It’s 264 days since my Dad died. Nothing particularly significant about that, I had to sit and work it out as I don’t carry a mental tally of the days since his death. In one hundred and one days I’ll have lived a full year without one of my parents. I feel very lucky that my Mum is still very much alive and living, and I’m well able to focus on all the positives of life after Bobby, but just this week I’ve been missing him no end.
In most situations in my life my inner researcher usually guides me to find and devour information about said situation. When it comes to grief I’ve been incredibly slack and not really done much exploring at all. I don’t know what is normal, or to be expected, whether there are such things as ‘norms’ when it comes to something so intensely personal. On the whole I think I’m coping remarkably well, so well in fact that there have been one or two instances where I’ve found myself agreeing with people who suggest that ‘it should be easier because we knew it was coming’, or ‘of course, you had time to prepare’. These things are factually very true and there is more than one blog post on this site bestowing the virtues of discussing and planning for death, that said I don’t know that you can learn life without someone without doing, acting, existing through it.
These last few weeks I’ve felt like I’m really missing Dad. I’m sure after the first year goes past it may get easier in some way, I’m painfully aware that this is the first decent summer in a while we’ve had weather wise and he’d have loved it. I keep catching myself intending to share with my folks that I’ve planned something, or done something, or seen something. My brain is a bitch at times, that or it just hasn’t caught up yet so it tricks me into the plural ‘note to self – tell parents’ and then crashes back to the present with the reality of ‘must tell Mum’. This last weekend I was away on a micro-adventure on the Swedish High Coast (a post on that another time). The weekend was littered with occasions like I’ve just described, things I thought Dad would have enjoyed or been interested in. Yesterday morning I got up at sunrise and took a canoe out on the sea in the little inlet where we were staying. It was beautiful and relaxing and peaceful and afforded plenty of time to think and reflect on life and put simply, to miss Dad.
It’s not all bad though, it’s a good thing to stop and think about him, to remember him, to consider how he’d react to a piece of news or an event of some sort. I’m constantly replaying what he’d say in my head, so just yesterday as I was about to jump off the train carrying my walking boots I heard his voice niggling in my ear ‘best way to carry them is to wear them’…on that occasion I caved in and listened to it and put them on. On others I chuckle to myself and carry on regardless.
I’ve been toying with whether to share this on here for a wee while but hell, what’s to lose! In the weeks before my Dad died I temporarily moved in with my parents and in one of the long meandering conversations my Mum and I had it came up that she needed new walking boots. I was raving about how comfortable mine were and the next time I went home I brought them with me for Mum to try on. She was doing this and did the laces up with such force that they snapped in her hand. In a bizarrely macabre, yet practical suggestion, Mum suggested I replaced my laces with the ones out of Dad’s walking boots – after all he’d not be needing them again!
I did just that and since Dad died I’ve found a sort of strange comfort in walking and exploring, new and old places, knowing that there is something of his with me! On a rational basis it is completely nuts, it’s a shoe lace, it’s not my Dad and yet it somehow serves as a prompt for his spirit. He loved travel and never shied away from adventure. Years ago, the first time I canoed down a river I clearly remember time fleetingly standing still at the top of a weir with my Dad’s voice urging me on, paddle fast and enjoy it and my Mum’s asking why anyone would want to throw themself down a river in a piece of plastic!! On that occasion I paddled on, and have tried to embody his approach on many occasions since. I figure, that irrational or not, it’s useful to have a physical, tangible reminder of Dad and what he’d encourage me to do with me.
Since his death I’ve walked his laces around Devon, London, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This weekend we made it to the Baltic Sea and after sharing a pic on facebook felt a warm glow as my bruv and sis both confirmed my suspicion that he’d be delighted at the activity they’ve seen.
I’m not quite sure why I’m missing Dad so much at the moment, as opposed to on other occasions like my birthday which relatively speaking went like a dream. Maybe I’m just choosing to spend more time remembering and thinking, maybe it’s a byproduct of doing what I can to live in the moment and embody his approach more, maybe it’s the simple mundane fact that 264 days holds no supposed significance. Whatever it is, I’m not sure, but I’ll keep lacing up those boots and embracing it, loss and pain and happy memories and whatever else life throws in this direction. Here’s to the next 101 days of walking and missing.