For the possibility of snot bubbles, this blog will not be recorded. You’re welcome.
‘How’s your blog going?’ A friend asked me recently, with care and curiosity. ‘I haven’t written in a while’ I replied. ‘You’re probably too busy at work’, they said without missing a beat,… I half nod, half shrug, kind of smile. We have a lovely connection and I wondered if my ‘change the subject’ reply was noticed…
I have been bust at work – but that’s not the reason I haven’t posted. I love writing. I’ve been writing. This blog. For 8 months. 8 months almost to the day. Bits and pieces here and there. Sometimes smiling. Sometimes unable to see through the tears. It would be easy to say I’m too busy at work. New job and all. And it has certainly had its hectic moments. But it’s not the reason I haven’t written. The truth is that my heart has just been hurting so bad. Every time I open up my phone to jot another sentence it brings things flooding back. I can see his face as plain as day. Alive and smiling, chatting with me in the weeks before he had to go. And in any split second, without anything ‘triggering’ a thought, as I’ve been asked so many times, I can see his face as I said a physical goodbye for the last time…
Losing a parent is not something they tell you about in the book of life that you never receive. I haven’t had the strength to finish this blog until now. The whole time-healing thing is real. Nothing makes it easier, but you do gain a little more emotional stability as the days pass by.
The truth is, without upsetting all of my other fans out there, Dad was one of my biggest. He’d always message me or comment on my blogs or my Facebook posts or send texts with encouragement, love and pride. Messages like this one:
Absolutely and totally biased, yes. But he won’t be commenting on this one. And that last thought has truly crippled my little fingers and filled me with fear and salty eyes for months and months. Hitting the post button and not seeing his comment is what has been lingering. Each time he would message, I would reply with something like, ‘Awe Dad, stop it’!
Grief is an interesting place to be. I mean it sucks. It’s lonely. When I say interesting, it’s because I know we are always learning. There are others going through the same or a similar loss, and yet it’s a varied experience for them – because we all remember different things, had our own experiences, knew that person for different amounts of time & have our own emotional blueprint.
I am personally agonised by the lost time. Both in the past and the future we won’t have – well not as we thought it would be. I’m finding it hard to imagine the days I will inevitably experience life events that he won’t get to be there for. That he longed to be there for.
So at this point in time I have come to the realisation that I have a choice. I’ve lost two things that are dear to my heart. My Dad. And my writing. Boo. And apparently, thanks to mortality (eff you), I can only get one of them back on track at this point in time. So here I am. And if you’re here, thank you. Thank you for sticking around. Thank you for waiting. Thank you for the love. Thank you for the patience. Thank you.
Don’t get me wrong, I know he’d be proud. I know he’d want me to keep posting. People have said to me, ‘Your Dad would want you to be happy.’ – That doesn’t help.
I know he’d want me to be my happy, slightly crass & incredibly witty self. (That was purely for you Dad). But part of me doesn’t want to think those things and instead, I’ve just wanted to wallow. I’ve needed to wallow. There have been so many differing emotions and many times I have seriously asked myself if this is how you feel when you’re actually losing your shit.
I woke up in the middle of the night in the early days and realised I’d clearly broken the law and put off chicken in the recycle bin. Argh! Definitely not recyclable. I have seen people I know, but not recognised them. I have wondered what day it is, forgotten things on the stove, missed appointments and gone days without eating. I know… who am I?! All examples of when I was convinced I was losing it.
In the beginning, the pain is so bad, with no escape route in sight. In fact, many times I just wished for the Earth to swallow me up because I couldn’t fathom the possibility of a light appearing. I couldn’t imagine a way to sort out the things we had to do. But somehow we made it through. Each heart-wrenching milestone. We made it.
I have realised that everyone will have to face this reality at some point. Everyone loses someone. It’s inevitably common. You just remain oblivious until it happens.
The shower wall has held me up so many times. I’ve cried so much I could vomit. I have vomited.I find it fascinating that there are always more tears. More snot. Where does it even come from?
I am not sure how this whole process would’ve been if I didn’t have an amazing support crew. Joining forces of love and support is just what we do and we’re damn good at it. One of the many reasons Dad always had a tear of pride in his eye.
The day before the service really had reality come crashing in through every inch of my skin & I could feel the pain in my bones. In every single cell of me.
I polished his gigantic size shoes and ironed one of his stained hankies – carefully folding it and placing it in his jacket pocket so no one else would ever know – which gave me a little smile in the middle of my tears. I knew she’d be arriving soon, but the thought of handing over his personal belongings and brand new suit that was never worn as intended, to someone I’ve never met, so they could dress him last time, is one of the many things I found incredibly hard to do.
Often, I find myself just blankly staring into the abyss. I can hear his voice & see his face…
‘G’day Jenni Pie, my gorgeous girl’.
‘Love you darlin’’.
I’ve prayed for you to visit my dreams and you took your sweet arse time, but have made a couple of appearances. I’ll keep praying because you flit in and out so dang quickly – usually skipping off looking happy.. like you’re on your way somewhere fun.
