And on this bed there lyeth a knight
His wound is bleeding day and night
By his bedside kneeleth a maid
And she weepeth both night and day
- Jeff Buckley
The loss of a parent is forever life-altering, no matter how you look at it. It dawned on me only yesterday that a good half year into the death of my father, I continue to blatantly refuse dealing with it. I know the time is fast approaching when I will need to grieve and sort through so many of the feelings that I've silently buried and locked away within me. Before today, I had never tried to make sense of the experience of losing my father, because in my mind the death of someone you love cannot be understood; only borne. But there is nothing I can do to cope, I can only exist, just plod along and wait it through. I miss him more than life is worth. I resent everyone with a dad and hate myself for doing it. I have learned so much, and regretted so much. I have reflected and pondered and am still at a loss. How does one even begin to talk or make sense of something so devastating?
On July 31, 2006, at an estimated 11:20 AM, only days before my graduation, my father didn't lose his life. He completed it. And as I knelt before his grave today, I did my own crying; not so much for his absence but for what could've been. I can still feel the vast empty expanse of the loss as fresh today as it was then. Only now, where there used to be pain, there is a scar - dried up and permanent. He was so central to my existence, yet, even now I still fear the thought of forgetting his face. Still learning that another month forward is another month without him, and that future events can only be made more difficult by his unfortunate absence.
In the weeks preceding my Dad's passing, I hadn't been home to visit much and six months ago yesterday; I got the call from my sister. My senior and I had just been wrapping up rounds at the male Endocrinology ward, preparing to take a much-needed break and rush on home as we'd both had a pretty rough on-call the previous day. I didn't think anything of it until I heard her speak. Her voice was broken and distraught. She said, "Baba" and then cried my name in a way I'd never heard before. I could tell she was crying for my pain. I knew. But even then I didn't quite know. There was still a split second trying to process what she meant. But 'process' is too methodical, it was more like a moment of desperate tugging and tearing at the words to see if I could find any way out. Any way free.
I froze, shocked by the news for a few minutes, just trying to mobilize into decision-making. Minutes later I called my Mom, her voice quaked as she spoke and that's when it slowly sunk in. That was the first moment I felt grief and sadness more than shock. My chest tightened and I felt my legs losing strength so I sat down at a desk in the doctor's lounge and put my head in my hands. Then I slowly got up to look out the window at the back of the hospital. I stared blankly in a daze of loss at the ocean as I spoke to my senior. I told him matter-of-factly because I couldn't think of any other way to say it. He walked me out and drove me 150 kms to where Dad lay.
Throughout the ride home I was unbelievably calm and was surprised I still knew what time of day it was after just having lost my best friend. The world was still functioning, the grass still growing, and the sky still blue as ever... everything was exactly the same. But it wasn't. An hour and a half after first receiving the news, I walked into a house that was vacant of my Dad's presence. He would usually come to meet me on the sidewalk, watching for me. This time he did not. Those first few minutes were crushing.
Where do you go when the only place you know you can go is gone? I stood there for quite a while. I didn't cry, in fact to this day I haven't found any tears for him. I just closed my eyes against that miserable scene and remembered his face and the warmth of his hands and the many hugs and kisses and smiles and words that told me so unequivocally and throughout my whole life, that I was loved.
I found the loss of my father very numbing. I had no emotion. I didn't talk, I just stared and comforted my Mom and siblings. I told them to be strong and that everything was going to be fine. I didn't know that. I just said it. It was more important for me at the time to make sure they were alright than to express any emotion myself. We react very strangely when a death occurs, this was my first and I was awestruck by the way I was acting.
They say the pain eases with time. No, it never does. The more time that lapses is the longer I haven't seen him and the more I miss him.