Grief is a beast, I was going to call it that but will return to what it is, an emotion. Grief is an emotion that appears to always have a surprise up its sleeve. Right now I feel as though I have been hit by that wave that catches you at the beach when you are looking in the wrong direction, hitting you from behind, toppling you over, tumbling you around, sending salt water up your nose and down your mouth, before depositing you in the shallows.
My dad passed away a year ago. Yesterday my wife and I arrived back in the UK to visit mum, to spend a couple of weeks with her. My sister and her husband will arrive here from New Zealand in two days time. Mum and Dad lost their kids to the other side of the world. I’ve often wondered what effect our decision to move away had on them? I know for myself that I have felt the push/pull of feeling good about my decision to move, while at times deeply missing home. The British Isles for me is where a deeper sense of home is, even if other places also have their own claim to that title.
I write this at dawn, jet lag seeing me up and about early making coffee and toast. I walk around mum’s apartment in the silence of early morning, peering out of windows over Bristol, the city where I grew up. In the early morning shadows, lights turned off, I find images and emotions of last year’s visit here, a time spent with dad as he navigated the last two weeks of his life. Then the further weeks that I stayed on to help mum and also to navigate my own immediate experiences of grief. It was a special, important time for me, being alone here with mum and my grief and emotions, having time and space. Yesterday, memories of last year brought on by my return struck me more so and unexpectedly.
Grief’s presence has never left me, at times apparently going silent, at times giving me a heightened sense of our collective mortality, and at times hitting me with a profound sense of loss, that Dad is no longer physically in my life and memories of my time with him.
This morning’s quiet walk around the house was like being hit by that unexpected wave. I was looking the other way, walking to the kitchen to make coffee and toast, when the silence and shadows of pre-dawn brought fourth the memories and emotions. Like the wave that leaves you in the shallows, disorientated and trying to regain your balance while taking in what just happened, this morning’s wave gives me another, deeper level of grief to breathe into. Grief is no longer the stranger it was to me a year ago. Even though I need sometime now to be with, process and reorientate myself following the wack of this wave, I know that it too shall pass…no, it too shall be integrated, be made a part of me - even if that is difficult to believe in this moment.
I think as well that this grief is showing me my connection to and grief for the deeper place that I call home. My life and family is many miles away from here, but a deeper connection to the British Isles is also present within me and what I must spend some time exploring. There is grief present for what I can no longer be in and around on a day to day basis.
In this moment I am grateful for recognising these emotions within me. They are disorientating and I might want to spend more quiet time with myself than commitments allow right now, but in their presence they give me a greater sense of myself in time and place.