Of what once was. Of what you now are, and what you have to be.
Anyone who ever read my post Bye Bye American Pie or anyone reading this who knows me will know that 10 months and 28 days ago (to be exact) my dad died, all too suddenly and too soon. Myself and my family had a really hard time afterwards as we had some awful things to have to deal with. It just wasn't straightforward, like arranging a funeral, picking some flowers, selecting music. There were delays, post-mortems, arranging my poor mums life now without my dad in it. An inquest. It dragged for months. It was a horrible time. Grief mixed with stress, and stress mixed with grief. Gut wrenching, and painful.
But here we are nearly 11 months down the line, our first birthdays without him, our first Christmas and new year without him. How does it feel? Easier? Well I suppose some people would say it should do. You've got the 'firsts' out of the way, it's been nearly a year. The truth? I'm learning to live a life without my dad in it, but it still hurts as much now as it did back then. The indescribable feeling that grabs me by the throat and makes me feel like I can't breathe still visits me every day. The memory of touching his hand and whispering to him as he took his last ventilated breaths will be etched into my mind until the day I die too. When I close my eyes, I see him. Every single night.
My heart feels heavy, something's missing from it that was there before. You just never ever can tell how you're going to feel because, you don't know do you? You think it'll be similar to a grandparent dying maybe, you think maybe its like that, I remember when my nana and grandad died I was inconsolable. They were amazing, and were like a second mum and dad to us, I naively thought when they'd died, that it can't get worse than this, Maybe it'll feel a little more raw, but maybe I'll be older then and thankful of my time with my parents. You know, I've got friends older than me who's grandparents are still alive, yet my dad has gone. Too soon. I'm 34, I was 33 when he died. I thought he'd be here when my own children were adults. How wrong was I? My children miss him like crazy, we still have tears from them. My youngest won't ever remember him, yet she spent 3 solid days and three painful nights at 4 months old, just metres away from him whilst we took it turns to keep a bedside vigil. My nephew points to pictures of him and says 'grandad'. He's two. What can you say?
Time. Aren't you over it yet? Come on its been 6 / 7 / 8 months. Surely its got easier and you've moved on?
These aren't things people have said to me, but you can kind of guess maybe people think these things. Because people who haven't been through it don't know do they? So they try and say what's right but when you're grieving the wrong words will stay with you forever, and forever is a long time. Then you end up thinking maybe you're doing this grief thing all wrong, shit. I'm supposed to be over it now. Am I? What should I be doing? Why am I still feeling so sad? Shouldn't I be thankful for my little family. Guilt. Shit, don't say anything Jo. Put on the poker face then you can't be judged. Oh wait, the fairytale of New York is playing. That's dads favourite christmas song. Tears. Our first christmas without him. More tears. Quick stop crying before you get home. Poker face. What cheese do we need for Boxing Day, dad likes Stilton, shit dads not here. Lump in throat. Dad will need socks, he always needs socks at Christmas time. Shit, dads not here. Don't cry don't cry don't cry. Go order dad a wreath for his grave, lump in throat. Walk home. Tears stinging.
You get me? I studied grief as part of my university course, and did well in my exams with it. I had to remind myself this a few days ago when I realised I was giving myself a hard time for all the wrong reasons – peoples expectations. Grief has many cycles, they don't always run on order, they sometimes are repeated and here's the biggy – there's no time limit to be over it. So this is what I'm telling myself as I lay here unable to sleep with all these emotions whirring through my head. I don't always talk to people mainly because its still very raw. Not talking doesn't mean someone's ok, or they have nothing to say – When you may feel like quite the opposite. If I do talk, I talk a lot. Like on my nightshift a few weeks ago when I was telling the girls about a physic I saw, and some things that were said. I cried, I needed to.
What I'm saying, is if you've been through it then you'll know where I'm coming from – I won't say I know what you're going through because I don't. Every persons story and circumstances are different. It can be quite patronising to say you know how someone feels and this is a lesson I've learnt.
If you've not been through it yet, but have a friend who is, look after them. If they don't seem themselves, they're probably not, if they've changed, well wouldn't you? Dont judge. Were all different. Don't expect too much, constant presence isn't always needed (or wanted in my case), but just knowing someone's there is enough. Just a nod, or a hand is all you need.
I'll never feel the same way as I did before 10th February 2013, my life and its outlook changed immeasurably. A piece of me died along with my dad. That doesn't mean I won't be ok, I will be.
Things don't get easier. You just learn to live with this feeling.