It is a belief many cultures share, that those we've lost somehow are still connected to us. The language for this varies, it might be heaven, life after death, eternal life, the spirit world, the hereafter, the happy hunting ground. Even in families there will be words for it, upstairs, beyond, in that other room. Our memories and our philosophies shaped by their presence in our lives. If the belief is held at all it is a comfort or a horror, depending on the relationship in life.
This week a friend I lost touch with contacted me and in the exchange asked me to fill in the gaps since we left off. I am still thinking about how I respond. What is relevant what isn't, who do they want to know about, what makes sense from the person they knew at school. There are the facts that are a matter of record and then there is the interpretation which changes with mood, time, perspective and experience. Later this week a postcard from another arrived, thinking of me as they know it is exactly 10 years since my Dad unexpectedly and traumatically died. An odd milestone and the precursor to another. I have been thinking about the time that has passed without his presence.
Unexpectedly is an odd word to use about death, we are all expecting it, but because it is there all the time we ignore the possibility. I had a fear of it as a child, someone at school had told me with glee that because my parents were older they were going to die sooner and for weeks afterwards I would check on them in the night to see if they were breathing. Eventually the checks became unnecessary. But it WAS unexpected. Traumatic too because it happened in a car, medics worked on him and my Mother watched, as they tried, knowing he was gone...
So I've been thinking about my life in segments, and for the last few months very much about life since Dad.
Dad isn't someone you can capture in words. The spirit of him is elusive in a very defiant and definite way. His views of heaven were subtle. He wasn't tied to a religious belief though raised in one. He had his own sense of hope and whilst quite capable of looking into souls and deciding whether their aim was true or not, he was optimistic somewhere about people. He could see the worst and still notice the best. His notion of heaven (and he had one I think) was that it was different for everyone and in explaining this he said perhaps it was doing something you loved, like an endless game of bridge.
Inevitably with such self indulgent musings the question is asked what would he think? I don't know the answer. It wouldn't matter what he thought anyway, as what drove our relationship, like all good personal relationships wasn't in the end thoughts but feelings. Proud or disappointed, amused or bored, annoyed or contented, whatever the dynamic at the bottom was always love.
So 10 years ago he left suddenly, rocked us all and the world has no idea what they lost out on.
But I do, because I was one of the lucky few for which he fought to live as long as he did.