Friday, December 21, 2012

Sobbing my heart out

This morning I sobbed in the supermarket. It wasn’t the sheer overwhelming experience of my Christmas shop or the fact that I couldn’t find a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. It wasn’t the stress of shepherding Little C through the crowded aisles. It wasn’t the wee darling using a box of tampons as a rattle or the rude lady at the fish counter huffing and puffing at the inconvenience of my order.

I sobbed in the supermarket because it’s Christmas, and whilst I’ve done my best to get into the swing of it, I can’t deny that I find this time of year really tough. I miss my family and friends who are so far away, the distance is compounded by the flow of beautiful photographs of a wintry Christmas.

But it’s more than that. This is the time of year that I miss my dad the most. The run up to Christmas, and then the weeks that lead to the anniversary of his death in February.

This morning as I negotiated the crowded shopping center, list in hand my mind wandered. I thought back to my last Christmas with my dad. And then as my memory focused and I re-lived it between the watermelons and the pineapples, I sobbed. My little love, C looked at me quizzically from her seat in the trolley as tears rolled down my cheeks. 

The trouble with grief is that you spend so much energy trying to keep a lid on it that when it boils over you’ve got no choice but to let it flow. And so I stood and cried. I finished the shop, and cried in the car. I got home and put the girls to bed and cried in the kitchen. And then I cried and cried and cried.

The memory was a false one. The last Christmas I had with my dad, 12 years ago, 7 weeks before his death, wasn’t my last Christmas with my dad at all. Because I missed my flight. I remember his laughter on the line, typical Catherine forgetting to confirm with the airline. And so instead of celebrating Christmas in Uganda with my Dad I spent it with my friends (my mother and step father had gone away, my sister was working in Paris).

Eventually after hasty negotiations with British Airways and an eight hour flight I arrived at Entebbee late on Boxing day. As I remembered this simple fact I searched my mind for my actual last Christmas with my dad… and I couldn’t place it.

I’m starting to forget him.

My heart aches for his smile and his laugh. I still have a thousand memories from my early childhood through to my teens. But as the years pass my memories are fading.

On that last trip to Uganda my dad flew us to Merchant Falls. We hung out by the pool and drank cold Bell Larger. I treated him to my infamous buffalo impression.

The flight back was a bit hairy. I held my breath. For a good ten minutes I honestly didn’t know if we’d make it. When we landed safely at Kiijaansi I said a prayer.

“You weren’t scared were you?” he joked.

“Pha! we laugh in the face of fear!”


We rang in the new year with Simba Sounds and more Bell Lager. We didn’t know we were running out of time.

Today I sobbed for the last Christmas I had with my father.

I just wish I knew when it was. 

                           

                                                       This is for you, Dad. I love you.

49 comments:

  1. Hi cath, that post made me sad! I remember your dad well from our childhood! I am sure he would be very proud of you and your gorgeous girlies! Have a very merry Christmas, Cathy x x

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    1. Is that you Uncle Robert? Sorry for making you sad xx

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    2. Hi, it's not your uncle Robert it's your old friend Cathy O'donnell x x

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    3. Oh hi, Cathy! I was just talking about you the other day. G has started talking about 'best friends' and I was telling Dusin about our dance routines and how much I creied when you moved away! (Ongar being akin to Australia to a 10yo!).
      Lots of love to you, lady.
      Xxx

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  2. Lovely, Catherine. Thanks for sharing x

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    1. Thanks for reading! not a very jolly post but writing it made me feel slightly better xx

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  3. This is such a touching memoir to you dad. I think there is nothing better than to have a good cry about things. It's like a straw that breaks a camel's back, someone just needs to look at me funny if I'm in the midst of emotional turmoil and I'll cry. Thinking of you and just because you can't remember every single detail about your dad it doesn't make your love/feelings for him any less real.
    Emily x
    P.s Those bloody Chocolate Oranges!! Try Target, David Jones or Myer.

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    1. Thank you, Emily. I think a good cry has done me the world of good! I'll try again for a chocolate Orange :-)

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  4. I am so sorry that you have to miss your dad on Christmas. Just imagine he is looking at you right now from above there and smiling because to him you are forever his wonderful daughter :) XX

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  5. I know how this feels, and the crying in the supermarket? I've done this too. I think it's due to the fact that it is an autopilot task, it allows your thoughts to take over and then next thing you know you're crying in the condiments aisle.

    Sounds like you have some lovely memories of your dad and that photo is a classic! Hope the sadness passes so that you can enjoy a few memory making moments of your own with your little ones. Wishing you all the best this Christmas!

