A year. A whole year. It’s beyond belief, because in my heart he died a week ago. It’s still that raw, that painful.
But it’s a century since I’ve seen him. I’m forgetting his smell, his voice. That’s the sad part.
Today we visited the crematorium and laid a wreath. I felt nothing. Numb. Blank.
We then went to the hospital. For a year I’ve thought about what I’d give, what I’d write in the thank you cards. But I couldn’t face it.
Today, one year on, I knew I must.
It was like a time warp. Like I’d travelled back in time. Memories flooded; familiarity stimulated my heart. The sound of my footsteps on the stairs. The noise of the canteen. The smell of the corridors.
We saw the nurses who still fondly remembered our dad. We handed over the cards and gifts, emotions boiling under the surface. I remained calm, said what I needed to, and left as soon as I could.
Entering that ward, I felt like I was visiting him again. He was just in a side room, waiting for me, wondering where I had been and so grateful I’d arrived. A year disappeared in a heartbeat and my Dad was still alive.
As we left the ward, hearts over brimming with grief, I also felt a sense of pride. Dad would be so happy and proud of us for facing that, for passing on his gratitude. For handing over his beautiful hand carved ornaments, the last we own, to say thanks for his care. I felt his pride in my heart and I knew we had done the right thing even though grief was ripping through my body.
And so, it’s been a year. The hardest of my life.
I miss him every day. I wish for him every day. But I have a new kind of normal, one that misses him each day and feels his absence. The next stage of grief, I suppose.
I’m sending my love out to all those who are grieving. God bless you.
I can’t remember if I’ve told you this, but I’ve recently moved into my Dad’s old bedroom.
This is a big thing for me. That room has almost always belonged to my parents. Not long after he died, in a fit of grief, I emptied drawers, washed bedding.. And then left everything in bags in the room. A few weeks later the bed was taken out, and at my daughter’s insistence, became the holding bay for most of my belongings when we decided she would move into my room and I would move into hers (with its single bed) whilst I decorated Dad’s old room for my use.
It has remained a disorganised storage room for four months with the door firmly closed so I didn’t have to deal with it.
As fate would have it, a friend in need is staying with me for a little while, so two weeks ago I got stuck in and I am now in my new room. It’s not decorated and there is still a large box of Dad’s clothes that I can’t part with yet but I moved furnature and cleared out the clothes that Dad hardly wore.
Perhaps it was the right time, maybe it was because I wanted to help a friend, but after the initial struggle to get started on the room as tears steamed down my face, I feel comfortable in the space now.
What I find most striking about the change (I was in my old room for thirteen years) is actually the view from the window. As a child, long before the extension was built when I bought the house off my parents, I slept in the two back bedrooms at various times. Both looked out at the back yard and the outbuildings of the farm.
As an adult, my new bedroom was in the extension and looked out at the fields at the front of the house: the same fields that helped me process my depression each morning as I sat drinking coffee with my cat on my knee.
In my new room, the window looks out over the front garden as it is the old side of the house.
The garden has so many memories for me. Playing in it as a child. Dad showing us the tadpoles and fish in the pond. Helping Dad garden. Dad pointing out the many birds that would visit his hand built bird table. Building snowmen. Dad ill but sitting in the garden in his pyjamas, his daughters fussing around him like a flock of sparrows.
Last spring we worked hard on the garden to make it a nice space for Dad to look at. It had been a long time since he was fit enough to garden and it had become overgrown.
As I look at it now, it looks a little overgrown again but Dad would have loved it. The periwinkle has reestablished itself in the borders. The snowdrops and daffodils have come and gone but tulips and other flowers are dotted around.
Each morning, I wake up and look out of the window. My eyes are always drawn to the bench in the corner of the garden, looking out at the pond, and I wonder every day whether I should replace it for a new one or continue to enjoy the faded paint but prominent memories of Dad.
Today, when I finished work, my sister visited. She told me that she had been to see a Medium who had told her that Dad was always with her. She mentioned many things she could not have known: gestures Dad always made, things he would say and understanding of personalities she didn’t know. As I have written before, there have been many incidents in the past year where I have felt like Dad has been communicating with me, somehow.
So when my sister said that Dad often sits on the bench, I gave a sigh. The bench is staying.
It goes without saying that I miss Dad every day. It’s a steady constant most of the time, a stream that runs through me and fuels my thoughts and feelings.
And, just like a stream, there are times when the missing-him swells, just a little. Or other times when it cascades over rapids and I can’t breath with the force of it.
Today was a little swell.
