Thursday, April 18, 2013
Six whole months since I had lunch with my Dad.
The picture of him standing at the doorway to the car park as I waved is so clear. I can smell the wool of his jumper.
He was looking so thin. I never mentioned it to him. He knew the weight was falling off him, over 25 kilos in a couple of months is not something you can ignore, but there wasn't much we could all do about it.
The place where we sat and had lunch that day, the cafe within the building that I work, I found it hard to walk past those seats some days. Sometimes other people were sitting in them. Other people just like us, one a patient, the others the family and friends of that person. I wanted to go up and whisper to them to run away.
I wanted to whisper, "get out of here, you don't have much time". But that is my story. Their story, it's on another track, a different time, a different history. They still have the one ingredient everyone needs in life. They have hope.
My Dad died with Hope.
On the inside he would have known that his body was winning. He had discussed with Mum that he was not to be resuscitated if the option was given. But he was planning on fighting, to prove the doctors wrong. He asked the doctor to get him well enough to take one trip, just one three week trip that he really wanted to do. The doctor simply said "I will do everything I can". Together they had a plan, the main ingredient in that plan was Hope. It just wasn't to be.
My Dad now has a plaque where he is buried but I am yet to see it. I went to town but I didn't have any time to myself. Some things I need to do by myself. To take the time I need and not have anyone talk to me. Talking can be so loud sometimes.
One day I got sent some Chia Seeds in the mail*. Mum and I really laughed at them sitting there on my bench. Years ago we gave Dad a hard time about spending a fortune on a massive bag of chia seeds. He had laughed back at us telling us how they are a super food, a food that wards off disease. Stupid chia seeds. I threw them in the bin, because disease is evil, it picks people at random and attacks without mercy, no amount of chia seeds can keep it at bay or maybe disease loves chia seeds, maybe the amyloids grew so fast because he had too much chia in his body.
The last six months have seen me experience anxiety like I never knew existed, I’ve begun grinding my teeth and managed to lose weight while cancelling my gym membership. I have learnt about probate and passwords and insomnia.
During the late nights when the world is asleep I have listened very carefully to see if my Dad was talking to me. I have spent hours on real estate websites seeking out a dwelling or location that has some kind of magic power to make everything feel ok. I’ve sought a place that I could move to where things will feel better. A place to run away to, a house surrounded by big trees that have fairies living in them who make everything wonderful.
That place doesn’t seem to exist, and if it does, the truth is, that my pain will follow me there.
In the daytime I have been splashed with kindness from people in so many ways. I have been given random gifts of lovely and felt support from the least expected places.
And life, it continues to move at the most rapid of paces. Those seats we ate our last lunch at; they are gone now. Replaced with builders and hard hat signs for renovations and extensions. The veggie crops Dad planted have been harvested, eaten and cleared away. The grandkids have all celebrated another birthday, we have made it through Easter and Christmas and Mums 60th.
One night months ago I got a tweet from someone with two simple words.
Most days, that is all you can do. Just Hold Tight. Ride out the storm. Fill that black hole in your heart with busy and when you can’t just hold on. Hold on to your kids, hold on to your husband, or your family and when they are not there, reach out for your friends and hold on to them. Life sweeps you along the rest of the way…even when you never eat the chia seeds.
* I get random items in the mail from time to time from companies wanting me to discuss their products on social media.