I love anniversaries for the excuse to celebrate. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries…any excuse to get together with my loved ones and say “Hey, we’re doing well” or “Hell, we’re still alive!” is ok by me. But just as reminders to be happy roll around regularly, so do the anniversaries of sadness and tragedy.
The anniversary of my Dad’s death is creeping up on me, and although I haven’t had time to give it much space consciously, it lies heavily on my heart.
The death of a parent is a funny thing. All around me I see people much older than I am who still have living grandparents, and whose parents take an active role in their lives, yet I also know that many lose their parents much younger than I lost my Dad. It’s not shocking, demographically speaking, to lose a parent when you’re in your 40s, but the heart doesn’t consult statistics before it reacts. I knew my Dad was dying. His death was a release from terrible suffering, but I still miss him.
A year ago I was sitting in a meeting when the phone call came. There followed a flurry of people to notify and things to organise. As the year went on there were more and more things to sort out. We are still getting letters for him in the mail from companies we have never heard of, still notifying organisations who hold accounts for him or want to sell him stuff. But slowly the administrative burden has subsided, together with the shock.
Now we have grandparent days at school with a hole in them, and music concerts that he will never attend. Stories he won’t get to appreciate, and family celebrations where he won’t tell those terrible, terrible Dad jokes.
Sometimes I think I wasn’t the daughter he hoped I would be, and there were times when he wasn’t the Dad I wanted. Relationships within families can be complicated. There were so many conversations we never had, so many truths we never faced. In some ways I am grieving for the kind of relationship we never managed to create between us, and the things we never quite sorted out.
No relationship is ever perfect. I suspect no parent raises a child to adulthood without regrets. My oldest child is only 10 and my list of regrets is already too long to count (which is probably another post or 2… hundred). My relationship with my Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was my Dad, and I love him.
One year on from that shocking day – the day that I waited for, wished for, and dreaded – and I am past the shock and well into the grief. I miss my Dad.