Thursday, 4 September 2014

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Moving back to live with my mother at the age of nearly 40 (YES, NEARLY FUCKING 40) has been an experience. It is, of course, a temporary move, and a move that I feel constantly defensive about.

Most of my peers are living, well, like adults. You know, paying their own rent, married to people, having kids, buying houses, redoing kitchens, that kind of thing. People younger than me are celebrating their tenth wedding anniversaries, their kids are graduating, time - and life - has moved on.

And I've been thinking a lot about why I'm here, why I'm in this moment right now, why I'm living at my mother's house, why I don't pay any significant bills every month anymore, why I have turned my back on nearly 20 years of independence.

I know I've lost a lot of time because my dad died. Yeah, I know. Boo hoo. I do go on about it don't I? But that's the thing. It stopped the clocks in 2001 and they haven't started again yet. It arrested my development. Stymied my progress. Stopped me caring. Threw me into an abyss and I couldn't get out. And it may seem pathetic, stupid, a waste of time, weak, obsessive and sad. That's because it is.

I had no real concept of Grief and how it would affect me. Who does? I know that I grew up under the shadow of impending death and that affected me. Obviously. Turned me into a loony tune with issues. But everyone has issues. There's nothing special about my experience. What seems to make me special is my inability to move on.

It's been nearly 14 years since that Friday dad died. A lot has changed outwardly. Friends finished. Buffy finished. My relationship finished. My brother got married, had kids. My dog died. I've had about 50 million jobs. I've lived in too many different places. I've lost a gall bladder, appendix and my sanity. I've struggled to commit to anything, a home, a bloke, a job.

So I suppose it was inevitable that, at some point, I'd have to stop. Regroup. Think. Have some real time to consider the universe, gaze at my navel, wonder what it's all about.

That's what I'm really doing here. Now. On this island. My dog has brought some comfort into my black little heart. She has shown me what it's like to live with fortitude in the face of shitty circumstances. Lose a leg? Fuck it, move on man. Lose a dad? Fuck it, move on man. Move on.

Fourteen years is a long time to live a half life, under the shadow of an event over which you had no control and that is, although unfortunate, natural. Life is death. Love is loss. To love someone is to face the fact that separation will come at some point. Sometimes, for some people, it's sooner than for others. So what? All in the end is harvest.

It's no coincidence, of course, that my dad is buried on the Isle of Wight. People ask me why I moved here and, honestly, I think it's because I wanted to be near my dad again. I thought I would be at his graveside every week. I thought it would bring me some comfort.

But, it really is just a marker in a field. He's not there. Ashes in a box, some of which may be from his body, are there. He's not. Death isn't sleeping in a field. Death isn't somewhere we can go. The only reason I'm still grieving is because I can't let go, in my head. I can't let go of my daddy. But I think it's time that I really started to try. Because, until I do, I think a half life is all I'll get.

Do not stand at my grave and weep 
I am not there. I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I am the diamond glints on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you awaken in the morning's hush 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there. I did not die. 


  1. I don't know what I want from you, but you provide it perfectly every time. I hope you never stop writing.
    I think things work themselves out in their own time, there's no schedule. Though I'm not the best person to listen to. I know the whole commitment phobic, life on hold deal a little too well. Though for different, possibly less valid, reasons.
    I'm sorry about your dad.

  2. Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot.

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