Since we returned to Manchester just over a week ago, I’ve been running pretty much on automatic. Then, of course, the focus was getting my essay written. That, I did on the Sunday after we got back, and although I would’ve handed it in on the Monday, the college printers were down and in the event, i didn’t get it in till Thursday. Still, I’ve been running on automatic. focusing on getting through the days, rediscovering the joy of learning and reading.

The rest of this entry is pretty emotional. If you’re going through a hard time, you may not want to read it. For that reason, I’m sticking it behind a cut.

On friday I had a meltdown. Triggered by a ferocious argument with Michiel, over nothing in particular, i sat down on our bed and burst into tears. Not ladylike tears trickling down the cheek, where you feel better afterwards. Big, gobbing, sobbing tears that leave you breathless and a right mess. the kind where your nose runs, and you feel like – scuse the language – shit, afterwards. And I did. feel awful afterwards, that is. physically awful – my sinuses were shot to hell, and I was emotionally subdued for the rest of the night, despite a friend coming round and me cooking dinner for him…

Truth be told, I’ve been subdued ever since. The tears have felt close, yesterday I tried to concentrate on getting my research done for the Old Kingdom Egypt Essay that is due in on Thurs 3rd Jan. I got quite a lot done, but by 7pm my brain was protesting, i was tired (and cold, which is always a sign I’m tired), and when Michiel suggested I stop for the night, I saw the sense in it and packed the books away.

But this morning the tears are close again. I don’t know why. Maybe now I’m emerging from the shock of it all and the full impact of the grief is hitting. I can see now that for the first two weeks, when I was staying with Mum, that we were both very much holding it all together, for each other, I think. Mum has said words to the same effect, that she’s cried more since we left than when we were together. The shock too, has numbed things a lot, apart from the occasional breakthrough. And of course in the last week, I’ve been ruthlessly suppressing stuff in order to get that essay done. I’ve still got another one hanging over me and I’m not sure i can ruthlessly suppress any more. I may need to ask for some extra time for it. I’d rather not, as it just delays me even more, but i will if necessary.

He died three weeks ago, exactly. I don’t know exactly what time, but I know it was round about now. I miss my Daddy more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dad with all my heart, but, I mean, when we were apart, we rarely talked. He didn’t do the whole computer thing, he was a peck-pecker, so it was Mum i talked to, and she relayed stuff, with the occasional jokey message from him. I think the last message from him was to do with him demolishing the kitchen. Mum was typing to me, describing what he was doing, saying that he was having so much fun and i said something along the lines of “of course he is, its sanctioned destruction! what better fun is there?” and when she read it out to Dad he chirpily agreed that I was absolutely right. It should be easy, here, at home, to sort of, almost, but not quite, pretend that he’s still there but i just don’t talk to him. and I thought that’s how it would be when I returned to Manchester, that it felt like he was still around, just not somewhere where i could reach him or talk to him.

But its not. And it affects me far more deeply than I ever anticipated.

I know there are different stages to grief. And although this isn’t my first brush with death – Grandpa died in 2003 – that was completely different. Grandpa was 92, he had an accident and lingered on for months after his accident, so when he went, it was a blessing, a relief, in a sense. Yes, I cried for him, I grieved for him, but not in the same way. There was little sense of a life left uncomplete. I was prepared, in a sense, for his death, and I was also somewhat removed. You expect to lose your grandparents at some point, especially when they get to be the age he was.

Dad was different. He wasn’t visibly ill. He’d so much to look forward to – he’d had just 18 months of a much longed for retirement, and just 6 months of living in his dream home. He was thoroughly enjoying sorting out the new house, enjoying Suzie, the dog. There was so much left undone. There are books, whole sets of books, that he’d bought, wrapped in plastic, and unopened. a bottle of whisky, a GOOD bottle, also unopened, which i think he was saving for something nice. His christmas present from me, a book on engineering lathes and how to get the best out of them, lay on the coffee table… untouched. Mum told me he’d had a brief look through and said that he thought it was a good one, but he’d just not had time to really read it. And that’s where so much of the pain lies, i think, that sense that… it wasn’t his time. He should NOT have gone.

Its not fair.

And, too, there’s something else. A certain… innocence has been taken from me. The emotional knowledge that death is something that can step in at any moment and snatch someone you love from you without any warning. There’s a sense of my world being uncertain, unstable. Yes, you intellectually know that there’s the possibility that a bus can run you, or someone else, over any moment, but until it happens to you, its … removed. And quite apart from the actual fact of my father’s death, the manner of his death means that that stability has gone. I have to forge a new path in a world that not only is without my father, but without that safety net. And while it was a false safety net, its one you don’t know the preciousness of until you lose it. And it does not necessarily accompany death: it didn’t accompany Grandpa’s death, because Grandpa’s death was expected.

It makes me, in a sense, more appreciative of those I’ve probably taken for granted. Certainly more aware, I think, of cherishing every moment you spend with those you love, as you don’t know when they’ll be taken from you. Leaving Mum was very hard, for multiple reasons, but also because the last time before that I said goodbye to them, was Christmas, and I never saw Dad alive again.

I’m quite sure there will be more tears to come. But having written this, having had a good cry, I think I’m past the worst of it for now. Maybe now i can dry my tears, blow my nose, clean my glasses, have some coffee. Focus on this essay. It needs doing, and too much introspection, morbidity, isn’t healthy either. But I think I’m beginning to understand now, just how long its going to take to get through this, if i ever do.. to get used to a world without my father in it is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life… but also one in which I have no choice.

He’s dead, gone. And as the prayer partly says that was read out at his funeral:

When I am dead, Cry for me a little. Think of me sometimes …. But not too much.