jeudi 16 août 2012

My dad


I returned to Britain on the 23rd June leaving Berlin at the beginning of an amazing summer's day. My friend H. told me that Berlin had put on it's best colours for me. I cried when we took off and flew over the city skyline where I picked out the places I loved best in miniature. Yet somehow I felt ready to leave and my head was buzzing with plans for the summer. Trips to castles, great houses, ruins and gardens all together when we'd pack a hamper, watching sports events in the living room with my dad, spending my birthday at Castle Howard where they filmed Brideshead Revisited and then Venice where we had found the loveliest apartment a stone's throw from the Rialto and we could take a boat trip down the Canal Grande and my dad could do some sketching. Almost all these things have come to nothing though because he died ten days ago. Even though we know our parents are mortal, we like to imagine that  somehow our love will stop them from ever leaving us but on that morning before he died I knew that I was completely powerless to prevent him slipping away. There's something terrible about dying in hospital with monitors, tubes everywhere, machines, doctors and nurses taking blood and arranging scans. All these numbers which show a person's condition but can never express what they mean to you. Most of all I feel bad about the way it happened, the way he had to suffer for weeks because the local doctors failed to diagnose the problem, the way he couldn't eat or drink much at all that last week, the emergency abdominal operation he needed which turned out to be bigger than anyone had expected, the way the infections took over his whole body. Just a couple of days before he died, he seemed to rally and told us that he felt better for the first time and could get over this. We talked of stopping at McDonald's on the way home for his favourite strawberry milkshake and I promised to make a chocolate cake to welcome him home. But life decided differently.

He was one the kindest people who never complained, even when he must have been in pain, someone whose voice and hearty laugh filled the room. Everyone loved him and he loved us. He was my rock, the one who held everything together and would know what to do.

Grief is a strange process. The intensity of the pain scared me at first but now I understand that it's because he meant so much to me. The shock made me shiver with cold and unable to enjoy eating anything at all. I ate because I had to eat, because you can't give up on life. There is anger but also a whole pile of regret for the things I said or didn't say, guilt for the moments when I seem to keep going and don't grieve enough and guilt for the times when I break down completely and can't keep it together. I find it hard to know what to say when people ask me how I am and find June Carter's response best, "I'm surviving". Only the Olympics have provided a little distraction. Nights are a relief because the fatigue of grief overwhelms me and I fall asleep without thinking of much at all but then the mornings come too soon and I awake knowing that he isn't here. In his room his watercolour painting things remain undisturbed and I often go to sit there and be alone with all that is left of his presence. I miss so many things about him but most of all the solid warmth whenever he hugged me because I felt protected and loved.  If I can take any comfort in all of this, it's from the fact that he didn't suffer too long and that my mum and I managed to say our goodbyes just before they sedated him and attached him to the life support. I told him about Bradley Wiggins winning gold, that Murray had played and beaten Baghdatis again. He simply smiled and told us how kind we were for coming. I like to think that he didn't know how close the end was.

The funeral is tomorrow, a day I'm dreading but a day I need to get through somehow.  The trip for September to Venice is still on. There will be many tears and moments of heartbreak thinking about what could have been and feeling his absence. It helps me more than I can say to know that all of you are there for me, even if I haven't written for months. I'm not sure when the next post will be but please know that I haven't forgotten you.

23 commentaires:

  1. I'm ever so sorry about your loss. All my condolences to you and your family. I will be thinking of you tomorrow.

    What a lovely tribute. Your father must have been a wonderful person.

    Hugs,

    Rosa

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  2. Oh, what sad, sad news! Certainly a lovely tribute, I'm sure you're father would be proud of you, I wish I had had the luck to meet him as well. My thoughts are with you and your family, I send you a warm, comforting hug, strength and perseverance!!

    Chrissi

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  3. I am so sorry. My thoughts are with you and your family. Your memories are very precious... sounds like a wonderful man.

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  4. This is very sad. I don't know what to say. Take every moment that you need...Sending you a hug...

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  5. I am so so sorry about your loss :'( I am crying as I am typing this because this post was so full of emotions. It sounds like you had an amazing dad..all my condolences to you and your family. Lots of hugs!

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  6. So sorry for your loss but what a lovely and warm post about your Dad. He sounds like he was a great Dad to you.

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  7. I'm so, so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful and heart-tugging post you have written; I'm sure your words will reach across to him.
    My thoughts are with you and your family. Take care.

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  8. Je viens de t'écrire un courriel.
    Je pense à toi.

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  9. I'm having a moment of silence here for you, Emily, and sending strength your way. Take care, Denise

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  10. Difficile de trouver les mots justes dans pareilles circonstances... je n'imaginais pas que tu traversais une telle épreuve. Cette nouvelle me bouleverse. Je pense évidemment très fort à toi et je te souhaite énormément de courage pour demain, mais aussi pour les jours, les semaines et les mois qui viennent. Pourvu que tu sois bien entourée. Julia

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  11. Vraiment desolee pour toi et ta famille, Emily. Mes pensees sont avec toi pour cette journee et les suivantes. Courage.

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  12. Je lis cette note avec beaucoup de tristesse. Pensées d'ici pour toi et ta famille.

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  13. My condolences, I'm so sorry for your loss. Grief is a long process which takes its own time to work through. You will find a way to cope with your loss and carry on but you go on in a different way, always keeping the person you love with you in a way. I hope the good memories of your father and the love will bring you some solace in the coming days.

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  14. I am so sorry for your loss. Take care.

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  15. I am sorry for your loss, Emily. Your Dad will be always in your heart, and he also now became a very good angel who is overlooking you from Haven.
    Take care

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  16. Emily, I'm so sorry to hear of your father's death. I send much love from Berlin.

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  17. Oh, I am so sorry and saddened to hear this news. What a brave and beautiful post. I hope that the waves of grief will wash over you less and less often in the next coming weeks and months. I am sure that you filled your dad's life with happiness. x

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  18. I am in awe of the way you have just shared your loss with us, with honesty, dignity, truth and beauty.
    We are strangers but i am deeply moved and very sorry to hear about the death of your Father, the man carrying you in that first picture.
    My thoughts are with you and I will raise a glass to you and your Father tonight

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  19. Thank you all so much for the lovely comments - I'm deeply touched and feel sure my Dad would have felt very honoured reading them too. Reading them makes me smile even if the grief is pretty raw right now. Tomorrow we're flying to Venice and I'm hoping to find some relief in the sunshine and beauty of the place and imagine how he would have enjoyed it. Thinking of you all, take care.

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  20. I'm behind with everything - also catching up on blogs. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Your words are so powerful and beautiful - tears are running down my face. All the good memories and times you have had with him can't be taken away.

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  21. I found what you said here about grief to be very moving. Joan Didion in "The Year of Magical Thinking" gives a very thoughtful and deliberate explanation of what grief is, and this post reminded me of that.

    Losing those close to us is challenging, because like you said in a previous post, the world seems to keep moving while you are personally devastated. I've been there and it is so hard. But ultimately, you can embrace the fact that you loved each other dearly. That's what this life is all about.

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