To All The Fatherless Daughters: I Share Your Grown-Up Tears
He was so great and that's what made it so sad.
My dad was a huge presence in every part of his life which is why his sudden death left such a large hole in so many lives. Now, on the cusp of his 11 year anniversary I find myself realising what an indelible impact the death of a parent has on our lives.
For a long time after he died, I had a fantasy that he had just disappeared out of the emergency room doors that night, hospital gown flapping in the wind as he hopped into a cab and left to start a new life somewhere. I would imagine I walked past him someplace, weeks later, and he would give me one of his winks as he merged into the crowds. His presence was overwhelming.
Despite seeing him after his heart attack, so still and vacant, I just couldn't accept he wasn't somewhere, anywhere in my world anymore. Grown up sisters shared beds that night after the long trip home from the hospital. No one wanted to move the shoes so casually kicked off under the coffee table. His winter scarf hung neatly by the door.
Even now, over a decade later, I try to sooth myself imagining him better off having died so quickly, and in his own home. But the real truth is that he would have been devastated to have died at just 59 years old, on the cusp of a shift in his family life towards weddings and grandchildren.
He would have been so cross with himself for dying; so upset that his death meant brothers had to walk sisters down aisles.
The grief for my father was never all encompassing and dramatic. It was quiet and fierce and unrelenting, and I was angry at those who tried to distract me from it. I needed to clutch it close, it was my only link to him. I don't think that time actually heals but it does put a perspective on events. My sadness bubble got smaller, and happier events slowly warned the chill death runs through us all.
I loved my dad so casually, I loved him without even realising how much I was loving him. I ate my breakfast, I loved him. I went to college, I loved him. The instant he died I told him I loved him over and over again. I knew I couldn't save him, but I know he heard me, and knowing that was probably the last thing he ever heard dulls my ache more than anything else in the world.
So this year on his anniversary, I will think of everyone else who lost a parent; I will tell you that I feel your ache and I understand your loss. It is the price we pay for loving so deeply, and that should never be a bad thing.
I will spend his anniversary telling my children how wonderful their grandfather was, I will pass on the stories he told me, in the same way he told me, and I will share a peek into the life of the man that meant so much to me.
But, as always, I will take some time just to think of my own dad, and his brave heart, and maybe wrap myself up in his scarf just for a little bit.