two weeks

I know a lot of words but often I still feel like I do not have words that are adequate to express what is in my head and heart. I think in some way that is because feeling happens at a level of .. I don’t know, consciousness? Awareness? Existence? A level that is more primal than language. Language is something we have invented but feeling is something that we are.
The last while has been broken up into sections of two weeks. It’s two weeks since the notfuneral. That was two weeks since he died. That was two weeks since he went to the hospice. Saying it like that makes it seem like not a very long amount of time but it hasn’t felt like it. Is it really only 6 weeks since that disaster where everything got set back to zero? Six weeks that we spend waiting for the next set of appointments with the next person we have been sent to see, trying not to worry that they too will tell us that whatever is wrong with Stephanie is not their problem. And in the meantime having the not dying and then the dying and then all that stuff.
The not dying was worse than the dying, to be honest. Stephanie and I went to visit one day and it was pretty terrible. I mean, I thought he looked like shit at Nanna’s birthday. It was so much more when he was laying in a bed, literally skin sagging on bone, hands laying awkwardly because there was no muscle or energy left to put them where they usually go. Mouth open. Eyes neither open or closed. And it seemed like he had some sort of awareness of us but it was hard to tell for sure.
We make the choice to end the lives of other creatures that we believe are experiencing more pain than joy in life. We decide, they cannot tell us. They cannot tell us that they want it to stop. Making this choice for them is considered the correct and compassionate thing to do. Yet people who are capable of expressing that they want to do that are not allowed. Why has human life become so held on a pedestal that the thought of ending it – whether before it happens or at the end of its normal course – has become so taboo and so abhorrent? Sometimes it is the best and most appropriate treatment. It is considered a human right to be able to make our own health and medical decisions. So why is that right removed when it is needed most?
It is strange now that it is finally over. I don’t feel unbearably bereft or something that seems like it will never get better. I think in part this comes from having been expecting and preparing for it for so long. And in part because I don’t believe that this is the end of the adventure. I find myself thinking about numbers. He was a month short of being 87 years old. When he was born, in England, in 1929, the life expectancy for a male baby was about 55 and a half years. So when he was born, it was expected that anything he lived past early 1985 was a bonus. A thirty-one year bonus is pretty good, I think. When they watched the video my mum made Abigail commented that she didn’t know he was a twin. It made me wonder if his mum knew, before they were born. Obviously, no ultrasounds to tell you that, but on the other hand, the midwives were probably a lot more experienced at diagnosing position and number of babies by palpating. 
Another number: 80% of the people in our household have had a grandparent die this year. The 20% has one remaining living grandparent. (Luckily for her, I don’t think this statistic has great relevance to her likelihood of dying any time soon.) I am 35 years old and my first grandparent has died. For my children, that happened before they were even born. Daniel’s have been spread out.. I think one died before he was born, one when he was a kid, one a few years ago. I still have the most living grandparents in our house. 

two weeks

ten thousand, three hundred and fifteen days

A common theme of discussion at the moment is death and the state of being dead. Particularly as it relates to Galen and my father. (Abigail likes to tell people that Galen died on the road and he wasn’t holding a hand and “he’s still dead.”)

Stephanie asked me last night how old my dad was when he died. After thinking for a minute I said, “Um.. twenty-eight.”

Then it occurred to me that I’m 28, too. Then it occurred to me that he died in April, around three months after his birthday. It’s now February, which is about three months after November (my birthday).

I used an age calculator to figure out that he was 10315 days old when he died. Today, I am 10311 days old.

I think of what I have done so far and things I want to do, learn, see still.. and I hope that I have a lot more than four days left.

ten thousand, three hundred and fifteen days

the paternal relationship

When I was a kid, other kids asked me what it was like not having a dad. On occasion I felt the need to point out that I did have one, and death doesn’t equal not having existed at all. But most of the time I just pointed out that with so few memories of him, it was just normal to me for him not to be there. What is it like having one who is there all the time? They think that’s a silly question, because that’s just how things are. You don’t ask people “what is it like breathing?” And for both myself and the other person, the state of having or not having was a normal one and so not something you felt the need to stretch to describe.

