Family

What I have learnt after a year of grief

I have been dreading this day since it happened.

365 days ago my Dad died after suffering from rare bile duct cancer, cholangiocarcinoma. Forever and yesterday ago all at once.

I haven’t been able to write about it as it seemed too much of a confirmation that it had actually happened. It still doesn’t feel real to me but there are slices of my day when a dose of reality hits me and knocks me for six.

365 days ago you were still here, in your final hours, but you were here, with me, with all of us. We spoke and hugged and hung on your every moment and breath. When you died at 4pm I felt that I would never be the same and that I would always note that moment as the worst of my life.

Actually, I feel now that at 4pm you were finally free of those months of torture, unsanswered questions, pain and waiting. You couldn’t go out, you sat and looked at your garden through the window, I longed for you to sit outside. 4pm seems a release to me and it’s the time that has followed that I found hardest.

Everyday that passed from 26th March 2018 has been a countdown of days away from you, that I’ll never get back. Everyday I take a step away from talking to you, holding you and smelling you. You always smelt of tea and digestive biscuits.

Every milestone of your death passing felt an oddity in my head but I HAD to acknowledge it and feel that milestone for the whole day. I was compelled to.

24 hours, a week, a month, six months, Christmas, the New Year starting, a year since you died.

They have been ingrained in me and I can’t escape them. Moving into the next year from 2018 to 2019 was possibly the hardest so far, I felt worse than the day you died as I felt a world away from last knowing you. A year and a lifetime away.

Today marks a year but why should that be a defining moment? I have made today be a moment in my own head and yet the other day Freddie had his hair cut and it was similar to one he had just before you died. I remember him showing you and you were so impressed and laughed at his confidence about it, showing off. Just a hair cut and yet it brought back a wave of emotion. It destroyed me.

I see similar cars to yours or a man wearing a cap like yours and it shakes me inside.

Your blanket left on the empty living room chair, your black coat hung up above the radiator. Even the coat you wore when you visited me in hospital, at the start of your Illness. I see the beige coat and I feel shock that you seemed so well but inside were so poorly. I can’t shift that feeling.

Strange things like the car I drive currently, is one that you can and test drove with me and you agreed it was a good car and to get it. I torment myself with how I will feel when I sell it, I can’t sell it surely as it’s such a connection to you. I’m not even planning on selling it but I’m already preemptive if when it happens.

Photos on my camera that you took of me and the kids when you were trying it out because it was new, they make me well up and I find so hard to look at because I know it’s exactly what you saw.

The last card I have from you with your writing in, feels monumentally precious to me, I think of all the cards and pictures from before that i didn’t keep that are now gone forever and I wish I had.

The photos I didn’t take, the questions I didn’t ask you. Unanswered.

A year of grief has taught me that grief is unexpected and ambushing. It’s the small things that will become the large things, the daily moments that happened without celebration or identification. They come back and burrow inside your thoughts and torment. A year of grief has taught me that I have barely scratched the surface.

Here is more about Cholangiocarcinoma


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