“Grief seems at first to destroy not just all patterns, but also to destroy a belief that a pattern exists.”Julian Barnes
My father died just over three months ago and my mother has been dead for almost nine years. I continue to function, do whatever it is I’m supposed to do. I’m a planner so I make lists upon lists upon further lists, then I go about getting whatever tasks need getting done, done. Stuffing more into my life has always been my sure-fire way of coping. I convince myself to keep moving.
This week I had to be in Vancouver for a few appointments. We spent two nights in a hotel because snow was expected and I didn’t want to chance the highway. It’ll be a bit of a break, I thought. A mini holiday of sorts after a tough year.
I remembered the last time I was in Vancouver with my dad. February 2019, we were in Vancouver in a hotel suite. Different time, different hotel.
My father wanted to rest. My husband and I went for a walk. When we came back, Dad was gone.
I panicked, made a fuss with the front desk and suggested we call the police. After what seemed like an eternity, we found Dad in the stairwell. He’d come down seven flights of stairs looking for me. He’d forgotten I’d gone for a walk.
As I lay in bed, trying to sleep in the hotel room this week, fresh tears came. I replayed the incident over and over again. As you can imagine, no sleep came.
A year ago, after my father’s disappearance act, as I called it, we went to a Greek restaurant for dinner. I couldn’t stop talking about how much he’d freaked me out. He laughed and said he was going to tell my siblings how I lost him on the first night he spent with us. He hummed to the music playing in the background and ate his moussaka, happy as always with his favourite dish.
This year, after my appointments, my husband and I braved the snow and cold and went to a Greek restaurant. Not the same Greek restaurant as the one we’d gone to with Dad a year ago.
Still, the Greek music my father so loved filled the place. I thought, Dad would have hummed along or sang. Mom would have told him to keep his voice down, people were staring. He would have smiled and said, let them stare. She would have said, you’re no Dean Martin. They would have shared a chuckle.
I hear their chatter, see them sitting close to each other holding hands, and feel the warmth of their smiles for each other and for their children. These imagines and others like them bring tears, overpowering and uncontrollable. There is no pattern to how and when they will come. I just know they will.
So I simply settle into whatever it is I’m feeling. I tell myself, this is part of the grieving process. There are no patterns, just the knowledge that I will miss Mom and Dad for the rest of my life. There is no amount of time that will pass that will make their loss any easier. That is the only thing I’m sure of.
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