It’s been a busy day. A busy couple of days really. My sister and her family have carried on staying here since my trip to France and whilst I love them being here it is hard work. Three adults, two teens and two fives and under, as well as two large dogs and a clutch of cute puppies, sure know how to destroy a house. Having gone on holiday quite quick into the Easter break, I haven’t done my usual holiday cleaning, tidying and sorting. I’m fighting a losing battle. Extra effort is not making a blind bit of difference. I can’t keep it clean and I can’t keep it tidy. Today my mum visited which was lovely, but it added two more adults and another under five for the day.
I walked into the utility room and folded some clothes, just to get a breather. I checked myself – what the hell was wrong with me? A week ago I was desperately missing my sisters et Al, but today I’m screaming inside for silence. I then thought of Dad and how he would completely understand this sentiment. He loved his family being around him, hated any of us being away, but he also loved his quiet time too. I smiled to myself as I imagined us sitting together talking about it. Like father, like daughter. It’s why we got on so well.
Part of my break-down recovery involved that quiet time for myself. I’d sit with a coffee and my cat and stare out the living room window. It was peaceful and I allowed my thoughts to flow. It became a ritual, a habit and one that I quickly saw the benefits of when overcoming burn out.
I know I’m needing a bit of that me-time at the moment. I’m craving the silence and the solitude. It sounds awful, I know, but I figure I’m allowed to be selfish sometimes. There’s no one else to look after me, so I need to look after myself.
However, this quiet time is not really happening at the moment and won’t for a few days. I’ve broken the norm and have ran myself an early bath in the hope of stealing a few moments respite from the bustle of my family. I’ve been disturbed three times already. Bless them. For now though, early baths and clothes folding will have to do.
Catching up with my sister and brother in law has been enlightening anyway. It was unfortunate that they were unable to come to France with us (and our other sister) but I think they have enjoyed the little holiday of living in my home for the week.
As life has it sometimes, there has been much discussion about Lost Soul but not involving me as such. It seems that my brother in law has fallen out with him a little and although my sister went out with Lost Soul and other friends in the week, he is clearly up to his old games and tricks. And like the scene from Pride and Prejudice, it is amazing how many people are now claiming they are not that keen on him. Move over Mr Wickham.
It has done me some good though. Following the ‘dear friends’ incident, I am trying to process and work through any remaining feelings or thoughts that stubbornly remain. I’m half convinced they are a habit more than anything now – I still haven’t cried over him and that for me says a lot. The idea of him remains appealing but it’s the thought of him that his games have given hints of and my romantic mind has elaborated upon. It’s not the truth and I am finally, finally, accepting that now. I did what I could to start what I hoped was there. It wasn’t and it didn’t and am truly coming to terms with that.
I’m not lonely. I have lots of people around me. I miss the mental and physical intimacy of a true relationship but I am beginning to think that is a part of my imagination also. I’m beginning to emerge from this stage of my life, slowly and surely. I’m not sure what path I will take or how the next part of my life will turn out, but emerging within me is a determination to enjoy my life whatever happens.
I have accepted that I may not have everything I’ve wanted and dreamed of. That there are so many things in this life that are beyond my control. I’ve accepted that I will hurt because of people and events that I can’t change. I may end up on my own and I actually think I’m at peace with that now.
The death of someone who was your rock, your foundation, initially threatens to unbalance and destroy you. Everything you thought you knew is false, everything you thought you wanted is tasteless. For a while you flit around, searching for something – anything – to prop up those failing foundations and the walls you have built to help you reach your goals. Then you realise that nothing can.
But then, suddenly, that’s OK too. The foundations are being rebuilt by me. I am my father’s daughter and I have strength because of him. My life has changed and although I would give anything to have him back, I’ve accepted that my life is different now and that I have the power to rebuild my life a different way. Most important, is to enjoy the building of it.
So, I’m going to enjoy my crazy house full of family and not feel guilty when I need my silence and solitude. I not going to let my ideals dictate my life but instead enjoy what I have and be open to whatever comes along. These new walls are strong but flexible and living – I’ve learnt they have to be.
A year ago today my dad was still alive in hospital. I was enjoying a Wrestlemania themed birthday evening with my family (don’t ask) and then was going to visit Dad in hospital with my sister.
I have a lovely picture of my Dad and I from that visit, forehead’s together. He has just given me a present which he had kept in his hospital bedside table. He told me how glad he was that I had come to see him on my birthday.
However the smiles aren’t reaching either of our eyes. Dad is pale and tired. I’m already mourning my Dad, wondering and hoping he will come home this time but knowing this is probably my last birthday with him. It was.
