I know it has been a while since I’ve written, but you are often in my thoughts.
You stop by with the mail in my inbox that spam-says its from you, in the silly line from a movie you always loved (“its alright Captain, we always knew you were a whoopsy”), in the perfect gifts I wish I could buy you, in the comfort of the sleep sheet you bought for me, in the days that would worry you and the stories I’d like to tell.
Sometimes you come with a smile, sometimes a frown, but I am always, always, glad to have you visit.
It has been eleven months since you died, though I guess you no longer care to count. At times that feels like a thousand years. At others, its like the held-breath I just let go of.
My world is a very different place now. I am a different person, and yet somehow I am much more myself. I think that was the last gift you gave me.
Grief, anger, sadness, regret, numbness – all these feelings fell like a flood on me in the weeks after your departure. All I could do was doggy paddle desperately and try to keep my head up above the water.
Now time has trickled by, the feelings have filtered and flowed through me, and I am different. I am softer, stronger, fiercer, franker, tougher and yet still gentler in ways words cannot touch or explain.
Your death came as a freedom for me, as well as for you.
We all know that life is short, but the days seem long. It is all too easy to forget, to wait, to say ‘tomorrow’ or ‘maybe’, instead of simply ‘yes’, or even letting the blind bloom of nothingness grow to fill silence with all that needs to be said. For you, I will never let myself forget that lesson for long.
I have learned to let things fall apart when they need to, to stop when that’s all my heart wants. I’m not always good it, but I’m getting better.
Now I can cry without caring who sees. I can pause without needing to explain. I have got better at hearing my own voice or at least sensing the place where I should let my quietnesses speak.
And Bab, I have been saying ‘yes’. In fact, I’m off on an adventure that would make you curse me, worry sick, and, of course, be peacock proud whilst trying not to let on. Parenthood is a tough gig.
I planned to come home for the anniversary of your death. I felt I needed to retreat, to be with you, to go to the places where you were, to mourn. But life happens, happened, and instead I’ve extending my trip by another month. The day of your death will find me rattling around somewhere in South America and that feels just fine.
When I think of it, the best possible way I could celebrate you, remember you, honour you, is by simply living my life fully, gratefully, joyfully. You do not need me to cry in a cemetery. I will not find you there if you are not with me here. And I know you are with me Bab.
In the first days, weeks, months, pain was like a scream that drowned out much else and dragged my attention, my focus, run ragged in it’s wake. Your memories were all tangled up in that scattered shout, and it was hard to reach for them, to touch you without hurt. But now pain just murmurs gently, on some days. It tells me when I need to stop, or go slow, listen, or maybe smile more.
You are not caught there any more and you live with me. You live again when I fashion you for my friends, when I tell your stories or laugh for no apparent reason at some silly thing you would say.
I am still proud of you, I still spend time with you and I am glad to have you back with me, even as I miss you.
I love you, always. I