So yesterday it was a very good friend’s mother’s birthday. Her mum isn’t with us anymore either and for long enough I never fully understood it. I always tried to be there for her but never got it. Then years on, she’s turning up on my doorstep, flowers and a huge Tupperware of chilli in hand hugging me as I sobbed because Poppa M closed his eyes forever the night before. Suddenly something shifted, she knew I knew and the support we could give each other was different, better, more in tune.
Only it’s also not the same, she was younger than me, she missed out on more than me, yet it’s also similar, we’re both parenting without a parent. Which is a whole other aspect of grief and learning to cope without your lost loved one.
Something we chatted about last night is something that it took my awhile to realise. You see the thing is, we all remember things differently and also project forward what life would’ve been like with that person around, but that shouldn’t really matter. I sometimes view my memories of my Dad through rose tinted glasses, but I was always a little bit guilty of that when he was alive. I forgave and forgot too easily with him sometimes but I’m ok with that and I’m ok with focussing more on the positives of our relationship these days. Because if that’s what gets me through missing him then does it matter? Does it effect anybody else? Not really.
More relevant though, I often think about what my life and P’s life would be like of he were still here and quite frankly it’s a selfish and false view. He moved back to India and chances are he would’ve finished his trip as usual, flown home and we’d have had awkward Skype calls after he’d drank too much cheap Indian whiskey and only seen him for his annual visit to smoke cheap Indian cigarettes, eat me out of house and home and whinge about the price of everything being more than a few rupees! But I’m seem to imagine him being here, praising me for the progress I’ve made in my life as a single mum, dancing around little P like she was a princess and getting on my wick as I tried to do anything. I imagine him living here with us (not actually in my house, hell no) and being around us all the time. Which in reality he wouldn’t have been, he’d have spilt himself across India, here and my brother’s place across the pond. Reality would’ve been very different to what I’m imagining.
Does it matter though? Grief doesn’t go away and in order to cope and move on healthily you have to find coping mechanisms, safe ones. Therefore I can remember and imagine what I want providing it’s not hurting anyone else emotionally or physically. Which is what I told my friend when she said she felt she didn’t have enough to go on sometimes and wished she’d known her mum better and for longer. At the end of the day, we all wish that, because once someone is gone that’s it, they’re gone and we just long for them to be there to see how they’d react and be if they were around now.
So I’ll stick with the memories I want to keep and the ideals I’d like to imagine if he were still here. Because despite anything, I really really miss him and would love him to still be around. Warts, red wine stained lips and all.