Friday, September 27, 2013
On the 15 September - my parent's 65th wedding anniversary - my dear Dad died peacefully in his sleep. On the morning of his funeral - one week ago today - I sat in my parent's lounge room feeling anxious and sad. I was looking around at all the photographs that surrounded me at the time; and I mean really surrounded me - Mum has always been a huge fan of framed photos and she has quite the collection. Many of them feature my father.
Although I felt overwhelmed at that point seeing my father's face everywhere (a shooting pain reached my heart each time my eyes met his), when I spotted a photo album sitting on a shelf underneath the coffee table, I couldn't stop myself from picking it up and looking through it.
The photos inside were fairly recent - meaning taken within the last fifteen to twenty years. They included happy snaps of my parents holidaying with family members and friends or of Mum and Dad together. There were also some pictures of me, my kids, my sister, Mrs C, my niece, nephew etc. Quite a menagerie of photos in all.
As I flicked over to a new page, I suddenly noticed the corner of a black and white photo sticking out from behind one of the photos encased in its plastic sleeve. Curious - it seemed so out of place - I pulled it out and straight away recognised it as a photo I'd seen before many years ago, although I couldn't tell you who the people were in it. But that photo doesn't really matter. Pulling it out caused yet another photo to come out along with it. I gently prised it from the album and when I finally saw it, my heart skipped a beat. The photo was the one you see above in this post: a picture of me and my father, taken outside our family home when I was just a baby.
I smiled, probably for the first time that day. I instantly knew that Dad was with me. It was as if he'd sent the photo to tell me it was okay; he was there for me, just like he'd always been throughout my life.
Seeing the photo didn't just comfort me at that point, it also made me believe a little bit more what I had felt had happened just a couple of days before that - on my forty-third birthday. It was just three days after my father's death, and also the day I would fly home for his funeral. As I woke that morning, with my eyes barely open, I had clearly heard my father's voice in my head saying, 'Happy Birthday, honeeey,' - saying it just like he had every other birthday before that. Had I imagined it? Willed myself to hear his voice just one more time? Finding that photo made me think that perhaps anything was possible.
Today would have been my father's 88th birthday. I know I speak not only for myself but for all of my family when I say my Dad is already missed more than words can express. However, it feels comforting to know that even when, like today, the pain of missing him feels almost unbearable, that he will always be with us. The above photo will always remind me of that.
Happy Birthday, Dad. Love and miss you.