles. We believed that life was too wondrous to end in nothing, that the special energy that makes each human being an individual must go somewhere. Dad said recently that “it must be nice to believe so whole-heartedly in heaven” because then you would feel comfort when someone died and you would not fear death as much as someone who didn’t believe. I don’t know if that’s true.
I think about how my sisters and I have the same genetics, how we were raised the same way by the same people. And yet our personalities are so different. I think about my Dad in that coffin and how, although he looked like he was peacefully sleeping, the essence of him was not there. Where did it go?
I believe that I will see my Dad again. My heart aches in anticipation of it. Is that what grief is then? Missing, yearning, loving – yes – but a cold, long anticipation too? Is my grief different then to those who don’t believe? Is that why we don’t get over someone dying?
I realised yesterday that if I’m lucky, I may get to live my whole life again before I die. I’m 38 now – Dad died at 78. I could have another 40 years without my Dad. I can’t believe that. I can’t believe it. How will I live without him there?