But I can’t let today go by without writing about the anniversary of my Dad’s death. 11 years ago today, he was only 56. 11 years is a long time though and it’s a long time to heal. But anniversaries are shit in the sense that they are very specific. They force you to remember the events of a certain day in time. If it’s a wedding, great, lots of good memories. If it’s a death or tragedy than an anniversary is pure shit.
My poor Mum had to call both my Bro and I to tell us the news 11 years ago today. How she did that I’ll never know. I was sitting at my desk at Channel Ten. I very clearly remember that absolute complete loss of control when Mum first called. Its emotional, its physical, it’s everything. It just breaks you in two. You just loose all control of yourself in every sense. After that your head and heart are not in the same place together again for some time to come.
I know my workmates got me home that day and my friends got me on a plane. I know mum and Cousin Trude met me at the airport. I know all our family was together. I remember things more as ‘situations’ after that. Mum, Bro and I with the funeral director, my amazing family. Sonia and Alana making tea and sandwiches all weekend, sitting in Cass’s spare room to write the eulogy. Massive breakdown getting out of the car at the funeral, giving the eulogy but not what I said. At the wake I fell in a heap, my body packed it in, and I curled up in my childhood bedroom.
See this is the sort of stuff that anniversaries make you remember. Cause it’s all about a date and what happened on that day. It’s tough on the anniversary of a tragedy in your life to remember the healing, the progress, and the good memories which over time you’ve come to do for the other 355 days a year. I resent that the anniversary drags me back to that dark place and makes me forget everything else.
There is absolutely nothing you can do to prepare for the sudden loss of a parent. In hindsight it took me much longer to get my life back on track than I thought at the time. And I think the sooner you accept you will never be the same again the easier it becomes. I also learnt how to accept that there are times that you are gonna be emotional, angry or really sad and that there is nothing you can do about it. My advice to anyone who loses someone now is ‘just take care of yourself, do what you need to do’.
But I’m not gonna dwell on that tough time or on the life I shared with my Dad. That’s probably a little too personal, even for me. Instead…
I think I share a very special bond with Dad in death. I’m not sure when it started but I’m pretty sure it was not long after that initial trauma. There are times when I know that Dad is with me. I can sense him with me. It’s always fleeting but he just pops up every now and then, sometimes stronger than others, but always in a good way. He has a presence and I feel him with me at the most random times you can imagine. I love that he checks in. I shared this with Aschapelle and over the years it was great to have him there with me when I could say “Dad’s here”.
Now I’m not Christian and I could hardly be described as spiritual but I believe in this. I was concerned in the early years cause you don’t want your parents seeing everything you do – especially 2004 - but I also believe there is no judgement. He’s just there with me.
I’ve also learnt to call on him for support. Whenever I’m going through a tough time, am really stressed or have a high-pressured situation to get through I call on him to support me through it, to prop me up. And if it’s a really big problem for me I call on my Aunty Bub as well. I’m very lucky cause I have two guardian angels. And considering the luck I’ve had in my life despite my own stupidity and foolishness they are obviously the two best guardian angels ever!
The other bond with Dad ‘in death’ is seeing more of him in me. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on this, but the older you get the more you realise and understand how much you are like your parents. I’ve always been a Mummy’s boy and take after her a lot. Since we lost Dad I’ve come to understand the similarities between us a lot more, especially in the last few years. There is more of Dad in me than I ever thought. Some of it good, some of it bad, a lot to learn from. It’s very comforting to feel that part of your father lives on in you. It will make me a better person.
So yes, it’s a sad day. But I’m determined not to get lost in thinking about the details of this date, the sense of loss or the life not lived. It’s taken a long time but I can draw strength from the bond that Dad and I have now. It’s so different to before, and I don’t really expect anyone to understand, but it’s a bond I treasure.
It doesn’t matter how many years have passed since we lost him, I will always be my father's son.
Love you Dad. Xoxoxo