“The trees are so much taller
And I feel so much smaller
The moon is twice as lonely
And the stars are half as bright”
Papa Can You Hear Me?, Barbra Streisand
If I’m ever travelling anywhere, you’ll certainly hear me coming. For I will most likely be dragging a rickety wheelie case behind me with 3 1/2 wheels. And let me tell you, it doesn’t sound pretty. It’s loud, it slides all over the place and basically has a mind of it’s own.
I should probably throw it away. But here’s the catch. I just can’t.
Dad bought it for me.
My Dad passed away two years ago and saying I’m having trouble letting go is probably fair.
But then, “letting go” isn’t a phrase I particularly like. To me, it implies an abandonment, a sudden release and that reminds me of Jack and Rose in Titanic…(“I’ll never let go,” says Rose – then promptly lets him go. Dammit, Winslet!! There was enough room on that floating door! You could’ve tried a bit harder!!)
But back to my wheelie case. It may sound corny, but to me, it has almost become a symbol for my heart. It’s always full but it is also damaged and in need of some good TLC. But while it is battered, it still functions and it’s bursting full of memories.
Needless to say, I’m very sentimental and ridiculously attached to ‘stuff’.
I still can’t bring myself to get rid of his clothes. Every time I open his cupboards (and he even had a wardrobe of jazzy dance wear and battle re-enactment clothes, that’s how much of a cool dude he was!) I can’t bear the thought of anyone else having them. I haven’t even wanted to scatter his ashes. I have become selfish with grief. Anything he touched or wrote, I want to hold in my heart. But like my little battered case, there’s just not enough room for it all.
So I’m trying to find new ways to cope. And I have found an elegant solution. My Dad was a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist so he always had fantastic pearls of wisdom to share. When I was at my lowest ebb, crying and panicking approximately every 3 minutes, we would go for a walk by the beach. He would get me to identify 3 things that I could hear, see and smell.
And we always prioritised nature. I would tune in and focus. Soon I’d hear the seagulls squawking overhead, see the waves crashing against the shore and smell the salt in the air. And sure enough, I was OK. I could find some calm and sanity.
So that’s what I do. Everyday I actively seek out nature. And I live in London – but it helps me find solace in this crazy, concrete jungle. I cross a bridge everyday and I seek out the cooing pigeons and the moorhens bobbing in the river. There is even a large heron (it’s going to be an extra good day if you see the heron!). It genuinely helps and every time the sun peeks through the clouds or a feather floats past, to me that’s Dad letting me know he’s watching.
Some days I still get overcome with emotion. The fact that Dad won’t be there to walk me down the aisle breaks my heart. Or if I ever have kids, he’ll never get to hold them in his arms, watch them grow, teach them kung fu or his amazing magic tricks.
But I know he’s still here. I still speak to him everyday (yes, out loud in my kitchen like a crazy person) and I can still hear his voice.
For the days when I’m REALLY bad I sing the entire Blood Brothers soundtrack (we saw it about 5 times together) and Papa Can You Hear Me? by Barbra Streisand. It’s not pretty. There’s buckets of tissues and snot and my neighbours probably either hate me or think a cat is slowly being tortured with a sandwich toaster. But it’s also cathartic.
So to anyone who has ever lost anyone special, or even just feels overwhelmed by life, have that cup of tea. Chat to your friends and allow yourself to cry. Sing loudly (and badly) at the top of your voice. It really helps. But trust me on the nature thing. It forces you to take note of all the good things around you and soon enough you’ll be able to put one foot in front of the other again.
In the meantime, listen out for the rumble on the pavement. It might just be me and my little wheelie case rattling by.
Love and stuff,
Ps. I love you Dad. You’ll always be my King Of Kings, Lord Of Lords. My hero. xxx