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    1. I think you're right, Shelly, and I'm sure it wont be the last time I'm blubbing into my shopping list.

      Wishing you a merry Christmas too xx

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  6. I feel sad for you Catherine. I miss my Dad and he's just a flight away in NZ, a flight we can't afford :(. I hope you feel better after a cry.

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  7. I wish I could give you a hug. :( xx. I have been trying to remember my last Xmas with my dad, and it was 2003 and it was the first time I knew he wasn't well. So I am remembering my Christmases with him, from when I was a kid, and how excited he used to get when we opened our presents. :) Merry Christmas Cath xxxxx

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  8. I feel your pain Cath, this time of year I burst into tears at any little thing missing my parents more than ever at this time of year. Fletcher has had so many Christmassy things that my parents should have shared with us. The gap that they have left at times seems to be getting bigger. Big hugs and a Merry Christmas to you and your gorgeous family.

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    1. Lots of love to you my darling, I hope you have a lovely Christmas xx

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  9. Happy Christmas from deepest N Wales, your Dad lives on in our memories !!! Steve Jones

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  10. Let them flow. It's healthy to cry every now and again. Big hugs. Hope you can enjoy a bitter sweet Christmas with your Dad in your heart.
    xx
    Danya

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  11. Oh Catherine, I'm sorry this time of year is so hard. From this and other things you've written your dad sounds like a wonderful man. Thinking of you. xxx

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  12. Hugs Catherine it would be so hard for you at this time of year. I still hope you have a wonderful Christmas this year.

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  13. I am sorry that you go through this. I know it all too well. Christmas was always a special holiday between my dad and I. I lost him when I was 13 in October.

    Like you I am also away from family. I completely get it. Let those tears flow. It is therapeutic.

    Hugs!

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    1. You're right that a good cry is therapeutic, I think it did me the world of good. Lots of love to you xx

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  14. You are right. Sometimes we need a good cry to get it all out. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's hard. I know. My Mum died when I was 15, and only 9 days before Christmas. It's a hard time sometimes. My Dad finds it the hardest. Hugs to you. x

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    1. So sorry to hear that Jodi, 15 is very young to lose a parent. I think its hard because you can't escape the fact that its Christmas, it's not like a random date on the calendar, its everywhere!
      Lots of love to you xx

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  15. This is lovely and so sad. Life is sad isn't it? I never knew this until recently, I thought we were supposed to be happy 24/7 but I don't think that's the point at all. Take care xxx

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  16. Big hugs, grief can be like that, sneaking up on you when you least expect it xxx

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  17. Oh Catherine. That must be so hard. Big hugs and lots of warm thoughts. Take care and hold your family close ...
    Cheers and Merry Christmas
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    x x x

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  18. Christmas is always such an emotional time. Sometimes just listening to Christmas Carols makes me cry. I often wish I could be back to the days where Christmas was all fun and presents...a time before the harsh realities of life come to spoil the fun. It is great to have a cry I think as it does help us to heal and get back to enjoying our christmas with the family that are with us. xx

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    1. You're right, a good cry did me good and now I can get ion with making Christmas fun for my girls xx

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  19. Sending love and hugs your way Catherine - what a bittersweet time of year for you. I hope that fond memories fill your heart, Merry Christmas xxx

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  20. Just as you think you're starting to forget, you'll remember something you haven't thought of in years, or someone will tell you something you never even knew. Family and friends hold the keys to unlocking these important memories. Merry Christmas. X

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    1. That is so true, you are a wise lady. Thank you! Merry Christmas to you too xx

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  21. Thanks so much for sharing. Sometimes grief takes us by surprise and Christmas is the perfect setting for it to rear it's head. Beautiful post, sending you lots of wintery christmas love xx

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    1. Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to lots of London Christmas photos from you on IG :-) Merry Christmas xx

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  22. This post made me teary - I know what it is like to grieve at Christmas. I am missing both my parents and my son who died 9 years ago. I seem to go in and out of grief at Christmas - this year I seem to be sad - and really haven't decorated or anything. Just passing through till the new year I guess.

    Blessings to you and yours and just know, when you grieve you are not alone.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that. I think its extra hard at this time of year because there is so much focus on being jolly.

      Sending you lots of love xx

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  23. oh hugs Catherine, it's ok to cry, you have good reason. I feel our christmas is going to be very emotional. We are travelling tomorrow to be with hubbys family as it is the first christmas without their dad. And my SIL lost her mum and dad within months early this year. Lots of love and joy wishes this christmas xxx

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