Why is it so easy to advise others, to see them and their situation yet be blind to our own? Maybe it's like when you hold a book too close to your face and you can see sweet bugger all at a certain age? A little distance is needed to get clarity.
The past 17 months have been a time of so much learning and personal growth as we navigated the journey that is terminal cancer and mourned the loss of Natey. Both tragic yet very different. Different grief yet grief none the less. A few days back a friend in the US wrote the sweetest eulogy for her dog Dewey. She wrote about what a terrible, terrible puppy he was and all he had destroyed. All he had never learned to do. And then she wrote something like this…when I accepted him for who he was and not for who he wasn’t we got along just fine. He was a great source of love, company and comfort for her. And this got me thinking about my dad.
I wish I could have seen him more for who he was in my life than for who he wasn’t. I only got to see him clearly and properly at the end of his life. It was like the less physically present he became, the more accessible he became. His soul and spirit and love and affection grew as his body declined. I am very grateful I got to see him like that even though the cost was so high. I got to love him as much as I wanted, as I possibly could. And I felt loved in return. One day after a really hard day I lay on his chest and he patted my back. We didn’t speak, just connected. I didn’t say ‘love you Dad’ at the end of a phone call. I said ‘I love you Dad.’ The I is the important part. The deliberate part. He didn’t say ‘love you too.’ He said ‘I love you my girl.’
Yesterday on my wedding anniversary I looked at my wedding album. I don’t know why I didn’t think he was proud of me. Or at times felt unloved? He looks so happy and proud in those photos. He was not a super involved grandpa or father, that was my mom’s job. But towards the end, that moment when Max my nephew walked into his room and he was so ill but gave that incredible beautiful smile, well it was a revelation of how much he loved his grandkids and delighted in them. I wish I had seen all that all along. It is a bittersweet gift, this knowing how much he loved us all, how proud he was of his family including me. Of course me too?? How and why did I doubt that? I am incredibly sad he is gone. It is has been a long painful month but the end of his life was also a gift to me. To all of his family. I am glad we got to show our love for him in such a tangible way by caring for him. We got to tell him and show him and he got to tell us. It makes the loss that much more painful though.
I told a friend the other day her father loves her in the best way he knows how. How he is a product of his upbringing and generation. And the same applies to my dad. My dad really loved me, he was really proud of me. He couldn’t really say it or show it or maybe I couldn’t see it but it was still there and ironically it took an awful disease to bring healing and clarity. It makes his loss so much bigger. I miss him. All the parts of him. So much.