The thing about forever.

Thursday, April 15, 2010



This is one of those posts that has been waiting in my draft folder for months... five months to be exact. You see, when I started writing it, I had been thinking about grief and how it changes over time, takes different shapes, plays different roles in our lives. Sometimes the grief is closer and sometimes it's farther away. For most of us, the empty space in our heart after someone we loved more than we even realized is gone, is always there. Some days, it's just a part of the melody that is my life... Other days, like the day I started writing this, grief is the only song my heart can sing. In my work as a therapist, a friend and a human being, I've often said that grief will wait for you. It turns out, words will too. I may not have been able to write this five months ago, but the words waited for me.

i dreamt about my father last weekend. more than once, perhaps more than twice. i always know when i've dreamt about him because i wake up feeling as though he was just with me. it's almost as if i can feel him, he's that close... sometimes, when i wake up, there's a few moments, those precious moments between wake and sleep, where i forget that he's gone, that he's been gone for almost nine years now.

after my dad first died, a friend told me that it took her almost ten years to really believe that her mother wasn't coming back after her death. i remember thinking how odd that sounded. in the first moment i learned my dad was gone, i knew he wasn't coming back. intellectually, i knew. i understood instantly the heavy permanency of his absence. however, i have learned over the years what my friend meant.

you see, i've come to realize that the heart doesn't understand the thing about forever.

so, yes, i knew immediately you weren't coming back, dad. what i didn't know, couldn't possibly have known then, was how my heart would struggle with this fact, would come to realize it again and again, as if it were the first time, a million times. forever.

i couldn't have known how your voice and your hands and your laugh and your smell would be imprinted on my heart in such detail that i could almost convince myself that you were just here last year or last week or the day before yesterday.

i couldn't have known that some days your death would come to me in an aching, breathless moment and it would feel like that first day you left us.

i couldn't have known the depth with which i would miss your goodness, your unending love and loyalty.

i couldn't have known then that it would still hurt this much to write these words at 2am on a thursday in april nine years later.

14 comments:

  1. i lost my dad 2 years and 4 months ago.i dream about him quite frequently,and always had this horrible feeling of loss all over,when i woke up.

    until one day a lady who works for my mom,told me that the people from her village believe the spirit of the deceased visits you whenever you dream of that person/animal.

    this instantly made me so much happier.which isn't to say i don't still wake up crying sometimes.or that i don't cry whenever i see a picture of him,smell his old cologne,hear his favorite music,etc.i don't think the hurt will ever fade.

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  2. i feel your pain. my dad's been gone now for almost three years....three years that my heart has held a terrible void and longing. this entry really tugged at my heart and it means a lot that you shared this. thank you.

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  3. This just made my heart hurt. I wish I could reach through the computer screen and give you a hug.

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  4. My grandmother helped to raise me and was closer to me than my own mother, so when she passed the year I graduated high school, it was the greatest loss of my life. She must be visiting me in the same way. I often in the following years would go to call her and realize I couldn't. I am really moved by these words from you and your friends. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  5. I GET THIS! The empty spot isn't the same as he wasn't my dad, but he was my uncle Buzz from my earliest memories, when I was the only kid around to this very day and forever he will be my uncle Buzz. Memories triggered by familiar surroundings at your Mom's to the most random things, things that make me smile and feel nostalgic all at once. I love you and the whole family, forever.

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  6. Thanks for writing this. I feel your strength and vulnerability all at once, and I love you for it!

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  7. Wow, you got me. Crying. Ha.

    I lost a very very very dear part of my family almost 11 years ago. It is still so very hard for me to deal with, because I loved her very much. And I still wake up some mornings wishing I could just be with her. There are times when the grief - still after all this time - is as fresh as it was the evening I found out she was dead. But, It gives me small comfort, in knowing that wherever she is, in this moment,, that her memory lives on, and keeps me strong. She is a burning light in my heart, just as your dad is for you.

    Thank you for writing this Kathleen. You may not realise it, but it means the world.
    x

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  8. he sounds like a wonderful father, that is beautiful in itself. also beautiful, is how you loved him and still do. I am sure he is smiling right now.

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  9. I'm so sorry. My Dad died on Christmas Eve three years ago. Sadly, by then we had no relationship. I always wonder what might have been.

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  10. I'm really glad that you shared this, I think it's really brave, and it actually made me cry - which is a good thing :)

    My dad past away 5 years ago and I got told not to cry becasue I had to be brave for my mum, which is a pretty stupid thing to say to someone tbh. To this day I still play along that he'll be back later, when I know in my heart he wont. I'd say it makes the pain hurt less, but it doesn't because every time realisation hits I completely break down and I stay up through the night crying silently.

    Just knowing that someone else out there understands makes me feel less alone.
    Thankyou (& sorry i've written a little essay here :)
    x

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  11. When beautiful, heartfelt posts such as these are written, there's really nothing to say. So I'm saying nothing.

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  12. You are a beautiful spirit. I just read your letter to your dad from last year. What tender words. And to have to get on a plane immediately afterward... I wish I could go back in time and sit with you. I've been struck too, with how powerful grief still is years and years later. But I suppose when our hearts are so intertwined with someone else's heart, it makes sense that little pieces of ourselves will always feel that loved one, and will always long to have him or her back. Thanks for sharing dear heart!

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  13. that is so sweet! of course part of the reason that makes me love you... <3

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