A year ago today, I had no idea what heartbreak really meant. A year ago today, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend just how much comfort you could find in seemingly meaningless items like a hanky or an old button up shirt. A year ago today, we held our hearts in our hands as we whispered Goodbye to our Dad, Husband, Poppy and friend.
They say it gets easier. I’d just like to know, when?
I’ve been replaying all of my favourite memories on a loop. Hearing his voice as I drift off to sleep night after night and wishing for just one more beer, one more hug, one more drive to nowhere while I sang country songs and he never told me to turn it down – I’d give anything for just one more day with him.
You see, my Dad was the kind of guy people loved to be around. He was silly, sweet and loving. Losing someone like that, someone with so much light and love inside them gives life the potential of becoming very dark. Of course you can be thankful for the time you had or focus on how lucky you were to know, love and be loved by them. The truth is, it hasn’t always been easy to focus on the light.
I’ve learned this year, that grief has a way of turning you into a blubbering mess over the most stupid of things. Some days are certainly harder than others. I cry over moustaches and the sight of a single fire extinguisher makes my bottom lip drop. I mean, a greying gentleman in a plaid shirt even has the ability to send me into a spin; I told you, ridiculous!
Sometimes I cry for what seems like no reason at all.
Spending days curled up in my bed drowning in the darkness seemed like the easiest and most productive way of getting through the sad. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to find a hole to crawl into and ignore every person, every responsibility, every feeling – forever. For months and even sometimes now, everything feels too hard without him.
He was everything a great Dad should be. Supportive, understanding, brave and unconditionally loving. Through it all and no matter what – he loved us. He loved us even when he didn’t have to, even when we made it hard, even when most men would have had nothing left to give.
Saying we miss him terribly is the biggest understatement of the century.
I miss every single thing about who he was. I miss his laugh, his stinky feet and plucking hairs off the tops of his big elephant ears. I miss knowing that he was only a phone call away. I miss his advice, listening to the same old stories and seeing the world through his eyes.
He taught us how to ride bikes, drive cars and bottle home brew. He helped us find the magic in the little things and to appreciate how good it feels to work hard for the things you truly want. He showed us what true love looked like when he met our Mary and in turn, gave us the most incredible second family we could ever have asked for.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky we are. We were blessed to have all be there with him in his final days and that gift bought our family together in ways I could only have ever dreamed of. We made it through because of our love. 12 months on, that is his legacy; our love for him and our love for each other.
As the days turned to weeks and then to months; it really hit home that he wasn’t coming back. I found myself dialing the same number he had for 20 years knowing he wasn’t going to pick up but finding comfort in dialing anyway.
I listened to old voicemail messages on repeat and was devastated when I changed providers and lost access to them. I slept in one of his t-shirts and still hold onto an old hanky so tightly that I’ve worn a hole in it.
All I really wanted was to hide my heartache away; keep it to myself. People tell you to stay positive, that he would have wanted us to just get on with it and you’re probably right but I shouldn’t have to swallow my feelings to make other people feel more comfortable or to appear less vulnerable.
So I’ve learned to accept that there is no amount of advice, words of love or comfort that could ever make the sadness truly melt away. Yes, I think I will always cry when I hear certain songs, Christmas will always feel bittersweet, birthdays and fathers day will always leave me with a lump in my throat.
And that’s okay.
Last night as I choked back the tears and tried to hide my heartache to avoid feeling vulnerable – again – while talking about him, I was reminded that I don’t actually have to do that – at all. Being okay with not being okay is just as important and being okay itself.
Yes, it’s been a year and thankfully I live in the light now – more oftent than not – but today I’m proud of myself for not being afriad of the dark.