And yet...and yet.
All it takes is a tangential thought -- like the sadness that a 50-something-year-old man from our choir is dying from cancer -- to connect to you, father; all it takes is to think, for even a split second, of the pain you must have been in while the inside of your head was wounded by filthy shrapnel; to think of the whimpers they say you let out days later because you couldn't speak, couldn't articulate yourself; to think that you must've been aware of what had happened to you and you couldn't do a thing. You, who had always been so in control and so capable.
...to think of you falling into a coma and then slipping away from us into death.
And away from me, your little girl.
Eighteen(ish) years exist as if in a vacuum. Irrespective of how much I recognise that time has helped me deal with your passing -- and it has, that's time's gift -- the pain is still there, dormant. It rarely makes the lump materialise but sometimes, like tonight, I'm helpless to stop it setting up camp. All I can do is stand idly by and pray that a freak storm will come and douse the lump's campfire, force it to hurriedly yank out the pegs and cords of its tent while the wind flaps it out and about.
I pray the lump hauls ass from the campsite, posthaste.
I pray I'm granted comfort and peace from the sobering reminder of what it means to not have you here, dad; the reminder that you've been gone for almost 19 years and that you forever took a chunk of my damaged heart along with you while I flailed my arms and screamed after you.
* * *
I had plans to post something cheery and snarky before I wrote this last night, but then...I couldn't. My fingers hovered over the keyboard and froze. They froze in typing position while I tried to fake being cheery and willed my fingers to drop down on the keys. Juuuuust a few keystrokes of something hyperbolic or snarky...just be funny and light, dammit. C'mon! But no. I was overwhelmed by the hollowing feeling of sadness that I almost never feel these days because, thank God, I only ever think of our happy times. I seldom think of that which seemed unthinkable to beat when it was happening in late 1993.
But sometimes it thinks of me and finds me, and seizes me in a headlock; that broken spectre of my (almost-)nine-year-old self that lingers and hovers and creeps up behind my back, flinging me around and forcing me to look it square in the eye, even while I cower before the spectre because she is my kryptonite.
I think how lucky and blessed I am that I don't suffer from depression (and God willing never will), that I'm a resilient and content person who only once in a blue moon has these spells or funks. My mother suffers from clinical depression and I have witnessed first-hand how crippling the illness can be. Thing is, she's an incredibly strong woman who's been through so much, and most of the time she comes out on top; by nature she's a content and optimistic person. I'm with her every step of the way while she battles on.
When I come undone it's because my mind travels to the bad times, the period when dad was suffering, and this happens so infrequently because my mind usually doesn't "go there", thank God; I'm not naturally inclined to think of those bad times, I'm almost hard-wired to remember the good.
And, I mean, this is good. Very, very good.
And when these uninvited thoughts come, well, I deal with them the same way I've dealt with them for the past almost 19 years...I let them happen and I feel them and they recede, just like they always do. Just like they have to. As much as I'd like to fight them and shut them down and tell them to take a hike. I have faith that they won't overstay their (un)welcome.
They don't. I've learnt that much.
* * *
Listening: "Driveway" (Great Northern) = God, I love this beautiful song so...! | "The Lion's Roar" (First Aid Kit) = lush gorgeousness, pure and simple (thanks for the discovery, Tara!) | "Autumn Leaves" (Eva Cassidy) | "Never Let Me Go" (Florence + The Machine) |