This is the one day I would erase from the whole calender if I could. It’s the one day I dread all year long, and it renders me numb and zombie-like all day long. I literally feel myself drowning with emotions so strong, that it’s like being choked and any simple task is rendered difficult and hard. It’s been four years today that I lost my father. I remember everything from that day. I remember what I was wearing, the work I was doing, what we ate for lunch. I remember what we were all doing, what TV programme we were watching and the exact time we found out what happened. It is unbelievable how one sentence can change your life forever. One minute mum was asking us what we preferred for dinner and the next all I remember are screams, mine or my mother’s I don’t know. His passing was unexpected, so quick and it was rendered more difficult by all the circumstances surrounding it. It was the kind of passing I know he’d have preferred knowing him and the type of person he was, but I’d have preferred something else, just to let us get prepared for everything. But that’s me being totally selfish and people who have surrounded someone terminally ill have told me that there is nothing more desperate and helpless than watching someone you love wither away before your eyes, and finally realize that at the end there is nothing left for him but death. I don’t know.
The days following his passing are sort of dream-like. My brother was still young, mum was lost and confused and everything fell onto me to decide and choose. I welcomed that though, because it allowed me to have something to do and think about. So many decisions had to be taken, and I am forever grateful for my relatives who held my hand all throughout. One of hardest thing was visiting the undertakers and choosing a coffin. Seeing those intricate works, and being asked whether you wanted this type of wood or that, whether you preferred white cushioning and pillows or another colour, whether you preferred this sort of cross or that. And then you stop and realize that your most loved and treasured one will be put there forever. Just thinking about it now makes my heart beat so fast and the feeling of wanting to crawl into a corner and stay put there, me and my thoughts, is overwhelming.
I chose not to see him in an open coffin before the funeral. My brother did and he told me it was like seeing him asleep, so I can imagine how he was. A took me to see him before the funeral, and I wanted to be alone with him just for a couple of minutes and tell him what I needed to. And it was then that I totally broke down and lost it. I remember A and the person in charge coming in and pulling me away because I didn’t want to leave. It was my last private moment with him, it was my time to talk to him, have my last conversation with him, and even though I was a mess when I left, I felt as if I was relieved in a way and at peace with everything. I do believe it was his gift to me – giving me some strength which I knew I needed so desperately.
The days and months afterwards were blurry and hard. We would have good days, but then one comment, one thought, one memory would re-open everything, and we would go back to that awful day. I learnt who my true friends were. As for A, I don’t know what I would have done without him. I’m not one to talk about things with anyone. I am quite private. We would go for two-hour walks and I wouldn’t say a thing but him holding my hand was all I needed at the time. He never questioned my sudden bursts of crying, or my mood swings. I was a very difficult partner at that time. I would fight with him, I would yell at him, I would tell him that he had no right to try and console me because he hadn’t gone through what I did. I was even jealous of him then, because he still had his father in his life. But I knew that he always had my back. Till this day, I sometimes see or hear a comment, and he knows that I’m remembering my father, and he just holds my hand and gives me a hug, and tells me it’ll get better. And I can’t love him enough for it. He’s seen me at my total worst and he kept holding my hand and giving me his support all throughout. So whatever happens with A and myself, I can never thank him enough for what he did for me then. I will always be indebted for his unwavering support. He was my rock.
For weeks after it happened, people were coming to our house to talk to us and mum. My aunts who came from abroad and spent 3 months here, took over our house. They’d cook for us and help mum with the house-chores. They’d tell my brother and I stories of my father, stories I’d never heard, because you realize then that he was not only your father, but also a man, a human being and that he had another life apart from being your father. We reopened albums we hadn’t seen in ages, and laughed and cried over photos. Everyone was supportive, and sometimes someone’s words would lift you up and you’d look ahead in a positive way. I remember a friend of my mothers telling me that I may have lost a father, but I gained an eternal angel who was always with me taking care of me. And that made me, and still makes me feel better because I know that I am never truly alone.
So four years have passed. I think of all he’s missed and will miss. Of his life which was cut way too short at such a young age. I still ask ‘why’, ‘why us’ and ‘why him’. I still grieve, I still cry and I’m still angry at times at both God and even at my father. I get angry at people who get a second chance of life and aren’t appreciative. I feel like screaming at people who don’t talk to their parents over a stupidity. I would do anything just for a minute with him again. There are days when I don’t want to wake up from my bed because the pain is so raw. There are mornings when I wake up smiling and happy because I’ve had a dream about him and even though he rarely talks, he’s always smiling and looking so content and serene. And then there are days when I wake up desperately wanting to go visit him at the cemetery, where even though it’s hard, it’s the only place I truly find peace and serenity and comfort. Mum is amazing and so courageous. She’s the strongest person I know and I pray to God to let her stay this way. She pulled herself up and is slowly getting used to this new life. I know it’s so hard for her at time, because my parents had been together since they both were 16 and got married 6 years later. They literally grew up together. There are times when I know she’s silently grieving but that is only normal. We have a new life now, and so many things which I had previously taken for granted, are not so anymore. I was very close to my father. We were both similar in character, we had fights as a result of this, but I know he understood me because he was just like me. I feel proud when people tell me how much I look after him and take after him, both physically and characteristically. He would do anything for me, and I would do anything for him just to see him smile and feel proud of me. I have beautiful memories which no one can take away. I still talk to him. I have his perfume and favourite hat. I’ve kept all the notes with his handwriting on them. His photo is with me always and a minute doesn’t go by when I don’t miss him. I was and will remain a daddy’s girl.