I planned my trip to purposefully cover my birthday. I’ve had no cards or presents today and that’s absolutely fine. Dad hasn’t given me his hallmark newspaper-wrapped hand carved gift that he’d spent weeks planning and making. (My house is full of them and I love each and every one.) Dad hasn’t made my breakfast and I haven’t seen my sisters. I miss them all but for this year, the first year, this is what I needed: to escape from the memories. From what should have been and always was.
This morning I drove my children to the local village and we each selected a birthday cake from the patisserie.
I got ready listening to my favourite songs on the record player and danced with my son as he giggled at my exuberance.
We then went to a local restaurant for the ‘plat du jour’ and my children laughed at my nervous attempts to communicate in French with the poor waiter. My driving is much better though!
We have relaxed in the sunshine this afternoon and then went for a walk in the countryside to feed the local donkey.
It’s been a lovely day. It doesn’t feel like my birthday but that’s what I wanted. Dad made birthdays, just like he made Christmas and Easter and every other holiday and festival. Dad made every day, in fact, even when he was ill.
We are quickly approaching the anniversary of my Dad’s death. I can’t help but re-live each moment as each day passes. I suppose this is part of the process. It seems an age since I last saw him, held him, cuddled him and yet feels like only yesterday that he died.
Life is funny like that.
Although I long to see and hear my Dad today, I’m actually missing my sisters the most. Maybe because I know I could have seen them today. We are the three musketeers, desperately trying to live positively through this experience and replace something irreplaceable with love and support for each other. I love them so much. I know it made Dad happy that we are so close and look out for each other.
This evening my children and I have played dominoes and cards and I completely forgot what day it was. Birthday or not, this holiday has meant that I am spending quality time with my children and that’s the most important thing. My Dad taught me that.
I’m freezing but I don’t care. Tonight was a late one from work with two meetings and my youngest’s parents’ evening.
I got in, weary, and out the oven on for something to eat. I let the dog out and was about to make a fire when my sister called: she’d made my tea!
I drove the short distance to her house and had the most delicious tea. We chatted about work and I told her that I’d had a good day.
As I drove home, happily satiated, I thought about my good day. Work has been much better with my temporary role snc I’ve really enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve achieved something. I’ve taken on a couple of new classes and they’re going really well. I’ve only got four weeks left though until I return to my old role. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know there will be changes again next term so I am probably going to hold out for that. It good to feel good about my job again though.
It then got me thinking about how far I’ve come this last year. I’m proud of myself for getting through it. A part of me felt a twinge of guilt though: I never imagined feeling this way again when Dad died. But then I think it’s more that I’m managing it better. I think about him every day still but I don’t think about it, just the good things if I can.
I got home at 9.15pm and as there was no heating on, let the dog out and then I’ve come to bed early. It’s warmer under this duvet.
Bumble is proceeding slowly. I’m talking to two men now although one has gone quiet. I’ve matched and messaged six others. Four that I matched with yesterday have not responded and so have disappeared. It still puzzles me but as I far there seem to be plenty more potentials do I will stick with it for now.
I’ve lived in this house for nearly all of my 38 years. The house and its grounds have changed a lot over the years and more recently, a housing development has started to creep down this rural road.
For now though, I’m still surrounded by trees and fields and footpaths which criss cross the lands around.
Today when I got home from work I just needed to get out. I ignored the washing and the dishes, the ironing and the vacuuming, the marking and the planning. I changed into my walking shoes, swapped my blazer for a warm fleece and ignoring the fact that my daughter had already walked him, took my dog out for a walk.
It’s what I needed: sunshine, fresh air and birdsong, the exercise to stimulate my body, heart and mind.
I walked a way down my road and then crossed over to what my dad fondly called the ‘cart-track’. It’s a public footpath, indeed the width of a cart or car, but without tarmac. There are two houses down this bumpy track who are truly unspoilt in their views of the countryside.
I have so much history with this track.The track was a favourite walking place for me and my dog when I was sixteen and me and my pony when I was even younger. One of the houses was abandoned and derelict throughout my childhood and Dad relished taking us on a haunted walk there each Halloween. As I walked past it today it was transformed – new plaster and paint on the walls, a garage and a grassy lawn where once brambles and overgrown bushes grew. I realised how long it had been since I had walked down this track. Years and years. Shame on me.
I walked further a saw the grassy layby where I once stopped with my pony, hearing an approaching dirt bike further up the road. The rider turned out to be a boy who was in an older year than me in primary school and I remember how that conversation in the layby lead to a mutual crush.
We carried on walking down the tree lined track, past the entrance to the wood which I walked in with my Dad when I was a child. Now it’s owned by a business who does not permit my entry, so I continued on past the second of the two houses I mentioned earlier.
