Saturday 6 September 2008

Life becomes worthless if you choose not to live it!

The word on the street is that this colyoom has been rather depressing of late, so with that in mind, I feel the time has come to lay to rest my grieving process.
Clearly I'm not ready to stop missing my Dad. I will always miss him, love him, and I fully expect further surprising apples of grief to float to the top of the barrel over the next few months and years.
What I can do, to help myself and liberate you loyal colyoomistas from the endless references to his death that have been littering this space recently, is to draw a line in the sand; finally let out that which I have as yet been keeping in.
When somebody dies, everybody wants to help and nobody knows what to do or say.
The most ubiquitous piece of advice handed out is that it is good to talk. Well, there's good common sense like that, and then there's the reality of how you feel. Even though my life is blessed by a plethora of loving and supportive friends, I have pretty much kept my process to myself. Unable to hide my feelings, even when I want to, my emotional state has been there for all to see, but inside, I have been dealing with everything as well as I can, whilst not reaching out as one might.
Despite the universally-accepted stages of grieving, we are fantastic fallible and freaked-out humans, with processes as individual and different as we are ourselves.
Having said everything I needed to say to Dad, I had no denial, acceptance or bargaining to deal with. Instead, I encountered the effects of the 11 year-long process of flying back and forth to be there when he was in and out of hospital. Everyday life became traumatic; affeared of the telephone ringing; at any given moment off to Galway Airport and away.
I always knew there'd be a payoff for that, and boy, so there was, in the shape of months of bewildering exhaustion.
Then, out of nowhere, the other night I was watching tele and started to cry. I cried and cried and cried, finally feeling the pleasure of pure unadulterated sadness flowing through me. No longer the confusion of utter fatigue.
Just tears.
What a shame Dad couldn't have been at our wedding day. How strange it will be when the football season starts and there's no Dad to call. What's the point in reading the cricket scores any more, what with Dad being dead and nobody else giving a damn?
Sad, at last. Sitting on the sofa, finally free and able to miss my Dad.
Up until then my grief had taken various forms, all of which felt completely unsurprising and understandable. These differing emotions and thoughts appeared, one at a time, in my heart or head, allowing me to deal with them each in a gentle and private way.
There really didn't seem to be any need to talk about it all with other people, because none of it was a mystery. I felt confident that I could best deal with it all on my own.
Without doubt, the hardest stage was when my usually optimistic, fearless and confident nature started to be bombarded by morbid thoughts.
When you're young, your grandparents are the first to face their fate, and then your parents move up a notch. With Dad gone, I suddenly saw nothing between me and my own death, and dark defeatist thoughts filled my head and deadened my heart, placing a chill into my soul that froze me for a while, forcing me to re-evaluate dreams and ambitions that had been, up to that point, as solid and permanent a part of me as my life itself.
Ever since the age of 25, I have known that I wanted kids, but when Dad died, and I was recovering from the brutal hell of his gradual decline, I deeply doubted my desire to procreate.
Even before Dad died, I had been only too aware of how demanding being a new parent might be as I approach my 50th year, but for the first two months after his death, I was besieged by terrible fears.
How could I possibly put any other person through this dreadful, long and painful period that I had just endured? How could it be in any way responsible to have a child so late in life, thereby leaving the Snapper with a young thing after I had gone? How dreadful would it be never to see my children grow up? How difficult would it be for those children to live with an old and ailing father?
The great thing about emotions and irrational thoughts is that they exist alongside and despite all our knowledge, experience and ability to think rationally. Even though I knew what a load of old tosh these thoughts were, they were as real to me as my tired baggy-eyed phisog in the mirror each morning, and to some extent I have still not rid myself of them completely.
Such is the utterly personal nature of grief, I felt it pointless to discuss these thoughts and feelings with my nearest and dearest, because I recognised them for what they were: wholly natural and understandable parts of my own process. I didn't need to be told that such thoughts were nonsense, because part of me knew they were, while another felt they warranted some merit, which in small doses they do.
But I have never lived as one paralysed by fear, and I'm not about to start now. I know that in time these thoughts and feelings will have disappeared, only to be replaced by other doubtless challenging and draining stages of grieving. But while I have breath and while I am able to love and be loved, I will continue to embrace the new and face the unknown with high hopes.
Well, because, at its basest, life becomes worthless if you choose not to live it.
So there'll be no more colyoomistic references to my Dad's death. At least, not until such time as memory has allowed me to see the man I knew and loved so much before he was ill.
Then it will be a pleasure to share my memories of him with you once more.
Until then, this colyoom will endeavour to wrap a smile around your lips more frequently.

No comments: