The slow burn

I got some lovely and amazing comments on my last post.  Thank you all so much.  I have been thinking recently that writing this blog enabled me to find words when I needed them.  It's enabled me to process thoughts as I write, and be brave in sharing what's really going on in my head.  Who knew that something that started as a multimedia assignment would turn into this?  It's taught me so much, and probably changed who I am.

So...the funeral.  I think it was as lovely as these things can be.  The celebrant was great and spoke of life being like the chapters of a book.  This resonated with me greatly, being a librarian and a book nerd.  My eldest brother got up and spoke.  Craig left home at 18 because he and Dad used to clash.  He suffered the difficulties that a lot of oldest children do, paving the way for the rest of us.  He talked about many familiar things, Dad's love of golf, wine, Collingwood, Dr Who and the fact that he could never back away from an argument...even one he couldn't win.  I smiled.  He said how Dad's fire had died down as he got older.  He may have been a difficult Father, but he was a loving Pop.  Craig then said how saddened he was to see tears in his children's eyes because Dad had died.  And then he burst into tears.  Noone saw this coming.

Then it was my time to talk.  I focussed on my notes and hopefully spoke clearly and calmly.  I didn't cry.  But when I looked up, many other people were.  I spent the day holding my Mum's hand.  As Dad was loaded into the hearse by my two brothers, my eldest nephew and Peter, we all got teary.  As we said our final farewells and he was driven away to the crematorium we cried.  I remember letting out one huge sob and thankfully Peter came running to hug me.  We headed inside for that most english thing of cups of tea, sandwiches and scones.  A number of Mum and Dad's friends came up to me saying they thought I'd captured Dad in my speech.  One woman said to Mum that Dad would never be gone as long as I was around, commenting on how much I look like him.

The family went back to Mum's and we drank a toast to Dad and chatted.  It ended up being a long day.  I awoke on tuesday and felt drained.  Peter and I just chilled out and had a quiet day.  There were lots of phone calls, but it was nice to take a moment to stop and breath.  I had begun to feel a little weird though.  People's messages were so sweet and caring and spoke of taking time for my grief and what a huge loss it is.  I almost felt like a fraud.  I saw a friend the following day and talked about the last few weeks.  I only got a little teary once.  I felt calm and in control.   The feeling of loss was nowhere to be found.  I then went for a massage.  A treat for myself.  Perhaps it was that or just a delayed reaction, but on thursday I woke up with a heavy sadness.  Up until that point it had all felt surreal, but here it was - the tears.

This hasn't been the same as other experiences of grief.  Losing Robert was a shared experience and hard because he was the first person I lost.  When my cat had to be put down due to cancer, a number of years ago, it was the most acute pain I'd ever felt.  Literally like my heart broke.  Shattered into pieces.  My companion and unconditional love of 10 years was gone.  I couldn't stop crying.  But Dad dying has been different.  I guess somethings in life are a slow burn.  I remember writing just after Peter and I got married, wondering if it would make me feel different.  It didn't at the time.  I wrote something quite different 12 months later, about how being married now has the most deep and profound feeling for me.  Perhaps with big things, it can take time.

I tear up more easily now.  I got very upset heading back to work this week, knowing everyone would be mentioning it.  But it has been a supportive and gentle environment I've gone back to.  I had a little cry just this morning thinking about how Dad is missing the new series of Dr Who.  It's silly, but just the sort of thing to get me reaching for a tissue.  I don't believe in god and I don't really dig the concept of heaven (or hell for that matter).  A number of years ago I read Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy.  These filled the void (from Mum, Dad and I) after the last Harry Potter book.  Philip is well known for being an atheist and he wrote about souls being released and becoming particles.  The little glints you see in the air.  Part of the universe as a whole. Star dust.  I believe this was one of the most beautiful thoughts.  I think I will keep this in mind when it comes time to scatter Dad's ashes.  He want's to be thrown out to sea.  I'm pleased that he wanted to become part of the ocean.  That too, holds such immense symbolism for me.  We are part of nature and if we're lucky we're returned to it.

I'm sure by the time we contemplate Dad's ashes I'll be in a different headspace again regarding everything.  The slow burn will continue to change me.  So keep reading dear friends.  There is much for me to learn.

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