Exactly one month and one day ago, I saw my dad alive for the final time. I didn’t know then that it would be the final time. That he would take his last breath two days later. He was in good spirits as usual, despite looking frail and being very groggy. The next time I saw him, he was lying peacefully with a beautiful smile on his face, eyes closed in eternal bliss. In life I learnt a lot from him. The man was larger than life after all. I was shocked to find that I am learning even more from him in death. The outpouring of love, support and heart wrenching tributes shared from all the people whose lives he touched have been nothing short of amazing. As a family, we have come to learn of things he was doing for others, of which we had absolutely no clue. I wasn’t particularly close to my dad, no one really was. He wasn’t exactly the touchy feely type of dad, didn’t openly express his feelings – you know, typical African dad. I only told him I loved him once in my entire life – the day he was admitted in
My dad died 13 days ago. That number seems morbidly appropriate right now for some reason. I thought I was ready. Boy was I wrong. You can never be ready. Nothing prepares you for the pain of knowing that you will never see the person you love again. Not even numerous losses prior to the current one. You see I am no stranger to loss. I have lost babies – miscarriages, still births and a devastating tragic loss of a son gone too soon. In the span of one year, I staggered through the loss of my son’s dad and two of my closest friends and colleagues. You could almost say I have mastered the art of grieving if there is such a thing. Almost but not quite. The first time I realized all wasn’t well with my dad was a year ago. He missed work for the first time in five decades. I remember the phone call from my mum with startling clarity. I remember rushing there, wondering what I would find. I remember my relief when she said he was in bed. I remember the way my stomach churned, refusing to accept the possibility that something was seriously
So in my last post I waded into uncharted waters and going by the general silence, I take it my brutal honesty hit a sweet painful spot. Now that I have opened up that can of worms, I might as well bite the bullet and keep going. One of my recent experimental A-ha’s is my new way of dealing with emotions by separating situations from the feelings they create. The basic premise is to deal with the situation or event or whatever has happened in a clinical manner – all feelings aside. Once the situation is dealt with, I then revisit the feelings and deal with those separately. For me this was necessary based on my history of feelings messing up with my head; so this process has worked remarkably well especially over the last one year when I was literally drowning in emotions. I actually stumbled on it by accident during my grief period last year. If you have lost a loved one then you know how the feelings that accompany loss can completely cripple you till you cannot function at all. In my case the loss was accompanied by some horror sideshows (which I cannot talk about here)
During my most recent conflict of conscience, I called a close friend (I have painfully few of those now) to get help picking my brain. I knew what I had to do but I needed to hear it out loud to make sure I had covered all my bases. The crux of my inner conflict was a familiar one. I wanted to leave something that I was part of but I felt like my role was really critical and I didn’t want to deal with the guilt of the thing falling apart once I left. So I knew what I needed to do but I was being held back by my self-imposed sense of self-importance. Mind you, I wasn’t even aware that this was the case. So my friend dutifully listened to my tirade and when I was done she made a single comment. “Ronni, you’re not that special.” In the shattered silence that followed, I felt my entire world spin and shift crazily as I absorbed what she had just said. By the way, if you know me well you will know that there are very few people that would have the balls to speak to me in that
Someone once quipped that things will often get worse before they start to get better. Someone else stated that it’s darkest before dawn. I am no stranger to either of these sayings and my rather dramatic past had always more or less followed similar patterns. It still took me by surprise, for some strange reason, when things went from bad to worse during my little self-discovery rabbit hole. I mean, I was supposed to be figuring shit out, right? Wrong. I was making a fervent attempt alright. But since I had no clue in what direction to go, it was more of random shots in the dark, hoping to find the light in the very dark tunnel. So one of the things I did (very randomly) was to cut off my long beautiful locks. Apparently when a woman cuts off her hair it signals the beginning of great change in her life. Well that was certainly very accurate in my case. That change triggered a number of decisions in my life, some great, most not great at all and some, just outright mistakes. One of the first decisions I made, rather haphazardly I may add, was to quit my job.
They say life begins at 40. I’m not sure who “they” are but I’m slowly starting to realize how right they are. A decade ago I thought that this phrase was all hogwash, after all, my life seemed pretty OK even then. With the typical clarity that hindsight brings, I can now see how naive I was back then. And no doubt, a decade from now I will be even more clued in than I feel at the moment. You see, that’s the interesting thing about life. It teaches you something new every day, month, year, decade…..you get the idea. There’s a catch though. You need to be open minded enough to catch the lesson lest you completely miss the plot. Which might just explain why some people appear to have never outgrown a certain (read adolescent) stage in their lives. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is a trend to how we behave in life. Typically, most people tend to have a relatively carefree existence through their teens and into their early twenties. This may or may not apply to you, but in my case I basically lived my life without apologies