When you lose a sock, you’ve got a couple of options in front of you. You can just wait a week or two until it shows up in the odd sock pile in the laundry, you can go buy a new pair of socks or you can just go out of the house wearing odd socks.
When you lose your Dad, you can’t do any of those things.
I’ve lost my Dad loads of times before. The amount of times he’s disappeared out of sight when we were bushwalking, or in the big Woolworths when he’d tell me to go grab some milk and I’d go back to where I left him and he would have moved on, sending me into a mini-panic. One time I was supposed to meet him back at the newsagents and I saw him standing there, with his back to me so I went up to him and said ‘YO DAD’ right in his ear and it was just someone who looked like him, not actually him.
This time is different, because in the past, he came back. This time he’s not behind a tree or in the pasta aisle or just slightly out of sight looking at some electronics magazine. This time he’s properly gone – I’m never going to see him again in this life.
Dad had been sick for more than two years, and five months ago we found out that the cancer had been cutting off years and years of his life, so that all that was left on his calendar were mere months. After we found out we got ourselves all organised and then spent the next few months having fun and doing things that Dad wanted to do.
Even though we knew what was coming; even though we got more time and more of a warning than some people ever get, his death still came upon us like a shock. Whilst I had accepted that it was going to happen – a little part of me didn’t really believe that it WAS going to happen. I didn’t really believe that my Dad, my strong and stubborn Dad, could be brought down by a bit of cancer.
You don’t really expect your 20th birthday to be the last full day you ever have with your Dad and when you’ve just turned 20, you don’t expect to be saying goodbye to one of your parents. That’s just not really how the world works.
I’ve written posts about my faith in God before (here) and in the recent months I completely believe that my Dad had fully come to have that same faith. So when people ask me how I’m coping, how I’m staying so upbeat, how I’m still so cheerful despite everything that’s happened in the last month (or years), God is my answer.
Firstly, God is 98% of the reason I can get up in the morning and continue with my life (the other 2% is my Dad’s voice saying “Get up and stop being so bloody lazy – go do something with your life”). Secondly, I will see my Dad again, when we’re both hanging out for eternity in the presence of God. It sucks being here without him, but it’s okay because there’s still so much to come and just because he’s not here now doesn’t mean that I won’t ever see him again – and in comparison with eternity, that reunion will be pretty soon.
Another reason I’m so upbeat and cheerful, still, is because my Dad was. Right up until the last he was always saying “Eh, it is what it is and there’s not much we can do about it, so we might as well have fun while we can!” How can you be sad all the time when you’ve had that kind of positivity instilled in you since birth?
Apart from the positivity, I got most of my humour, my hair, my excellent whistling ability, my thirst for learning, my writing abilities, my love for reading and most of my facial features from my Dad. (Seriously on that last one, pictures of him as a teenager are scary alike to pictures of me as a teenager).
As Anne Shirley would say, he was my kindred spirit – or rather, I was his. It’s desperately sad to not have him around anymore. I mean, seriously Dad, we need some man logic all up in this female-filled house. We’re not even a month into this new life of ours and I imagine it’s probably going to get harder as time plugs along. Especially when it gets to graduations, 21sts, weddings and grandchildren – all the things he should still be looking forward to, all the things I know he was gutted about missing.
Why am I telling you all this? I could have just not mentioned any of this and pretended that nothing had changed, but I would have felt like a fraud. I’m not writing it to make you feel sorry for me or for attention or anything like that – it’s purely to touch base and to defraud the situation. Over the last few months, I’ve consciously made a decision to not mention too much of my personal life online because I didn’t want it to be an issue before it HAD to be an issue. I mean, it was always an issue for me, but I didn’t want other people to feel like they had to be looking after me at every turn. That’s the problem with having amazing friends – they care so much about you that you feel bad that they go to such lengths to look after you.
That whole paragraph was so awkwardly worded but that’s because this part of the post is me talking about how I feel. I’m not good at verbalising my thoughts and my feelings – I usually write letters or just generally write it down. As well as the anonymous faces reading this post I know that there are a lot of my real life friends reading it – because as I said, they’re very supportive – and I feel so inadequate when I’m with them, not being able to tell them how I really feel.
I hate the fact that there are some people who feel scared to talk to me now, like death is contagious or something. So I just want those people to know that it’s not – talking to me is not going to cause one of your family members to die, it’s okay. There are other people who are scared to talk to me because they don’t know what to say. I totally get that, didn’t I just say I’m the worst when it comes to knowing what to say? Here’s the thing though – I don’t care! I spend most of my days trying to go back to normal so if you don’t know what to say to me, then that’s okay. Talk to me about the weather, talk to me about books, talk to me about the migration patterns of the Peregrine Falcon for goodness sake! Just don’t leave me alone with no one to talk to. There are people who like to be left alone at times like this but I am not one of those people. Please do not leave me alone.
Other than that, I’m so grateful for all my friends. I’ve gotta say that before I get too carried away and forget to thank anyone. We’ve had so many flowers in our house, so many pre-cooked meals, so much love that we don’t even know what to do with it all. It’s overflowing and it’s so wonderful. Every single person we know has helped us out in some way and it’s been so beautiful.
I guess the other question is something about how I actually feel about not having my Dad around. Get yourselves ready for analogy, folks. I feel like I’ve been climbing this mountain for 20 years. My Dad’s been holding my hand the entire way, giving me the occasional piggy-back… always just there for me when I got out of breath. But we’re not even halfway up this mountain and he’s just stopped. He can’t go on anymore and I can’t do anything to help him continue. He’d get really mad at me if I just stayed at the point where he stopped. I can hear him saying ‘Louise there’s a pretty speccy view up the top there, you’ve gotta keep going!’ So I have to keep going, because the mountain is a metaphor for my life – for those playing along at home. But right now I feel like there’s a little outcrop in the mountain – like a lookout but with no guard rail and it’s really windy up here so I feel pretty unstable. I’m fine, and I’m not going to get swept off that outcrop, I promise, but I’m just being blown around a little bit.
I’m not sure what else to say. I’m sorry that it’s a very, very long blog post, but I’ve written and re-written it about 7 times now, trying to get it shorter but I’ve decided that it’s one of those times where I wasn’t going to compromise my feelings and other important things just to fit my blog’s style. I’m not even sure that I’ve said everything that I want to, but thank you so much for reading my thoughts and feelings that are so thinly strung together. I appreciate it. I appreciate you.