I’ll always remember my father. He passed away when I was only four years old. The memory is very vague, but it’s there, set in stone in my memory. I don’t remember much but I remember that day.
My brother and I returned home that day to find my mother distraught on the sofa. Tearful, eyes red puffy from crying. She told us to sit down. The words out her mouth that day will stick in my mind forever more. ‘Your father has died’. My brother became hysterical with tears and hugged my mother, I sat there in silence unable to take in the words. I guess I may not have understand fully at that point.
My mother tells me that shortly after my brother gathered up my dads fishing rods and took them to his bed where he lay burdened by his grief. Mum tried to embrace me but I was just still and impertuable.
After that my memory goes blank, I don’t remember the days that followed.
When I was eleven however I started asking question suddenly then I wanted to know all about my father and why he had died. He had heart disease. He was awaiting a transplant but this last heart attack took his life. A few months after his death a letter came in the post saying a transplant was available. Heart breaking. I can’t imagine what my mother must have been feeling at this point. Two young children to care for, the love of her life dead.
After I had asked all the questions I wanted I became distraught with grief, there was anger too. Why did he leave us, why him, why did it happen to us. I was just a mess. I would remember the day he died again and again. The tears would not stop but continue coming. I couldn’t make them stop, some time passed but after 7 years of not shedding a tear, they suddenly decided to come.
That’s when counselling began. I started to struggle at school and lose weight. Eventually I was being being treated for PTSD. I was experiencing a delayed grieving process and was reliving it again and again. It didn’t get any better though and eventually they put me on fluoxetine a few years later after still suffering low mood and anxiety. I recall being 13 when they medicated me. Why couldn’t I have just been strong? There was other contributing factors to my pain, I had an abusive stepfather who had been in my life for 7 years and that only intensified my grief and my hurt. Life was tough, especially for a young teen.
Looking back is hard, they say to close the door on your past, I can’t seem to close that door. At one stage I thought I could. I got a tattoo of the word father in Scottish Gaelic on my wrist with a butterfly. Butterfly tattoos signify a new life after a period of rough times. To me that was moving on with my life. Without my father and finally the abusive stepfather out of my life. I got it when I was 21, 10 years after we broke away from his abusive hold. Mum had remaried and we had a chance to start again.
I wear my heart on my sleeve and that tattoo will forever remind me that he worst of my childhood was over.
I miss my father everyday, if only he was still here things for us all would have been so different.