A Dance With Grief

Posted on: September 11th, 2018

Yesterday morning I found myself making chicken soup in the kitchen crying. Grief had come to visit. I had pressed play on the music system and Ol’ Blue was belting out New York, New York. Not an emotional song you would think. But it was the song at my wedding twenty-seven years ago that I had danced with my father. It was also the last dance I had with him just over two years ago when we celebrated my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

At 10:30am I danced in the kitchen with him again. I hope the neighbours didn’t see me dancing alone, crying my eyes out clutching a wooden spoon. In the normal course of things, I wouldn’t allow myself the time to indulge (interesting word choice) in such bouts of grief. But yesterday was raw – unavoidable. I hadn’t realised why because it was not the anniversary of Dad’s death…or any of those special days when you are prepared for the road bumps grief sets in front of you.

Yesterday I gave a talk at the St Ives September Festival and it corresponded with me doing the same thing two years ago. I knew then that my father was dying as I’d known when he made that last trip to Cornwall just weeks before. That day I had stood in front of a room full of people and delivered some sort of talk. One person in the audience knew the turmoil within me and bless her she sat in the front and almost held my hand although I had never met her in person before that talk.

Just days after that on Friday, I collected my husband from the train station and he told me he’d been made redundant. In the long run this has proved to be a gift but at the time my world wobbled. I was scheduled to fly to my parents in Florida on the Monday. I was torn. Did I stay in the UK and support my husband or fly to the US and support my parents (I’m an only child). My husband pushed me out the door and thank God he did. Dad was gone days later on the 30thof September.

I still haven’t allowed myself to grieve properly. Even while sitting at his bedside in his last hours I was working (I was on deadline for A Cornish Christmas Carol and he was so proud of my work. The Returning Tide was the last book he read but he didn’t finish it. I knew then when he no longer had the energy to read that his time on this earth was coming to a close. If you’ve read that book the last scene he read was the one where Lara struggles to say goodbye to Grandie). When I returned to the UK a few weeks later my children and husband had already been through the sharp side of their grief and I hadn’t even begun because Mum had needed me, and I still had a deadline.

I was back down in Cornwall working on the novella and the news came through that my agent had died. The novella was due the next day. Carole, bless her, had sat on my shoulder and told me I was a professional. I delivered on time. Then I had another book to write, another deadline to meet, someone’s hand to hold….

So now nearly two years on I am doing the slow dance of grief, still struck by how piercing the pain can be. I am good at powering on, looking after others and shoving myself to the back of the queue. I know the grief never ends but changes and evolves. I tried to explain this yesterday. I didn’t cry for my father. My father had the best of lives. I cried for me…I think I may need to do more of that.