Abruptly losing a parent when you’re 8000 kilometres away from them for most of the year still sucks, even one year later.
It’s the first anniversary of the day my father died. I’ve felt a bit adrift these past few days, knowing today was coming and not being sure what to do with it. I’m here at the end of it now and I’m still not sure what I should have done with it beyond pushing through.
I find myself wanting things that were once little but are now impossible. I would like it to be Sunday night again. It doesn’t especially matter which one, as long as the usual schedule was in place and we were on Skype. I don’t imagine having some deep and meaningful conversation with Dad. I just want to talk about the usual things. “Work, weather, R,” he would instruct me, the three key things that seemed to tell him how I was. In the last few months, we would have Mr. K there babbling or crying or sleeping his way through the conversation as well. I want that again. I want to ask him about the football, or tell him about some silly driving thing or another, or ask him about whatever it was he was up to.
It probably isn’t a surprise that I still imagine how things might have been instead. Even now, I think about the day I was supposed to have on April 7th 2016. K was supposed to be doing his fourth day of narashihoiku in the morning, practice childcare for the children – or babies, in his case – who are just starting there. I was planning on having coffee at the Tully’s nearby for the two hours he was there. I was quite looking forward to the sitting in the cafe part of things.
I let myself long for one big thing, and that is that Dad had met Mr. K. This is kind of an exercise in self-torture, but I do it. I imagine how it might have gone, me pushing Mr. K in the luggage trolley through customs at Melbourne Airport, turning through that final hallway and out to the arrivals area. I’d find him and Mum and my sister, or one of them would find us. I think of Dad meeting Mr. K , and I imagine him getting a bit teary over that. I think of him picking him up and talking to him, doing a thumbs up and deliberately “translating” whatever Mr. K is babbling as a complaint about me to stir me up, as he did on Skype pretty much every week right up until the end.
And that’s as far as I go with that. There’s a limit to the degree I want to guilt-trip myself, I guess, and there’s the whole thing with being careful of what you wish for. Once upon a time, not so long ago, I wished for a trip home no matter what. Lesson learned, you know?
The thing with being so far away is that I didn’t and don’t really know what was happening with my family back at home and vice versa. We get the basics of it, but not the mundane minutiae that really paint the picture properly. I don’t miss the day-to-day Dad stuff in the same way my mother or my sister do because I wasn’t there for it.
But I miss what I did have, so very much.