The smoke in front is thick, its hazed and clouded. Nothing within it makes sense, nothing within it holds an answer. You watch the foggy grey patterns wisp in front of you, unable to grasp them, unable to understand them. It’s heavy, it’s dark, it’s lonely. You long for rays of the sun to come down and burst through the mistiness, to burn away the mottled view with its powerful light rays. But nothing changes, no light comes, no fog disappears, you feel lost. Lost within yourself, lost within your pain, lost within your grief.
This is a place I have been in often, it was a place I stayed at the very beginning for a long time, a place I struggled to find my way out of. I felt numb, nothing had a meaning, nothing inside me felt alive anymore, a huge void, an evident void, controlled me. I didn’t feel stuck as such, I almost felt safer somehow being there. Perhaps I felt closer to my dad in some way, staying in that place, but in time, somehow I managed to work my way back, back into the light, back into feeling purposeful, not whole, but slightly less empty. However, I can still, and more often than I’d like, end up there. Back at the beginning, back in those memories of the trauma, back in the fog, back in the darkness of my grief.
When my dad was at the very end of his journey and on end of life care, I felt I had prepared myself. I felt that I had control. We knew this time would come at some point, so why would I not be prepared? I remember sitting with my dad when he was unconscious at the end, we all had moved into my parent’s house, the 6 of us, my brothers and sister, united as we had agreed to be, to witness and support one another for this time we all knew would eventually come. I would sit with my dad, and lay my head on his pillow right next to his head. I’d study every inch of his face, taking every mental picture I could knowing that soon, a photo and my memories would be all I had left. I’d count his freckles that had joint together over the years, giving him a permeant glow that I loved so much. I’d watch his face move, in an attempt to communicate, or a smile at something funny one of my brothers had said. I’d feel his hand in mine, the hand that I had held since I was a little girl. Even though he was now so weak he still felt strong, he was still and still is invincible to me. My protector, my guardian, a huge part of my world, and my heart. I’d lay and be accepting of what was to come, surrendering my heart to the fact that at any moment, at any time, his body would draw it’s last breath and he’d be gone. But as prepared as I felt, as strong as I felt, I realise now, I was not. Yes, I projected a vibe of complete strength and that was for two reasons. One was to support my mum and my siblings, I am the eldest and I feel a duty as the eldest sister to do that for them, and the other reason was for my dad. I could not live with myself if I had not done everything in my power to make him feel safe, to take some of his fear away, to hold him fully in his transition from life to death. I wasn’t strong, deep down I crumbled, deep down my heart was screaming inside, deep down I felt so so completely lost, but I chose to feel the strength over the weakness inside. I had to feel that, I made that choice.
I remember making dinner in the kitchen, we’d all take it in turns to cook and clear up, trying not to put to much strain on our mum or responsibility so she could fully be with dad. I remember hearing an agonizing gasp behind me one evening when in the kitchen and turning around and my sister falling into my arms. Crying from a place of complete devastation, her heart was being broken, and there was nothing I could do at that moment to fix it. She sobbed and sobbed, almost unable to hold herself up. I wanted so much to be able to take her pain away, to heal her. We always said we felt so prepared, we always spoke as a family openly about this, even dad sharing, crying, talking about how he felt about dying, but nothing in this world, nothing, prepares you for it.
I was woken up by my sister in the night around 4.30 am, my son Gabriel was 11 weeks old and asleep next to me in his cot. She came in and gently said, dad had gone. I went downstairs, with my brothers, to see my mum laid with my dad, tears streaming down her face, her head resting on his chest, gripping onto him, with one last hope that somehow this could all be an awful nightmare and would just go away. I remember walking over and stroking his face, he looked so peaceful, everything was so calm, but you could see that part of him that always shone so bright was now gone, that strength, that passion, was gone, he was just a shell now that once carried that brightness and this is when it changed, right there, right then, my family and I were all lost.
Being lost is where we all remained for a long time, we were disconnected, we didn’t feel whole anymore. And not only whole in ourselves but whole as a family. A part of our hearts was taken away that morning, and it’s a pain I now know, will remain for the rest of our lives. I want you to know that feeling lost isn’t a bad thing, it’s natural. What else do we expect when someone who has been a part of our daily lives for so many years just disappears. As I said, I can still feel lost at times, alone in my journey, isolated within my pain. But its ok, its ok to feel all those things. Just know as we learn to live in a new way, as we learn to move forward, the feeling lessens. Yes, we may end up back there at times, but we learn to notice, we learn to understand, to know that it will pass. The fog will clear, things will again feel brighter and more whole, and although our lives have all been reshaped beyond our control, we have one another, we have this life, and for now, until it’s our time to leave, that has to be enough. Like everything in life, this feeling, this fog, will pass. Go gently with yourselves, today and every day to come x
Remember your power, remember your strength, remember you have and always will have a choice.
Live for now, live for me, until we meet again x