One night you did one of those jump-heel-click things and I remember thinking that your hip must be feeling so much better! No more infection. No more pain. So much energy. It made me smile. I wish you’d stay a little longer. I wish we could talk. Laugh. Listen to some tunes.
Surreal things began happening on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Your death certificate arrived.. and I was still questioning if this was all actually legit. It looked real. I look around our house and the reality is subtle in the things I see. The cards on the mantle. And if those flowers are still downstairs when I get up in the morning, it will be a sign that this is in fact, unbelievably real. I know I went to your funeral. And hugged a lot of people. And cried a lot of tears. I saw your face. We’ve spread your ashes now and helped you complete the circle of life, back with Mother Earth… but is it truly real?
I have friends who have lost parents. I remember feeling very unsure of what to say. I had no idea how they might be feeling. But I get it now. If you are where I was, don’t worry, just hug your friends and don’t bother offering any advice – because it probably won’t help. Just be there.
Emotions certainly complicate things. The reality of it all is simple. He’s gone. And we will never ever see his Earthly body again. I have been waist deep in sorting through the clothes he’ll never wear again. We’ve sorted out the tools and trinkets. He will never see the sunshine or hear the rain again.
And then I start to wonder – which is when I knew I had boarded the healing train – maybe he is the rain. Causing everything to glisten with beautiful drops. Coating the already breathtaking world and making it that little bit more rich with beauty. I could listen all night.
There is an underlying ache that I’m not sure will ever go away. We are all nurturing our broken hearts and I’ve learned that this is going to be our new normal and we have no choice but to adapt.
I have always said that it’s not only ok to feel sad – but vital. It’s ok to feel whatever you’re feeling. What’s important is to feel. There have been times , however, when I’ve been totally struggling to practice my own preaching.
Why? Because avoiding pain is a dang good defence mechanism. I have learned that I need to choose wisely the times when I go down the tear-filled rabbit hole because I know too well that it’s a long way back out. Regardless of whether embracing those emotions will continue helping me to heal, the thought of that inevitable pain is often times unbearable. The days following with swollen eyes. People asking, ‘Are you ok? You don’t look so good’. (not helpful!)
As the emotions become a little more under control, days off have been best for letting it all flow!
When you find yourself going through a similar process, my biggest piece of advice is to surround yourself with those who have been there before and those who hold an unconditional love for you. The most regular and comforting words I have heard all along are, ‘It’s ok, that’s normal’ – and my favourite, ‘No, you are not losing your shit’. Phew.
Long, LONG after the formalities are finished, the grief will still be there. It will feel like people have forgotten about what’s happened. The world will keep ticking. That’s one of the hardest things. It is in these times, that you just take each moment as it comes, be kind to yourself and always wear waterproof mascara!
So friends, thank you. I will be back again soon and am happy, scared, grateful and a little tearful as I take this next step along the trail, knowing that Dad will have to find a way to read this from wherever he is (probably stalking rockstars amongst the actual stars) and pass his comments to me via my dreams, or in the raindrops on the roof.
In the meantime, please feel free to leave any corny Dad jokes below – it might help 🙂
So much love, Jen.
I read this piece of writing just recently, and wanted to share it with you guys.
And, as if I already had an inkling of this concept, I bought myself and my beautiful nieces & nephews each a ‘Poppy stone’ the day of Dad’s service, so we can always carry it with us to remember Poppy (Dad) and those special memories we’ve made:
The best way I can describe grieving is to say it’s similar to carrying a stone in your pocket.
When you walk, the stone brushes against your skin. You feel it. You always feel it. But depending on the way you stand or the way your body moves, the smooth edges might barely graze your body.
Sometimes you lean the wrong way or you turn too quickly and a sharp edge pokes you. Your eyes water and you rub your wound but you have to keep going because not everyone knows about your stone or if they do, they don’t realise it can still bring this much pain.
There are days you are simply happy now, smiling comes easy and you laugh without thinking. You slap your leg during that laughter and you feel your stone and aren’t sure whether you should be laughing still. The stone still hurts.
Once in a while you can’t take your hand off that stone. You run it over your fingers and roll it in your palm and are so preoccupied by it’s weight, you forget things like your car keys and home address (I forgot people at Dad’s funeral, asking Mum – ‘Who is that?’. You try to leave it alone but you just can’t. You want to take a nap but it’s been a while now since you’ve called in “sad” you’re not sure anyone would understand anymore or if they ever did.
But most days you can take your hand in and out of your pocket, feel your stone and even smile at its unwavering presence. You’ve accepted this stone as your own, crossing your hands over it, saying “mine” as children do.
You rest more peacefully than you once did, you’ve learned to move forward the best you can. Some days you want to show the world what a beautiful memory you’re holding. But most days you twirl it through your fingers, smile and look to the sky. You squeeze your hands together and hope you are living in a way that honors the missing piece you carry, until your arms are full again.
– Jessica Watson