By the end of 2017, I knew that 2018 was going to be my toughest year to date. For this, I mentally prepared and did all I could to ensure that I was capable to handle what came my way. However, it doesn’t matter how much you prepare – when the storm hits, you feel it such the same.
The year started okay. I was having some problems in a relationship I was in, whilst also preparing to move out of my marital home. My father was ill but he seemed stable. So far, so good. That is until I received a call saying that the end was near: dad was not going to make it. So I got on the first plane and made my way there. A few days later, he was gone.
Seeing his unconscious fragile body tore my heart in two. The pain I started to feel was no longer just mentally. I started to binge eat, not sleeping, and even experiencing palpitations. My body just went into autopilot, while my mind didn’t know where to go. How can my dad be in this situation? Why can’t he be cured? I kept asking myself the same questions time and time again, even though I knew the answers well. The feeling of hopelessness was intense, and all I could do was hold his hand and talk to him, praying that he found comfort in my words. We were lucky to have a night together where he regained consciousness, enough to know I was there, and we even chatted a bit.
The relationship between my dad and I was a complex one. He had a troubled childhood, and I was as strong minded as he was. Our time together, when I was growing up, was filled with painful memories but also glorious ones; at the end, he was my rock and I was the spitting image of him. My humour, my way of thinking, my outlook in life, were all his. I was, after all, his little girl.
After 7 years of few letters, and even fewer phone calls, we decided to make peace with the past and relish the good times we had. Once I became an adult, I become more empathetic, and understood his actions more. He also saw how life has a funny way of teaching you life lessons and how something we have no option but to change our way. So we both forgave and forgot. Looking back, I am so glad we did that. Our relationship never returned to what it once was, but like he always said: ‘We have a connection – we can look into each other’s eyes and we just know’ and that was all there was to it.
When a parent or a loved one passes away in such circumstances, it makes you wonder about life, and about all the things that make you happy. It puts things into perspective; small things no longer matter and you start looking at the broader picture. I often write in this blog about the ways I find to live a happier life, whilst worrying less and letting go of any stress. I must say that seeing how brittle and fragile humanity is, truly makes you want to live life to the fullest.
Another thing this experience is teaching me, is that it is important to create happy memories. Dad and I may have gone through difficult moments, but what I relish the most are the happy memories. The days spent fishing, trekking or being lazy by the beach. Our discussions about politics, and world affairs. Our love for food, music and movies. Our passion for life. We were two peas in a pod, always talking, always laughing.
A friend of mine said that the pain never goes away, you just learn to live with it. How right was she! However, I won’t let that pain define me – if anything, it reminds me how short life truly is. Enjoy the small moments, forget quickly and love fearlessly.
This is what my dad would have wanted.