I have a Dad..
When Dad first passed; when I was thirteen.
I thought the hole in my stomach, the big black hole that sucked everything into it, I thought it would never leave.
The darkness followed me. It sat in my stomach. A constant and hidden reminder that my Dad wasn't here anymore.
The ugliness settled in my stomach the morning he passed. The morning I heard the paramedics cross the threshold of our front door.
I heard it all, the way Mum spoke to them in hushed whispers. The way Collette crept from her room with tentative steps.
I knew he was gone. But I wanted to lay there. I just wanted to lay there in my bed, in the semi-darkness, and freeze time in the moments where there is still some hopeless hope before Mum quietly stepped into my room with tears in her eyes and finally told me.
I wished she wouldn't come.
I wished I could lay there forever pretending to be oblivious to the truth that lay in the other room.
But of course she came in, and the rest of the day is a flurry of movement.
I watched from the front window as they rolled his still body in a bag down the path.
I knew I would never touch him again.
I would never hear his voice again. His infectious laugh.
And the hole in my stomach began to grow.
Later that day, when the shock wore off, I sat crying ever so softly in my room. When Simone walked in.
She said " Were you thinking about it?"
And I told myself that if thinking about it hurt so much, I wouldn't think about it anymore.
And the black hole in my stomach grew.
At the funeral I sat, with family around.
I disconnected, and the darkness covered my eyes.
I thought of nothing. I saw nothing.
And I didn't cry. Not one tear that day.
Not when I saw his lifeless body resting in a sea of white cushions in his coffin.
Not when tiny J.P stumbled through the lyrics of a primary song when he became overwhelmed. His body shaking from grief.
Not even as I stood at the grave site and the dirt pile stood tall next to the hole. Each grain of earth representing the immense weight of the day.
I thought of nothing. I saw nothing. I felt nothing.
My grief, had lasted less than three minutes a few days earlier when I'd softly cried in my room.
After the funeral I changed from the heavy dark coat I had been wearing; I would never wear it again. I put on jeans and a t-shirt. I surfaced as if a butterfly from a chrysalis.
My absent Aunty said " You look different."
And I told myself I could play the part.
Much later, Mum asked a friend who is a counsellor to come and see me.
I sat, my body turned from her as I faced the fireplace.
I sat while her words probed and felt through the darkness that had grown out of my stomach and into my heart.
And the anger grew.
Today. Today I cry with grief more than I did in the first seven years after his death. I think of his love, his smile and even his wrinkles.
I think of him. Sometimes constantly. Sometimes a little.
I allow myself to mourn. I allow myself to cry.
And most importantly I feel.
The anger and the darkness has gone. It doesn't rule my every action and decision anymore.
Instead I feel as if I am missing a piece of my heart.
Yesterday I thought of him. But instead of thinking of his face I thought of the plate above his grave. The butterfly and the flower etched into the metal.
A few years ago, one of my best friend's mother passed. I stood, in her parent's kitchen, gripping her close in an embrace that felt like none other before it.
Her tears wet my neck as she sobbed into my shoulder and asked me if it ever gets better.
I wish I could have comforted her in some way, I wished that I could lie and tell her tomorrow she would wake up and all the pain would be gone.
Instead I told her the truth.
" It never gets better. It never goes away - but it does get easier. "
Because even if you aren't thinking about how you lost a mother or a father, even if you forget for a little while. There is always a nagging in the corner of your heart that something is missing.
Like when you pack for a holiday and you bite your lip as you shut the front door because you know you've forgotten something on your list but you just can't remember what it is.
That feeling is always with you. Forever.
And eventually you learn to embrace it, and live life with the feeling.
And you accept it because it becomes a part of your new life. And you even use the feeling, because you like to know its there when you want to get out the magnifying glass and remember and smile about what a great life you had with them.
Today I got out the magnifying glass because yesterday I thought of the plate above his grave and not his whispey white hair and sun touched skin.
Because today I needed to remember him. Not his grave.
Happy Father's Day to the best Dad I'll ever have.