For the most part it was not something that bothered me. With so few memories of what it was like before, when he was there, it was hard to put together a comparison in my head of then versus now and decide which one was preferred. Of course I would have liked it if I didn’t have a dead parent, but being so young when he died it was hard, as a child, to see how before and after were different, apart from the obvious.

When we got married my grandfather gave me away. That was fine, it was not any big heartache to me that my father was not there to do it. Perhaps because it was not something I had ever looked forward to or imagined happening one day. Five year olds are not generally fantasizing about their one-day wedding. So probably I always knew that if/when I got married, it would be my grandfather giving me away.

Neil tried to teach me to drive. That.. went. The first car he tried to teach me in was his car, a somewhat temperamental manual that you kind of had to have an intimacy with in order to work it. I couldn’t even start it. And that clutch business, jesus H. I don’t know if it was the way that Neil tried to explain it or if it was because of the way the car was, but I didn’t fully understand the way a clutch worked until I was in England and watched Daniel driving.. and wondered why he wasn’t doing it the way I had understood Neil to have instructed. Later after we came back from England he tried to teach me in Herta (auto) and that wasn’t going too terribly, I think, until the day he was directing me into the carport at his and my mum’s house. One of their cars was already in there, but it’s quite long so you can fit two in. He stood behind the other one and kept beckoning me forward. “Keep going, keep going.” So I kept going and he ended up temporarily pinned between the two cars. I believe that traumatised me much more than him and I don’t think there were many more lessons after that.

Neither of those experiences really made me feel any more bothered than I ever had been about his absence, though I do think that as an adult I understood more the types of things I had missed. But it wasn’t just adulthood that really made me feel his absence – it was motherhood. Watching my daughter and then daughters interact with their father and their grandfathers. And then, strangely, even more so as the mother of a son – seeing how his relationships with his sisters, parents and grandparents develop. There is something very special about watching the relationship your children have with your parent/s. To see the way each of them loves my mum and how she loves them – it’s a relationship that is independent of me and would carry on without me, but could not have existed without me. So it’s a wonderful feeling of appreciating the beauty of grandparent-grandchild love and knowing that I had a big part in that being able to happen. It’s not the same with Daniel’s parents, as I think that probably most people don’t feel exactly the same thing for their spouse’s parents as their own, and also with them being in England their relationships with the children must unavoidably develop differently. And it’s not the same with Neil, either. While I don’t doubt that he loves each of the kids and they all love him; I feel reasonably sure that he is not at all like the kind of grandfather that my dad would have been. So that makes me feel an empty spot, the sadness over what my children will miss because he is not here and the sadness that I don’t get to watch that and take away the warm fuzzy feeling for myself.

Strangely, I think also that as I am with Daniel for longer and longer, that also contributes to the feeling of loss. Because now I see and every day, household example of an adult male and how they “work” on a broad level. And sometimes when I am excited or sad or humoured or depressed, I want Daniel to either share it or heal it. And sometimes I want my mother. And sometimes I want my father.

driving to bendigo (by wiccked)

the paternal relationship

the final frontier

For the “die-hard” Trekkie, you can now get a permanent reminder of your love for Trek to house your remains once you’re gone:

STAR TREK ™ Line of Urns and Caskets
For the millions of fans on our planet and beyond, our new line of STAR TREK urns, caskets, monuments and vaults will be an important discovery indeed. After ten movies and five television series, phrases like “Live long and prosper,” “Resistance is futile” and “Space: the final frontier” have become part of our global vocabulary.

While I don’t think they are the kind of thing I’d choose — were I into having my body buried or my ashes sat morbidly on Daniel’s bedside — I think they could have been a lot worse. They’re a lot more attractive than probably about at least 50% of the post-life accessories I’ve ever seen. (Check out the “Cat Fancier’s” urn for your dearly departed feline friend — that truly is a monstrosity.)

the final frontier