I tried to avoid it, I did not watch much TV or read the paper or even flip through magazines for weeks now. I walked around the mall and in stores with purpose not looking around too much in an effort to ensure that I would not be subjected to the relentless reminders that it’s Father’s Day.
Especially this past week I have tried to obliterate it from my mind, I went out of my way to ignore all the cards in the stores, the ads which are very much EVERYWHERE but most especially I have tried to erase the dull persistent ache in my heart.
It is my first Father’s Day without my dad and I am suddenly struggling to find where this special day now exists with me. We are still very much grieving his passing especially since we only scattered his ashes two weeks ago. We are in such a sad place, confused and unfamiliar with the roles we are forced to play now that dad is no longer with us. There has been an endless stream of changes and they keep on coming causing me to feel more and more unsettled, almost like I don’t fit in my own skin!!
Donovan and I have spoken little of how we want to mark this day. We know that we want to but how? Do we carry on with our normal traditions…..well that is kinda difficult because there is no dad to take out for lunch after church. There is no dad to sing “happy father’s day” to and there is no discussion about the perfect gift. There is no dad to wake up with hugs and excited laughter.
Well there is no dad here physically. But dad taught us that we will always carry him with us. And that thought often brings me comfort. Just last night my brother and I were in the kitchen trying to make “Dad’s Chicken” which has since dad’s passing been renamed “Chicken Attempt” and as we were once again trying to work out the combination of spices my dad always used in his recipe I could smell dad’s scent in the kitchen with us. Yes, I know it sounds like I am losing my mind and maybe I am but I really did smell him as I was adding the garlic salt. It made me laugh because it was almost as if dad was egging me on to add more garlic which was his favourite. I told Donovan and he said that he dad had always said he would “haunt” us if we tried to make his chicken and we had a good giggle about it.
Donovan and I spent a lot of time with our dad. We both moved back home so that we could help out and especially help take care of dad’s ever increasing needs. But I struggle to define my time with my dad, I struggle to understand it. I am confused by it all. There was the time when I was his baby girl, then there were the years that he was my “Darra” followed by the days that he was just simply dad. Then came what Donovan and I refer to as the “Dark Ages”. The days when dad was sick more often than he was well. The days when his illness made him despair and the countless moments when his illness made him angry and frustrated. The long days filled with stressful fights over not eating and the longer nights filled with sadness and utter exhaustion. The endless trips to the emergency room, the longest trip of my life was the day I had to drive behind the ambulance taking my dad to the hospital.
Then there was the 6 months before he passed away. The helpless hours where I could just sit by his bed watching him struggle for each breath. Moments when his breath became so shallow that it scared me to death. Days when he struggled to walk down the hall to the bathroom. Hours where he was confused and the once or twice that he did not recognise us. Then I think about the days before he left us. The hours of endless conversation, the laughter, the teasing, the learning and most of all the loving. But if I think of those days then I must think of 24 December 2012 and that is just too painful a day to recall. But it happened and if that day happened then so did all the days between then and now.
The days before dad became ill, Those happy carefree days, the days filled with sickness, frustration and sadness and the days between his death and now have become combined in my head….I battle to separate them. Like a mantra I tell myself over and over that all I need is time (all WE need is time) because in the end the wonderful memories of all the good moments, days and years will triumph over the endless ones filled with illness and sadness. I recall over and over a line from a long forgotten movie “Time has a funny way of giving us back what we lost, through our memories.”
Donovan and I will find a way to honour dad on Father’s Day, we will make new traditions which will celebrate the amazing man that my brother called “old man” and I called “Darra”.
But on this my first Father’s Day without my dad….I am just going to do whatever I can to get through the day!