April the 8th is my father’s birthday. That’s tomorrow. He would’ve been 63. In six weeks, it’ll be six years since he died. No matter how many times I say it, it still feels strange to say that my Dad is dead. Normally when people asked me about my family I talk about my Mum and siblings. Most people do not register the fact I haven’t mentioned my father, or they choose to ignore it. I preferred it that way. It helps avoid the awkwardness of people trying to find an appropriate way to react. But now that my Mum is dead it’s harder to be so dismissive. People notice when you don’t mention either parent.
I don’t mind others knowing my parents have died. What I hate is the compensating I feel I must do once someone hears the news. The awkwardness is painful. Sometimes the other person reaches out to comfit me, often they stammer through saying something that comes out as half-hearted and jumbled. Coming face to face with someone else’s pain can be confronting. I know this. It’s not an easy task to see into another’s grief. It’s even harder to find an appropriate response. I guess that’s the thing, there is no need to come up with the right response. The best thing to do is to be genuine.
Friends that have sat with me in silence have given me more comfort then those that have scrambled to find words. People who have been vulnerable enough to acknowledge that they have no idea what to say or do are comforting. Because I don’t know what to say or do either. All I know is that there is a physical pain in my chest, it’s like these emotions are tearing me apart inside.
It’s not always like this. Today I’ve had some emotional moments but I’ve also had some wonderful ones. My grief was once all consuming. Now it’s like a song that has gotten stuck in my head. The tune is always in the back ground, but I don’t have to sing the words if I don’t want to.
So, this is where I am. My father is dead. My mother is also dead. I have a beautiful daughter, a job that allows me to live the life that I have and the most incredible friends a person could ask for. Life has been harsh but that does not take away from any of life’s goodness. I have things to look forward to and goals to achieve. As for tomorrow I think I’m going to see how things go. All I ask of you, of anyone, is to be authentic. Don’t fake it until you make it. If you’re not sure, ask. If you’ve got no idea what to say, don’t say anything. Show up, be present and be kind. Not just to me, do it for everyone. After all, we’re in in this together.