This vast ocean all around me is the sea I dive down into to reclaim the wreckage of your sinking corpse. I have lived this absence and longing over 30 years and now the one I thought I knew I realise I knew not. I have been searching for you Dad over these long years and you are still so very far from me and yet in the searching I have found myself.
You were there but your true heart was a shadowy presence. The silent longing I could not speak found confusion in the silence and got buried so deeply in my body. Connection only came briefly in two moments where we felt the whisper of mortality pass over our skin, fleeting and ominous as cold shadow this intimation of the ending that would come for me at 23 made my flesh creep. Tears fell as we embraced, the sadness was so deep I felt my heart would burst.
The second time we knew you didn’t have long and after you were gone there was no one to reach out to who might have understood except for Piet and he died too a year before the worst loss happened 19 years after your passing evoking all the buried pain of the earlier losses. Today I cannot help but think on your birthday of how my life these lonely years has been a continuation of your fate lived on, most surely not one you would have chosen. But that is life.
Here in this house surrounded by the precious things I gathered financed by the seeds you have sewn I have been able to grieve, finally without censure. Most especially in the late afternoons now I listen with my heart to my gut as it speaks of the pain of the past, of what is real and true, of how I struggled to connect across a huge void and how my submerged longing for connection hidden behind defences played out in ways that could only drive connection further away.
And I am surprised to find that where a fire burned before there is no anger left, only a mellow sadness. I never really got to know you Dad and some things you did really, really hurt. This is my fate. Struggle as I did with all these feelings I could not help but recreate the past. I know the pain has been necessary on some level to birth the wisdom that reveals itself when what is buried far beneath surrenders to the hurting and breaks open, just as fire cracks open the seed. It has been at times a drowning and at times a burning, a forest fire or a flood that threatened to raze everything to the ground. It has been desperately lonely and sad but this last year I have no longer been alone with it.
Sometimes it has felt entirely too much, at times I feel all is forsaken and I have woken too late but that might not be true. For I am beginning to feel that there is some kind of beautiful serenity and acceptance growing in my heart these past days from these seeds of hurting that are born of desire for love. As I sit silently amidst the encroaching dusk 96 years on from the day you were born I know something is transforming and moving on within the great round of all these cycles we have lived. These seeds that you planted live on in me and take root and perhaps there is much more to birth. In each ending lies the seeds of a new beginning and a fuller heart is the gift that grows out of a shower of tears.
Sad to say I felt I didn’t really have a father so I have had to learn how to grow the father inside. It hasn’t been easy, but when the hurting is done, when the pain subsides I no longer feel so empty and alone, rather I feel full and I feel held. On some level I have come home to my life and to my body and most especially to love. I feel it surrounding me as I look at the nest I have built when I see myself reflected in wee Jasper’s eyes, eyes full of love. And most especially I feel its soft benediction falling on me like a blessing reminding me of the courage and tenacity I have shown in embracing and tending my wounded self. It has been deep work. Work I would not have chosen but which I surrendered to anyway in the end because my pain left me with no other choice.