This day last year. This day last year. It was like walking through grey treacle. We had been back from Hobart for a few days. I had said goodbye to my dad for the last time the day before we departed. Hobart had given my brain some relief, but back at the boat, doing the kindergarten drop-offs – I was an automaton. Desperate. Worried. And unknowing. I had dreamt about my dad the night before. The oddest dream – a transitory one in shades of charcoal. Not really a sad dream, but one I won’t forget.
The wait that happens when you’re going to lose someone, lose someone soon – it’s unbearable and yet it must be borne. The knowing didn’t make it easier when I got the telephone call from my uncle. I had not been able to look at the night sky without being engulfed by sadness for two and a half years – and that evening, after that phone call I had been dreading, dreading, I stumbled down the long driveway in the dark, sobbing and disbelieving, even though I knew.
I laid on the ground under some bushes and cried at the sky, blurred with despair. I stayed there for a long time. I didn’t want to go back to the boat, I wanted to walk and walk until I fell off the edge of the earth, down through the stars past the moon. That was the desperate and poetic self. The actual real version of me eventually dragged herself back up the driveway to the boat, to three of the most important people in my life, who cared for me.
I couldn’t talk. Couldn’t eat. Had nothing to say. It was one of the longest nights of my life. In the morning I didn’t get up. I started to knit. Because I needed to something, because I know it’s therapeutic. I knitted and did not stop. I made a chain of multi-coloured hearts, and when it was finished, I could talk a little bit again.
I have carried that chain of hearts around on the backpack that goes with me everywhere for a year – people have complimented me on them – but I never explained them, never said; “These are part of my process. These hearts hold love and despair in equal measure. I can’t let them go.”
Today I went with my mum to Loch to have lunch and cups of tea in memory of my dad – it was a place we had been with him a few times. It’s very lovely.
I tried to explain to my mum that I still don’t feel as if he is gone, I feel that he is here – lodged in my heart, woven around my brain. The times when the loss grips me is when I have to attend to my Humber – he looked after my car so beautifully that I can hardly bear to sit in it, while I love it as well.
I was lucky to be able to go with my mum today and amble around together where we used to live for a few years when I was about eight-years-old. And where M and I lived for a year when we first got together. Back then the only cafe served cappuccinos in a teapot.
Mum and I went into a shop full of Nepalese handicrafts. Beautiful felty things. I bought a ball of silk spun from the offcuts from saris. It looks very similar to this…
I am going to make a new string of hearts, ones that will be infused with more love, loss, longing and sunshine, rather than soaking despair. To think it has been a year. Incomprehensible. It feels more like four or five months. Grief and loss seem to be like dog years – but different for each person. For me, one year actually equals five months.
I have made some blue hearts to replace the ones on my bag. They are smaller. They are lighter. They represent five months in loss-time, and one year flicking by in the world of calendars. There are nine hearts – my birth number and his birth number. They will travel with me while I begin on the new silk ones.
Dad. I miss you.