It’s four weeks since Dad died. Four of the longest, and simultaneously fastest weeks of my life.
I’ve blogged a few times and am very conscious that I don’t want to turn into someone who just blogs about death and dying and loss…. and yet that’s sort of what I start typing when faced with a keyboard. I could have blogged about so much this evening, leaving work, holiday, Christmas markets, hope, life, job searching…the list goes on and yet I start typing about Dad (again). I’m not sure if it’s a natural reaction to keeping his memory real and alive, whether it’s just a habit that added purpose and meaning to his illness that I’m trying to transfer now, or whether it’s just the easiest thing to blog about…verbal emotional blog diarrhoea doesnt take too much thought (although I do *always* have to check how you spell diarrhoea).
It feels like there are so many words, words of thanks and acknowledgement, words of memory, words that need writing/typing/capturing, yet despite having so many words I can’t really describe how it feels. We knew that Dad was dying for a number of years, of course you know that you won’t really be prepared for it, but in some ways you are. I had imagined what life would be like without Dad, I had thought about speaking at Dad’s funeral – not planned it but mused a little about things and hoped I’d pluck up the courage to ask him if I could do so, is amazing where your mind goes when you’re sat in hospital waiting rooms and we spent a hell of a lot of time waiting.
I’m still pretty exhausted and I guess I feel relieved but I don’t really feel happy. In some ways it was a relief when Dad died, physically having barely slept properly for the fortnight that preceded it, and emotionally feeling that there would now be some certainty. Despite visiting numerous Christmas markets in five different cities in the last week, I still don’t feel at all christmassy.
Kate Granger wrote an excellent blogpost today about her emotions knowing that she is terminally ill; she had just got the news that her cancer was stable and she says this:
So you’d think I would have been over the moon. Not so. In fact I was on the verge of bursting into tears for a few days and remain a little on the emotionally labile side even now. I feel completely irrational about feeling this way. I should be happy. But in my mind everything was getting worse and there was a path to follow even though that path was not going to pleasant. Instead I am left hanging in limbo, a state I have existed in for months. It feels a little as though the rollercoaster has broken down with me left hanging upside down. How much longer is my reprieve going to be?
In April I wrote a blog post The cancer rollercoaster: living with the unkown when I returned from a week away to find Dad had been admitted to hospital as an emergency:
It’s been quite an immersion, not that I ever really escaped it on my week away, but it’s a real reality check as I sit on their sofa banging the keys trying to make sense of it, or share the lack of sense in it with you (assuming as the eternal optimist I am that someone has read this far), and think about how all encompassing living with not knowing is. There are so many unknowns and so little certainty, the immediate reflection is that it can feel overwhelming at times. It’s like a constant faulty rollercoaster ride that you can’t get off, occasionally it slows, in fact sometimes it stops just long enough for you to feel rational/balanced/normal again then it’s like it flies off again, throwing any sense of equilibrium out the side of the ride with you.
Kate talks about her approach to dealing with the uncertainty being to try and restore normality and return to work. I read her post nodding along, painfully aware that I have no normality to return to. My last working day was two weeks after Dad died, so that option is no longer there for me. In fact I think the uncertainty and lack of structure around my future is almost certainly contributing to my sense of disorientation. It’s not that I’m not grateful, in some ways I’m hugely relieved that I don’t have to return to work and try to get on with normality, after all I’m confident normal will never be the same now Dad has gone; I’m really very lucky to be able to start afresh in life. I’m enjoying the first holiday in five years without any concerns for what I’ll find when I get home which is really quite novel.
I do feel in a way that I’m off the fairground ride. Perhaps I’m just in that dizzy, head spinny, not quite reorientated state, still a little wobbly having just got off a ride I was stuck on for five years – everything is a little blurry, a little out of focus, a little soft around the edges. All of that said I wouldn’t have missed out on that ride at all.