It feels just like that for me - in that very tricky early phase of grief for my lovely Dad who died last week. He had been ill for a while and I made the mistake of kidding myself that, deep down, I had prepared myself.
But it turns out I had not.
I lost my mother when I was just 17 so it feels especially huge to lose Dad too. I keep looking at a chair and thinking of him sitting in it. Or looking at the front door and realising that I am never again going to open it to him.
It’s difficult as a writer as, on the one hand, you want so desperately to write about it…and on the other you
don’t. Not at all.
I guess I have finally sat down to face the blank screen because of that opening line. It didn't feel like the right time yesterday; it doesn't today and it won't tomorrow or next week. So it may as well be today.
I need also to say a big thank you to those who have helped my family this past week or so and from here to promise to take things very slowly. One day at a time – just as we did when we lost my mother all those years ago.
In fact I was reminded of how this all goes by a little moment in the garden just the day before Dad’s funeral. I was in the midst of the mundane task of hanging out washing when I noticed the most beautiful sight across the lawn. An array of wallflowers in the corner was suddenly covered in butterflies – a mixture of Red Admirals and Cabbage Whites. I have planted our little walled garden to deliberately attract butterflies so this should be no surprise. We are often blessed with their visits but I have genuinely never seen this many in one place before. Dozens and dozens. Wings all a-flutter in the sunshine. Just stunning. So overwhelmed was I by the spectacle that I forgot everything else and rushed to call my son to come and see. And then after he had gone upstairs, I felt it on my face.
A really, broad smile.
And I realised it was the first proper, full-on smile since I sat with my father in the hospice. For just a second then, I felt guilty. And I remembered that it was just the same when I lost mum. Strange moments of guilt when you take pleasure in things as you adjust to the loss. And so I made myself a cup of strong coffee and I took a very deep breath. For yes – this is how it goes. Sometimes overwhelmingly sad. Sometimes not. It is good and natural and all of those we have loved and lost would want it so.
Dad would be pleased to see us smiling at butterflies.