I know myself that the third anniversary of my Dad’s death is not the best time to write this piece, it feels self sabotaging – self flagellation. Let’s pop open those old wounds, dig and poke around a bit until we get to a meaningful article, let’s use my own pain to write, and with every stroke (press of the keyboard but doesn’t sound great for literary effect) the wound gets a little deeper.
So why write this now? Why write something that I know is going to cause hurt, to cause pain, to bring up emotions on a day, when really, they can be done without. I’ll tell you why: because grief is an open wound – present tense. There’s no action of reopening, it is there, constant, present.
Grief is not a dull aching pain but sharp shooting moments of agony, of realisation, of longing, of not understanding. There’s an angry knot in the pit of my stomach, there’s vomit that creeps up my throat at the thought that death happened to you, that I will never see you again (sorry I can’t envisage some heavenly rainbow place in the sky), that all those memories, that life is gone. These thoughts creep out of the recesses of my mind, out of an inky void of blackness, in which there is nothing to fill – empty, gone.
Gone. What does it even mean?
I’ve seen it but I still do not know what it means. For 6 months I watched life wane away, from full moon, to gibbous, to quarter to crescent. But there was no new moon birthed in its place – just eclipse. Blackness. Nothing. That last phase was the hardest, watching you slip like a shadow around the moon out of sight, I could still imagine the sun being able to light up your eyes.
It’s been four years now. For a year this piece has sat, in the cloud, untouched. I knew it was there, sitting and waiting to be finished. For some sort of epic conclusion. Some hallelujah, some eureka moment of realisation – I am healed, the grief is gone! But it doesn’t exist. Another year has gone by, and I still feel the same. If not worse. As life goes on there are more opportunities, more situations that you should have been there for. More times I have needed you, in this last year more than ever. As the time passes, I change with it, the waves and tides wash over me, corroding and reforming anew in its place. It makes me wonder, would you really know me anymore? Has there been too much change? As the winding river of my life that you knew takes forks and splits into tributaries everything feels so different to what it was meant to be. This last year has been the most tumultuous, the most life changing. Maybe that’s why year 4 seems the most difficult of all. As I sat in an Edinburgh café with a coffee and an Eggs Benedict writing the opening to this piece, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to finish it, that it would be left discarded, did I think that when I next picked it up that my life would be like this?
No – but it’s also better than feeling like this:
“The worst part is when everyone else starts to forget, the first year, you get nice (unsure of the sincerity) messages “thinking of you” but as the years pass the day returns back to normality for the majority, it slips past without a blink of an eye. Here I am raw with the same emotions that hit me like a wave 3 years ago. It doesn’t go away.”
It doesn’t feel like that anymore. I’m not smothered into self-deprecating silence. I’m not isolated and ridiculed for my grief. I’m not made to think I need to “get over it.” I don’t feel like one of my goals for the year needs to be “stop being a cunt” because I’m made to feel like one constantly. Year four might be the hardest, but I’m not alone.