My father passed away last week. It’s not possible for me to create a blog that doesn’t reference this huge event. I wouldn’t want to avoid it, and I see this as an opportunity to work through some personal things that are common to us all – we all know what grief looks like. I loved this C.S. Lewis quote that I came across recently; I have taken some time to think what this means to me.
Dad was that ideal daddy, when I was a little girl, who could do no wrong and who I loved unrestrainedly, unconditionally. I was very lucky. Later, I knew him as a fallible human being, but one I could relate to as our souls would contact each other, sometimes just through eye contact. There was always a special bond. Some days before he died, I imagined I saw a brief glimpse of that and I’m grateful.
Moments of recognition, by then, were rare. My father lived to be 92 but I would have to say he’d mostly slipped away much earlier than that. At the age of 79 or so, he was diagnosed with dementia and that slowly took pieces of him away year after year. We started grieving a long time ago, then.
At the same time, we couldn’t know when this would end, how much damage there would be – and we certainly didn’t want his life to end any sooner than it had to. For him, this was a very difficult period of his life and “no way to live” was what he could be heard to mutter at those really hard times. Not too often; he was made of stern stuff, in the manner of his generation; but by that same token, he was proud and his dignity was a thing he held dear throughout his life.
It doesn’t matter to me who he was, what his achievements were other than what I’ve just expressed, how he appeared to me. How I will remember him – how I will choose to remember him, that’s what is important. He was, in all, a kind, decent man. My siblings have their own memories, as does my mother who survives him, and we all hold those personally dear.
What will take me a while to process is how much grief is like fear; that end piece of realising we cannot choose when or why or the manner of our leaving, having lived lives where we felt we controlled the big things to find that, no! We don’t! All illusion! Being with my father who had time to come to terms with his life having a finite point, any time now, really brought that home for me.
Still, like fear, we need grief as a signifier and from there we can move forwards to healing. That healing then becomes a new learning and part of who we go on to become.