“Forever means for the rest of your life” (a post for Dad)

To say i miss you would be an understatement.

To say i’ve yet to fill the gaping void you left with anything meaningful would be a complete lie.

All i  have left are the memories you imprinted onto my heart.

A year to the day I got the phone call saying Dad was clinging to life in hospital in Adelaide. I was so excited to be making my first trip up to Brisbane in 2 years to see Emma Dean in Cabaret, and was looking forward to doing my first poetry feature up there.  When I heard my aunt’s trembling voice i knew straight away. The flight over was agonizing, time seemed to slow down to almost nothing. Every routine wait, for my luggage, for a taxi, was precious seconds I could have been spending with him.

as it turned out I was four hours too late.

 

There was nothing I could do.  Nothing anyone could.  It turns out my aunt had been trying to reach me the entire flight over.. 

The funeral was beautiful, in as much as funerals are beautiful. So many of Dad’s loved ones. So many people who had been touched by his kindness and grace, compassion and good humour.  Afterwards we returned home, to the house i grew up in, the house that a few weeks later i would find out would be mine. The barrage of well wishers, the well intentioned friends, the people who didn’t know what else to say other than “i’m sorry”. 

One of my favourite tv shows ever is ER, especially the episode where Mark Greene dies. his wife Elizabeth Corday says one of the colleagues of Mark at the funeral “it doesn’t feel like he’s gone to me”… and a year later, it doesnt. I still feel that closeness, the bond that we’ve had and still share, only it’s distant now. he is somewhere i can’t reach and it still flattens me.

The most enduring memory I have of Dad is when we used to go to victor harbor, a 2 hour drive from adelaide on the south coast.  I would have been about 5 years old. we were feeding chips to seagulls and I said “what does forever mean, dad”  and he said ” forever means something doesn’t end. it’s for the rest of your life. so when i say, i love you forever, it means i love you for the rest of your life”. 

so here, in a very small room, or a loud cafe, on a stage, in front of a microphone, over a coffee or a cocktail, before I go to sleep and when I wake up. This is forever. For the rest of my life.