I had a sudden realisation the other day. I don’t know this started or how it started, it just happened and has become the norm but we’ve become accustomed to referring to my Dad in the past tense.
When I realised it broke my heart, it was like an extra sudden stab in my gut, hitting me like a slap across the face, waking me up and reminding me he’s gone and that..We. Won’t. See. Him. Again. Ever.
If you you’ve never lost someone or lost someone that close to you, especially a parent then I’m going to be perfectly honest, you won’t get this. Sorry but you won’t. It’s horrible when you’re reminded that one of the two people that you’ve always had there to rely on isn’t. It’s unbearable and it’s doesn’t get easier, you just learn to carry on. Then something like this hits you and stops you in your tracks and makes you grieve a bit harder. It’s not always a big thing, it can be random, unusual, small and seemingly insignificant to others but it occurs unexpectedly and reminds you of the little empty hole you’re carrying around with you, the hole that you push to the back so that you can carry on and enjoy the good things in your life.
Like I said, I can’t remember when we started referring to him as someone from the past, as someone who doesn’t exist anymore but we have done. And it’s crap, really bloody shit. At first when he died, I constantly corrected myself for referring to him in the present tense, but then this gradually must’ve petered out. I don’t know when, how or why really, I guess it must be the norm. It’s hurts though. It makes him seem like an inanimate object or event that’s been and gone, like an item of clothing you wore out, film you watched or a dinner party you went to. Only he wasn’t…he isn’t…he was more than that.
He was/is a real person, a dad, husband (divorced lol), grandad (good old proud Poppa M), uncle, brother, friend (and maybe enemy to some!). He was/is someone we love (I refuse to say loved because I still love him, I always will) and someone we get angry at (yes even now still) someone we talk to, argue with, laugh at, laugh with, get frustrated with. We still do all of these things now only he’s not able to retaliate, it’s a one way relationship now, I don’t get anything in return. I guess that’s why he’s referred to as being in the past. I guess I just need to hold onto something, to keep a bit of him in the present.
My sister-in-law has a good way with words and often somehow just knows what to say, she gently reminds me that “he’s watching” and it helps me every time, she once told me when I dreamt about him so vividly that, “he’s paid you a visit” and it meant the world to me. I’d woken up feel a rush of sadness. The dream was so realistic that it felt like he was alive so it broke me when I remembered he wasn’t, then when she commented that he’d, “come to see me in my dreams” it made things in the world seem right again. So for a little while I’m going to try and correct myself and think of him in the present tense, even if only quietly to myself in my mind. Because really he is still present, if only in my mind and memories. That’s how I can keep him with me, in my memories.
I think what hit me when I realised we spoke about him in the past tense so casually, so normally as if it was ok and typical for him to not be here, just like the leftovers thrown out yesterday evening, is that life has carried on without him. Yes I know it has to, but when he first died that was what I didn’t want to happen, I didn’t want life to carry on, I wanted to stop the world and get off. Now I don’t want that, but I also don’t want to not have him either, unfortunately there’s no happy medium with this one, I can’t negotiate a compromise.
All I can do, is let out the feelings this has stirred up, note it down on here, exhale and then dust myself off and get back on the horse so to speak. Until something else comes along, knocks me for six and I have another stronger pang of grief for a moment and I have to clarify it all in my mind again.
We love and miss you Poppa M, and that’s in the present tense.