On the 20th of September 2015, my father passed away. It’s been one year since that day, one year since my life changed forever.
I wrote about Dad passing away over on my old blog. You can read about it here: Saying goodbye to my dad. But this post, is about my life since that day. And it probably won’t be pretty. These are just words that need to get out, one way or another. And when you’re a writer, it’s best that they come out like this.
I remember the 20th of September 2015 as if it were last week. It was a Sunday and just about everything seems to be in the sharpest detail. From the message I received that Dad had been taken to hospital as he wasn’t feeling well, to the crushing, numbing, soul-shattering realisation that I was about to say goodbye to my father. For real this time. We’ve had scares before, when he had his first heart attack just before my 11th birthday, or when he had a bipass and almost didn’t make the recovery. It was different this time. That one message told me that this was it. I was going to lose him.
Through those times before when he’d almost died, it seems there were so many “almosts”, I had tried to imagine what it would be like. As a child, as a teen, I had imagined that I would be sad, but everything would be okay real quick. Surely it couldn’t be that bad? It happened every day that people died. Heck, at the age of 17, even I had experienced it when my grandmother, the only grandparent I knew, had passed away. Again at 19 a good friend died in a car accident. But you see, losing a loved one, and in my case, losing my dad, was something that NO ONE could have prepared me for. He wasn’t just a relative or someone I loved, he was my pillar, my teacher, my cheerleader. He was one of the four walls of my house that is my life. And then he was gone. His absence from this world has left a hole in my life, my heart, and my world that can’t be patched up or replaced.
Walking in to that hospital that day, only one year ago (a mark in time that has seemed to come all too quickly and too slowly all at once), I knew he was gone. When I saw my brother in the passage way, in tears but trying to be strong, I knew that he was gone. When I walked into the hospital room and saw him lying so peacefully as if he were simply napping on the couch like he always did, I knew that he was gone. When I looked over at my mother, weeping, heartbroken, I knew that he was gone. And yet, in my world filled with shock, it couldn’t be true. But reality, oh reality is no friend in a situation like this, when it sets in, the blow is very real.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried and felt absolutely nothing, empty, as if my entire body were just a piece of fragile fabric with hollow bones, I’ve never felt so much and so little as I did that day. And when we walked through the halls of that hospital, I was just a ghost in a world filled with solid beings. I was a figment of imagination, because “surely this can’t be happening?” There are days, even now a year later, when that feeling returns. Because you see, saying goodbye, and dealing with the absense of someone so HUGE in your life doesn’t happen all at once.
Every day I find myself either remembering, mourning, laughing about a memory, wishing he were here, something, everything – Every. Single. Day. Sometimes it will happen when I’m standing at the stove and I’ll remember a cooking tip he taught me, a love we both shared. Other times I’ll be completely distracted watching a movie, and suddenly an actress is hugging a man pretending to be her father, and my heart will shatter. Nothing really feels complete without Dad here. Every family gathering, every event, there’s someone missing. Like an empty chair that no one can bring themselves to sit in. It’s not a constant sadness, but there’s always the smallest glimmer of an ache. Like a paper cut that throbs when you least expect it.
No, I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I’ve changed, I know that, but I’m also okay with that fact.
But, there’s hope.
You see, Dad loved life. No, it wasn’t always easy. In fact, he went through so much that hurt him and for that I’m glad he’s in a better place. A place where there is no hurt or sadness. But he loved his family and he always found a reason to smile and it’s because of this (and many other things) that I can allow my heart to heal a little more each day. One year later, I miss him with everything in me, but I will not let that sadness consume me. Time truly does heal all wounds. One day I hope that will be the case for me too.
Instead, right now, I’ll smile, remember the good times, and hold on to the fact that I’ll see Dad again some day. And who knows, maybe a year from now, this day won’t be so hard. Maybe five years from now, the ache will be less than it is today.
For today must still be lived, despite what happened one year ago and despite what will happen tomorrow.
As always, Dad. It’s not really goodbye, it’s just farewell, until we see each other again.