Monday, July 30, 2018

Planet Grief

Nothing much in life is certain other than the fact we are all going to die one day.  After this guaranteed fact we have various ideas of what this means and where we go if anywhere at all.  Many of us believe in some kind of after life because 'nothing' is just too bleak.   We need to believe the people we love whose souls were intertwined with ours, are somewhere and if we think about them we can feel them, we sense them and we search for proof those souls we miss, are somewhere.

Planet grief feels a lot like planet depro.  At times I have wondered if I am depressed and could quite easily tick the boxes.  But then I allow myself to look up at the vastness and mystery of this planet I now live on and I know, it is grief in all its complexities and I live here now.

Sometimes I forget and I have moments of respite and of course, many moments of joy and happiness.   If I keep busy enough and swim till my lungs burst and run and run and run I can leave it behind for a while.  Biking is different.   It is a soothing lovely side of grief where I am outside in the sun and ever constantly thinking of my father searching the sky for an eagle hoping he will visit.  I feel protected despite the constant attacks on cyclists we face in my country.  I always pray and ask God and my dad to keep me safe.  They are a team now and I listen out for their voice and wonder what they would say.  About my kids and home and future career and life in general.  My protectors.  I searched so for that eagle yesterday but nothing.  And then Sofia tells me how they were driving and one swooped right down and landed on a lamp post as she drove past.   The relief.  Because gone is simply not possible and I can't do gone.  Thanks Dad, for checking up on Sofia.  She is better as you can see.  Her spirit is lighter.  Mine, mine feels heavy.

I have all the rules in my head and recipes of how I should do this but nothing makes sense.  Those 16 months of fucking horrendous cancer trying to use up as much sad as I could, well it just multiplied.  I wanted to use it up so only relief would remain.  We are 7 months in.  Life goes on and we go on but nothing will be the same ever again.  I suppose I was lucky to have lived so long without a significant loss.  The first was Natey.  The loss of him launched me onto planet Grief like no one else in my life ever has.  Not even Bee or Aidan really took me there.  Where even breathing hurts.   Once again the rules are out the window.  Who am I to grieve this little boy who I never met?  What right do I have?  It makes no sense but it just is.  And my dad.  We were not super close.  I did not have the same connection as Tertia.  So why am I so damn sad?  Am I making it up?  Is it the melancholy side of me?   Is it real?  Do I grieve for what wasn't but should have been?  The tease of closeness of the last 6 months and easy affection I craved all my life.  My sweet, kind, accessible brave father who I got to really see when he was dying.  I don't know.  I just know I miss him and think of him every day.  I miss the unit of my parents.  I miss us being a 6 person family.  Mom, Dad, Tertia, me, Nina and Paul.  Us.  Now it is the 4 of us and Mom.  And I can't quite wrap my head around it.  We live alone on our planets.  Our different relationships and dynamics and personalities means no one grieves the same even when we lose the same person.  It is lonely on planet Grief. 

I miss my dad.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What goes up, must come down.

I pretty much have 2 settings.  Super excited and stoked, positive and ready to take on the world or gutted, disappointed and sad.  I don't think I am bi-polar but just somewhat extreme.  It's pretty tiring for poor Gary and it's really tiring for poor me.

If I wasn't a HSP (highly sensitive person) I would be on an anti-dep or mood stabilizer to even out my emotions and highs and lows.  I would be somewhere in the middle, chilled and tra lah lah.  The last time I hit a massive, massive low and went on an anti-dep I landed up with my life long dystonia.  That was 6 years ago.  So now I have to manage them, the extreme euphoria and the deep sadness and melancholy.  That's a cool name for a band actually.  If I had a friend called Collie...Mel and Collie.  But I digress.

So this year has been super intense.   January 1st I watched my father die after a torturous long battle.  Massive relief, massive loss and later massive sadness.  It just happened to be on the same day I found out about Natey and they then shared a memorial date of January 5th.   Then it was a really fun weekend away for a triathlon on the West Coast with my trichicks.  In between all this I packed and packed and sorted my life of 16 years as we prepared to move.  I had Two Oceans half marathon and Argus cycle tour and then the wonderful trip to Holland. 

I knew I had to look for a job but with 3 trips and my race in June, the job hunt was put on hold.  Truth be told I was also afraid to get a job.  It has been a long time since I had to write a CV and apply for a job and have an interview.  !7 years in fact.