This detatched grey farmhouse was as austere as I remembered but not as frightening without its pacing and growling dogs being the fences that are still there. I wondered if the same people still lived there, and remembered a brown haired girl on a palomino pony who used to make their dogs bark all those years ago.
Once past the house the trees disappear and open fields stretch on either side of the overgrown path.
We carried on and I remembered the times I would canter down this path imaging I was on an adventure.
It was glorious in the spring sunshine and I could feel my heart swell with contentment.
We carried on until we reached the row of cottages right at the other end of the track. This is where I would always turn round and head back, sneakily casting a glance at the second house for a glimpse of my childhood crush. Today I carried on walking until I came to a fork in the road.
To the right, the track curved round past the houses to lead to a familiar road which would eventually lead to the road I live on. To the left, promoted by a newly positioned wooden sign post was another public footpath, one I had never gone down. Can you believe that? 38 years and this place was on my doorstep.
I walked past another wood, through farmers’ fields, occasionally mystified at the direction of travel but lost of the time intrigued and shamed by this missed opportunity.
Eventually, we arrived at another known cart-track which I used to go down with my Dad to visit his farmer friend who lived down the way. Soon, we were out on to the main road and it was not long before I was turning back into my own road again.
Isn’t it amazing what is on your doorstep and often what you miss in the complications of a hectic working life? So many memories, so many opportunities missed to enjoy this place which is just a walk away.
It reiterated to me so clearly that we must go through our lives with our eyes wide open and allow ourselves to walk a little in this fast-paced modern world. We miss out on so much of we don’t.
I awoke this morning to the beautiful sounds of birdsong. It was last year since I have heard such a beautiful dawn chorus and it lifted my heart as well as saddened it too – I remember very clearly the dawn chorus which accompanied me as I watched my Dad leave in the ambulance.
Even so, it was a lovely way to wake up this morning.
This afternoon was great too. For the first time in seven months my friend and I went out walking again.
We’ve not been out walking since the beginning of the summer holidays and before she weirded out on me.
We went to a National Trust property, wrapped up warm but loving the sunshine. We bought sandwiches and coffee from the restaurant and found an obliging bench to sit and eat. Then it started to hail. Yes, hail.
We sheltered under the bare branches on a huge tree which surprisingly helped. Ten minutes later the sun was shining again and we set off through the parkland. It felt amazing to breathe in the crisp air, feel the faint heat of winter sunshine on my face and feel my body respond to the exercise. We then wandered through the gardens and saw a fantastic display of early spring flowers.
Dad loved his snowdrops and always pointed them out.
Word has it that they are the symbol of renewed life: the end of the death that winter brings.
We talked of our fathers and how, if they had met, they would have got on so well. They had so much in common and it’s sad that they didn’t get a chance to meet. We laughed at things they would have said to each other and then the strangest thing happened.
In the shrubbery, not a metre from us, was a Robin. As we got closer it didn’t move – just looked around and sang.
My photos do not do justice to how close this bird was to us. Just as I was saying to my friend that there must be something wrong with it, another one appeared on the same shrub!
To both of us it was a sign – it was too unusual for it not to be. We carried on, hearts swelling and renewed. We felt that our Dads had heard us and were telling us they were here.
And so, tired from my walk, I too felt on the cusp of change. From the cold and icy hail to the warm sunshine… the bare limbs of trees to the early flowers…. the sight and song of birds…
A hint of spring yet still winter too… Spri-nter. ☺
And although I’m still in the darkness of my grief, there are signs of positivity too.
I don’t believe I’m alone in avoiding going to bed.
Daytime usually means I’m occupied somehow: work, housework, family, friends. Of course grief has, and still does, hit me from time to time and I think about Dad a lot. But during the day – certainly during the week – they are usually fleeting heartfelt thoughts.
That’s how I’m coping. I need to carry on.
Nighttime is different. The minute my head hits the pillow and my eyes close, the grief hits me hard. Memories, thoughts, regrets… they play in orchestral fashion, bittersweet and lilting or tumultuous and powerful.
Mornings are similar. I no longer wake up to the stab in the heart as I realise and remember he is gone. But I always wake up thinking about him, somehow.
I know I look tired. I look at myself in the mirror and I see that grief has aged me. I’m tired and pale and I have bags under my eyes. Ah well.
This morning, however, I woke with a smile. A memory of something my Dad did, from a little girl to adulthood… A joke that he replayed with every daughter and every grandchild. It made me smile as it did when he was alive. A memory of him which was vibrant and beautiful. Unforgettable. Something that was uniquely him.
I was told in bereavement counselling that this day would come. That the positive and beautiful memories of my Dad would shine through. The image I’ve had of my Dad, for so long, has been of a tired, sick man. It was good to think of him as he really was: strong and funny.