17th of every month
The day that always jogs everything.
The 17th will always be a day burnt into my mind and being, as it is for my Mum and Sisters. Sure, the 17th June but also the 17th in pretty much every month after that as well. Well, I don't want to speak for anyone else but at least for me, the 17th is the day that creeps up on you every month, before you know it you're there and you're thrust into a pool of memories, thoughts, feelings and reflections you didn't exactly choose to think about. It's a weird one, it always will be and another, weird figment of grief.
And it's weird because you're going through thoughts like:
I've lived 7 months without my Dad.
I've lived 7 17th's without him.
That's over 6 months.
It's closer to a year without him than with him.
How can I have lived so long without him.
Yet, I'm still here.
You reflect on what you were doing 7 months ago today. Working out, showering, eating, working for your blog. All the normal stuff you did every day without a second thought. Then your heart starts beating faster and you become a bit breathless because you remember the next part of the story is you picking up your Mum's phone call for the next and most unexpected chapter of your life. You take a deep breath as you write these words in this blog draft and it shocks you every time you have this reaction because you never used to feel your anxiety physically. You never knew what it actually meant to feel breathless or have tight chest or start shaking when you remember rushing out of London and back home to see your Dad, as you physically knew him, for the last time. And you tear up as you write these words, your eyes and nose tingle as the tears start to come. But you take another deep breath, clear your eyes and put your glasses back on to continue typing. And you appreciate yourself and your growth because you remember yourself telling Jessica the same story a couple months earlier at uni about how it happened. Because when you talked her through it you got cold sweats, a racing heart beat, short breaths and endless tears, but she held you until it was okay again. And how far you have come. But how okay it is to still have that reaction. That it doesn't value your grief and experience either way.
And then you think about where you are today.
You've just made and had a fantastic brunch with your family, your Dad's photo at the helm of the table.
Not a meal goes by without him there, without mentions of his habits, memories. But the gaps where we'd anticipate him to say something are now fewer and far between. We're relearning how to patch up the void in some way. (Sometimes that's not a possibility and you do just cry looking at his photo sitting opposite you because a photo is just not good enough. But again, as they always will, the Matriarchs around you, Mum, Sita and Mara hold you and wrap you up and sound out your pain. 20 minutes later, you're laughing at the Indian song Tumse Milke Dilka Jo Haal from Main Hoon Na that you used to love when you were 6 but have realised 14 years later how ridiculous it was.) And then you come upstairs and out of no where write this blog post which, as it always is when you talk about your grief, - a huge weight off.
The 17th isn't always sad, or hard or upsetting. It's a patchwork of feelings. Still now, when you see the album 'Dad funeral' on your photos on your phone or hear his voice in a video - it completely takes your breath away. But now, I can reflect on 7 months and appreciate myself and my family. I'm finding more happiness and less guilt that comes with it. I can say that for the first time in, not even 7 months but this probably extends to a year, that I am content in who, what and where I am in my life and also where I'm headed. I have so much to be grateful for that it makes hyperbole redundant.
I don't think the scope of a beings emotions should ever be underestimated. It is unbelievable the things I have felt and feel every day, how quickly they change, how long they can last, how predictable they can be or never are. It's astounding really and hard to express - ironically, it leaves you expressionless sometimes.
I don't think the scope of a beings emotions should ever be underestimated. The first photo is 13 days after my Dad passed away and the second is 138 days after.
I am grieving, I don't think that ever stops. But I am happy. I am excited. I am loved and I am extremely grateful. Grief just isn't the only thing that defines me or my life or my story anymore. It's falling into place as a part of a whole.