One week today it will be Christmas Eve. And on that day it will be exactly a year since the last time I ever spoke to my Dad, the last time I saw his face on Skype; the last laughs we shared and our last goodbyes.
As the anniversary of his death gets closer, the grief and longing to see him again is palpable. I have found over the last year that it's the days before a big anniversary or special occasion that I find the hardest.
I find it harder than usual to not relive certain moments over and over again in my head. I fall asleep thinking about them and during the (albeit rare) moments of quiet during the day, my mind quickly wanders to those hardest of days. To the moment I heard what had happened, to the deep, dark silence that filled my car as my brother, sister and I travelled to Cornwall that same day to be with my Grandparents and the rest of my family; to his funeral – standing, looking at his coffin, speaking the words of my eulogy for him.
Come the day itself, I find strength I didn't think I could muster. I can smile as I think of my Dad's beautiful face and jokes he would crack. I find the dread I had about how I would feel, melt away. I've realised that the complete sadness, the heartbreak, the amount I miss my Dad, isn't greater on those 'significant' days. It's that way every day; some days are easier than others, of course, but it's there always. I replay those moments all the time. It's hard not to. I think about my Dad all day, every day. Happy thoughts, sad thoughts; smiles and tears.
In the summer, when we were driving back to Cornwall for our summer holidays, I spoke to Ben about the last time I had driven those roads. And Ben told me about how, when I told him that Dad had died, he wondered what the next year would hold; how I'd cope, whether I'd even find the energy to get out of bed and carry on. That the strength I, and my family, had shown was incredible, inspiring. That my Dad would be so proud of us all. I think of Ben's words often too, they help me hold my head high when I want to look down and cry.
I'm looking forward to the New Year like I never have before. I'm ready for 2014 to be over. To begin a new chapter. It's been the hardest year of my life. Learning to live without my Dad here beside me, seeing my best friend be heartbroken, moving away and starting a new chapter in her life, how hard things are for my brother right now and knowing of the sadness my sweet friend has to endure after loosing her precious babies; my young sister in law cope with the diagnosis of cancer and watching Ben's beloved Grandad pass away leaving his wife of 60 years. The list seems endless. But it has also been so wonderful. Coralie's arrival has bought such joy, and the happiness and laughter Josephine has bought us is something I will forever be thankful for. Planning my sister's wedding and seeing how happy she is, the birth of my Godson and watching my best friend create a beautiful home for her boys and find strength that is so inspiring, my sister in law getting the all clear and showing such bravery.
At this time of year it's important to reflect on all we have to be thankful for, and despite the heartbreak I've suffered over the last 12 months, I know I have many beautiful things to be grateful for. And I plan to focus on those. I am thankful for my girls and for Ben, who has been so strong when he too has been so sad. For my family and such good friends. For a safe home, good health and yummy food on the table. Knowing that my Dad was so happy when he left this Earth, and being free of any anger that so many have to suffer when someone they love so much dies so suddenly.
This week has bought such sadness around the world. The tragedy is Sydney, which unfolded just round the corner from where my Dad was living this time last year, and the truly horrific and soul-wrenching events in Pakistan yesterday. When the world faces such hatred and heartbreak, we must focus on what is good.
Finally, I am thankful for you. The support I have received from my little online community, via my blog and IG, has been incredible. And whilst I've had some messages questioning sharing my grief and my feelings through this medium, I remain grateful for the opportunity to do so. To have some of you reach out with your own experiences, to have you all offer such kindness and happy thoughts.
With the New Year comes new plans for this space. I've barely held on to it this year, but that's ok. It has been a year to begin healing, to be quiet and to reflect. But I feel that now is time to start writing more. To take more pictures, and I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging more regularly after Christmas.
I am, as ever, inspired by my Dad and will keep moving forward, keep seizing the day and new opportunities.
Much love to you all, and thank you xxx