Grief, my journey.

‘It will hit you in waves’, people told me from the beginning. Grief is like a wave and you just learn to ride it. I thought I’d been learning pretty well up to now. Getting on and getting off at the different and various milestones throughout this first year. But, then a wave hits and you weren’t expecting it.

Last weekend my sister finally made it home after five long months. Covid-19 prevented her from making her monthly trips home since Dad died and prevented her from being here for some of the big ‘first milestones’. But alas, she was able to fly home last Friday night, masked and sanitised to the core!!

I agreed to drive to the airport to collect her (masked and sanitised too), as the other alternative was public transport so this seemed the best option. I was also eager to see her and chat about how we have both dealt with recent months. As I set out for Belfast that night, I didn’t expect to be overcome with a wave and for it to soak me the whole journey there. But that’s exactly what happened.

Driving up the road to Belfast I began to remember travelling that same road in the back seat of Dads car on a regular basis. Both Mum and Dad had sisters in England and both sisters came home often. Dad was the airport taxi always. And of course he always had extra passengers – his kids. It was a day out for us all. The soldiers used to stop us and it was a great adventure every trip. These memories came flooding back as I drove to collect big sis. The tears flowed consistently and it was more of a tsunami than a wave. This one I wasn’t expecting.

And through those tears, I still managed some smiles. The memories were really happy ones as always. Dad loved taking us on road trips and these airport ones were just that. The tsunami passed as I told sis on arrival about my tearful journey. We sailed home a bit more peacefully.

And then just this morning, another wave, a rather big one again, struck. I was busy at my kitchen table writing up my accounts for last year. I promised my accountant I would have them with her next week, so I was very focused from 6am. Then at approximated 8am, the floodgates opened once more. I was recording my work expenses for last September and October and it struck me – these were the two months I was rushing between work and the hospital. The months I was cancelling work to spend more time at the hospital. These were the months my expenses stood out more than usual. In a very different way. Suddenly I was transported right back to that time last year. And boom, the tears.

As I battled through the grief this morning, it was a tough one. Anything that brings the memory of that tough time will always prove difficult. Remembering Dad is easy, I do it every day. But being brought back to the time just before he died is not as easy to deal with. That is a time I kept a lot to myself and battled on to ensure Dad was on top form at all times. I smiled outwardly but cried sore inwardly. So this is a time that will always shake me.

Then as the wave subsided this morning, Joe Wicks came online with his last PE workout of the summer. So I put down tools, and in my PJ’s took to the kitchen floor and did the workout with the one and only Bodycoach Joe. The grief passed once more and I laughed out loud at my panting and sweating from the workout. Shortly after this a very surprise gift arrived and my day was made. It really was smiles all round. Another wave gone by.

The next one will hit too and I’ll pass over it in time. But I’m firmly aware that those waves will keep coming. And I’ll keep dealing with them as best I can. I’ll keep learning to swim.

GMcC

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