I woke up last Wednesday morning around 7:30am to the sound of my sister’s dogs barking. I was staying at my sister’s house in the North of England and had been for a week. Every morning her dogs were up and about by 7:30. They were awake…asking to be fed and wanting to go for their morning walk. Wednesday was no different for them.
Wednesday was different for me. Wednesday morning I woke up knowing my father passed away the night before. I was there with my sisters when he left us…holding his hand and their hands. Wednesday morning was different for me.
I had no idea how I was going to feel…I didn’t really know how I felt. I knew the dogs were barking so it was morning. I knew I needed a coffee. I knew my wife was with me. I knew that someone would be downstairs. I knew I wanted to hug my wife. I knew she was still asleep. I hugged her anyway and held her hand.
I looked at my phone – some habits never change – and read the overnight messages from my children. Calling them the evening before to let them know the news was so hard. I felt better as I read their words…and at the same time more upset…their words to me, about their Granddad, about themselves and about us.
I looked at my email as well. Not to see what was happening…but because I had received so many messages of support from friends and colleagues…reading them just made me feel better.
I thought about my dad. In my father I could recognize who I am and where I have come from. I am so like my father was but I am so different. I have had such different experiences at such a different time. My father was a child during and after the Second World War. I wasn’t. I was brought up by him and my mum – he wasn’t. He loved me. He gave me my work ethic. He gave me my love of family. I loved him. He was important to me.
I thought about my own children. I want to be important to my children. Today and tomorrow…next week and next year….I want to be there for them. To encourage them when they need encouragement; to offer advice if they need advice. To hold their hand when they need a hand to hold. As they grow. As they experience. As they express themselves. As they make their own choices. I want to be part of their lives as my father was part of mine…of theirs…of ours.
I thought about the future. Tomorrow is nearly here. Next week is about to start. Looking back, remembering and reminiscing, celebrating and missing, is so important. But so is looking forward and anticipating everything we are going to do together. I don’t know what the future will hold. But I know the future will be different. We will create our own future together.
I thought about the night before. Vivid memories. Raw even. How peaceful it was at the end. How caring everyone was. How we all knew what was happening but didn’t say anything. Didn’t need to say anything. How we moved closer to my dad. Took his hands and held on. For him and for each other.
The dogs were still barking. I still needed caffeine. My wife wanted her hand back and needed some tea. I kissed her and told her I love her. I texted my children and told them I love them. I went downstairs. It was a new day. The next day.
A lonelier day.