My trip to Holland with my mom to see my funky crazy aunt and her family was divine.  Holland in Spring time is an absolute treat and the flowers beyond description.  On the day I flew back Natey's brother Benjamin was born.  Perfect and healthy and beautiful.  After I got home I had 3 days to pack up the rest of the house and we moved on the 28th of April.  Stress way beyond my worst nightmare.  Day 1 the mattress catches fire and fortunately the mover saw it and chucked it down the stairs and outside.  No bed, burn holes in the carpet and a blackened wall.  Day 2 the dogs eat leftover rattex.  They get rushed to the vet.  She said they would have been dead in 48 hours and they had to vomit up all the poison. 

Eventually I settle in the house and I love it and I love the area.  I do some last minute training for my Ironman 70.3 in Durban.  I race it unprepared and its insanely hard but I do it for my dad and I do it for Natey and I finish.  Broken but finished.  On a high.

As the high of the race wears off I have my graduation 2 weeks later.  A massive heart racey high and big sense of achievement.   I had wanted to quit so many times over those 6 years.  I had also wanted to give up my cum laude goal but I pushed on and pushed hard.  And then I was there in the cap and gown and they called my name managing to pronounce my surname.   Daniel shouts Go Mom just I shouted the previous year at his: Go Daniel!

I fly 11 days later on our dream holiday and it's yet another high.  The packing and planning and excitement, the break from the cold weather and the planning of our vow renewal which I have wanted to do for many many years now.  Athens was awesome, vibey and dirty and real and interesting and organic.  I don't know why people hate it as it is what it is and we found it really fascinating.  After 2 full days we get to beautiful Skiathos.  Exactly the same as 17 years before.  Our holiday is divine, not having small whiney needy kids is divine.  The girls are fully into this vow renewal.  They want a priest and a photographer and dresses.  I want Gary, my girls and the beach.  I think about my father every day but especially that evening.  We had this big family trip planned for Dec 2018 for the 50th of my sister, the 70th of both parents and then the 50th wedding anniversary.  But then he gets sick and dies and he never gets to turn 69 never mind 70.  So we didn't wait till we were married 20 years, we just booked the trip.  15 years is special enough.  Our little service is perfect as we re promise our lives together now older and wiser and having gone through all the seasons in our marriage.  We are resilient, stubborn and committed and that's what it takes to keep a marriage solid.  I have no doubt we will still go through stormy times but quitting is just not an option.  We like each other, we fit, we make each other laugh.  Opposites in everything, right and left.  This somehow works.  Both girls speak and then we do and Sofia gets all teary and it confirms all that hard work and fight to keep my marriage healthy is worth it.  A gift to my children.  The rest of the holiday is full of sun and books and swims in exquisite turquoise sea.  Greek food and tourists and Mama Mia songs and scenes.

After a long flight home with 3 legs, Daniel collects us and we chat about his next trip.  His ticket which costs R5000.  Surely that's impossible??  No, no. it's a one way remember.  He is going.  He is starting a new life in a different country and I get this massive lump in my throat.  No impromptu visits for free dinner.  No joining the family with Sam on our camping trips, or Christmas or his birthday or mine.  He is really going, forever.  I have always known this but the reality kicks me in my gut.  I am not going to be the granny I always imagined.  I will live across the world and won't be at every single school recital or special event.  I have 3 children and I will have to choose one day where we live.  I want to call my dad as he would get it but I can't.  My youngest is having a tough time.  She won't open up so I can only love her and wait to catch her if she falls.  My middle is 16.  Intense and demanding.  Pushing me away and pulling me close.  Wanting independence yet keeping me at a distance so I am not too far.  Somehow I am in that next phase of parenting and it's hard.  I have no job yet, no studies and no real sense of purpose or achievement.   It's the end of all the crazy highs and reality kicks in.  I am in this rented house in a town that is hard to break into.  I feel really really lonely and isolated. I feel low.

Tuesday, I will crawl back up on Tuesday.  School starts and I will find a job and volunteer so long.  I will continue trying to break into this tight town.  I will carry on training for my marathon.  I need to swim again, it is always my healer, being in the water and breathing and counting my strokes.  I miss my dad.  So much more than I imagined.  I will find my mojo and my direction and a self that is less reliant on the role and purpose of being a mother.  It is time for Mel & Collie to leave the building and UltraMel to step up.  Just not today.  Tuesday.