Today marks 4 weeks since the death of my dad. I haven't yet made it through a full day without the waves of emotions that rise, seemingly from nowhere, bringing me to tears.
I am a good crier. Ask my older brothers and they will tell you that I had this skill nailed from an early age. Crying doesn't embarrass me - well, not currently. I do however, put out thoughts to dad - not quite an apology but a recognition that I know he will not want me or any of the family to be too sad for too long. Today I cannot imagine a day where I won't feel 'too sad' despite my desire not to disappoint dad.
I had 16 months to 'prepare' for dad's passing and over that time and since his transition I have learnt a number of things.
I now know that there is no such thing as 'being prepared'. Ironically we know that everyone will die - the argument that knowing in advance will somehow lessen the grief doesn't really work for anyone or we'd all be prepared for it. If anything, it starts the ball rolling of pre-grief or anticipatory grief as it's more formally known. The knowledge that death is around the corner however, does bring with it opportunity. The opportunity to leave nothing unsaid, to appreciate every bittersweet moment of joy of 'the lasts', to let the noise of the rest of the world quieten and to truly be in the moment. Tim McGraw sang it best 'someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying'. And boy did my dad show us how to do that. He didn't go riding Fumanchu or go skydiving (you have to know the song) but he took in every moment, treasured every piece of nature around him, and delighted in the loving banter of family and friends around him when both his body and words failed him. If there is a gold standard for facing death - dad didn't just meet it, he set it.
I've learnt 'a good innings' means little to those left behind as a phrase so often used to bring comfort to the bereaved. A beautiful young woman who lost her darling dad listened to me apologising for the fact that I was grief stricken about losing my dad who had lived well past the age of her own father. She gently suggested that I had 20+ more years of memories and love to grieve for.
I understand that grief is not a competition. I know those who are bereft to their core about losing treasured pets. I know many who grieve for the loving relationships that 'should have been'. Grief is intensely personal and no-one can truly say 'they know' the grief of another. Is there any point comparing the loss of mum, dad, sibling, friend, son or daughter? Did/do I love my dad more than you loved/love yours? What's the prize for the winner of that sort of competition? More grief? Yay. There are no winners here.
I know that all the knowledge/faith/belief and evidence of the Spirit world and eternal life whilst bringing solace doesn't stop the very real pain of loss. The awareness that no new memories will be made together in this physical world of ours hurts.
The knowledge of the Spirit world brings its healing in other ways. I know Dad still hears my thoughts and I even warned him, when he encouraged me in our pre transition discussions to keep talking to him, that he would be more haunted by my thoughts than the other way around. (Don't get caught up on the use of 'haunted' - it was a joke with my dad). And while I grieve for the future happy memories that Dad won't physically attend I know, I KNOW, at some yet to be disclosed time, I will run to him with unbridled elation and even as I type this I can envisage the smile that will be on his face at my arrival.
For now though, I know that any perception or sense of him I experience will be diluted, to a degree, by a solid skeptical mind second guessing my own wants and needs. I imagine it must be bemusing for him to realise from the other side of the veil that having a daughter as a medium doesn't equate to a direct telephone line. Instead I, like any other, know the exquisite agony of the desire to receive evidential communication from my dad through another medium who will truly represent him - for his sake and for mine.
And so, as the medium grieves, she is reminded of the weight of responsibility all mediums carry.