**Sorry this post is rather late – I didn’t have the emotional energy to post it when it was first written**
Alternative title : I wanted to be happy, I really wanted to be happy … After all, birthdays come with presents and cards and cake and love and hugs and all those wonderful unicorn fart-esque moments. I tried to be happy, I really did try … But I couldn’t … Because you weren’t there to say “happy birthday flower”, because you were no longer part of the signature on my “happy birthday daughter” card … Because you weren’t here.
I wanted everyone to forget the date, I wanted Facebook to bog-off with it’s little celebration (in fact I might tell it to permanently bog off once I’ve written this post), I didn’t want cake or flowers or cards, I wanted an unremarkable day. I can’t say that I wanted a day like any other because I spend each day attempting to navigate around the dull ache that I now recognise as your absence.
I just didn’t want reminding that this was my first birthday without my dad …
It was a raw, anguished feeling … My brain had trouble understanding why he wasn’t there, he should have been there right? Surely not even death could keep him from his daughters birthday? Guilt soured my stomach as I watched those around me still making an effort … Still trying to make it a happy day with a cake in the shape of a giant cupcake with a huge amount of icing and sweeties (thanks mum) and well thought out presents (of the mostly hiking variety) when all I wanted was to curl up in a ball and cry because no matter how good a cake tasted, or how amazing a gift was, ultimately the only thing I wanted was a hug from my dad. I wanted to tell him that I loved him, that I hated this new “normal” that we were forced to endure, that we needed him to stay with us, that I needed him to stay with us … With me.
But that isn’t even an option anymore is it?
I was completely and utterly melancholy as my birthday didn’t really feel like a birthday as much as it did a reminder that he wasn’t here. A glaring reminder that he hasn’t been here for over 5 months (already!) and yet, everything still seems to be carrying on as it did before … People don’t talk about him as much anymore, almost as though he has fallen from their memories (even though I know it’s not true it does sometimes feel like that).
My other half treated me to a trip to Amsterdam in the hopes it would distract me … At times it did as I observed the gorgeous architecture, the glistening canals and the quite frankly HUGE array of bicycles! But my thoughts always returned to the piece of my life now missing, my brain didn’t need a reminder to do that, it would just automatically close the door on the outside world and stray into the realm of memories or (usually obscure) sayings or jokes (that no one else would understand). It would find it’s way back to the waiting Grief Monster and together they would poke away at the wound … As though bound together by the promise of keeping it torn open, each time a scab attempted to form they would tear at it until it crumbled and fresh pain was unleashed.
I’ve been trying to find doses of happiness or things on which to refocus my thoughts when I feel myself getting overwhelmed by it (after all, bawling in H&M for no reason other than feeling the Grief Monster’s shadow creeping up gets kinda exhausting after you’ve sobbed your way through pretty much every shop you encounter in Lancashire). This could be something as simple as a walk in nature, or jumping in puddles (yes I’m 32 now and I still jump in puddles! What of it?!), or the smell (and taste) of a freshly brewed cup of coffee, or finally getting the balls to sign up to the gym and take on that dreaded Circuit class with the instructor that makes your sphincter shrink back with fear the moment you hear his voice (last time I tried this class I was in so much pain afterwards my other half was convinced I had given myself a hernia – Spoiler : It wasn’t a hernia, it was just my core being as strong as wet spaghetti).
And when we came back from Amsterdam I treated myself to a tattoo (if you’re reading this mum, I’m sorry – I should have told you! Oops) … Maybe one day I’ll share a picture of it with you guys and gals, for now I’m keeping it for myself (it spends most of the time hidden from other people while it heals up and to be honest, the only ones who know I have it are my other half, the tattooist and you lovely lot … And possibly my mum if she ever sees this blog!).
These are things (no matter how small or strange) that remind me that I have to keep moving forward (even when certain dates crop up to smack me in the gob) as ultimately I can’t allow the Grief Monster to take control of the drivers seat and stop me from living (even if some days are just so hard for me to function through).
If you (or someone you know) has been (or is being) affected by Cancer, then I can highly recommend Macmillan – they are amazing folks!
**EDIT : I’m finding Twitter to be quite a negative place at the moment and it’s having a serious impact on my mental well-being … So if you do follow me on there I’m sorry, I’ll probably be rather quiet and will likely only have scheduled tweets going live for a little while BUT I am loving Instagram, it’s giving me some real Wanderlust (especially after our Amsterdam adventure) so if you want to see what I’m up to away from LHB HQ Insta is the place to find me!
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