Coming to terms with loss

You never quite come to terms with losing someone that you love so dearly, so deeply.

You clumsily navigate the feeling of loss that tears you apart on a daily basis. You wonder what happened, where did they go? Maybe they are somewhere in the world that’s just so far away that they can’t find their way back to you. Somewhere where they faded out of existence, they want to come back but they can’t. And it hurts so much, so much that you wonder when will the hurting stop? When will it end and when will I really be able to face the outside world again?

When the day comes to face the world you feel vulnerable, fragile and weak wondering if you can cope with the many “I’m sorry”s.

Then there are those who tell you that God knows best and to pray and to just get over it. Or they say that it’s time to stop grieving. What do you know?  Hey, did you just lose your father? Ripped away at such a young age, just 50 years old and me just 10, 10 years old and suddenly without the man that impacted my very existence. The man who was my air, my joy, my fear and my life all in one.

Let me tell you about my Dad: He was the funniest man on earth to his 10 year old little girl. He hugged like a bear and made you feel so warm and happy. He would come back with surprises after being out.  He swore once when me and my sister where hiding under the table and we couldn’t stifle our laughter. He told us off, but really we know that he wanted to laugh for being caught out!

He was a stalwart in the church; he was a campaigner for black people’s rights. He fought for equality and got it in church. He worked hard; he loved his wife and was never afraid to show her affection in public. I know that because I saw it and besides I have the evidence to prove it. There’s a picture we have are them walking together on a church trip holding hands like young lovers.

He could sing, and sing he would every Friday evening in the bath. He could cook and on a morning before school he’d make me and my other younger sister “Frothy Milk” which I would learn later in life was eggnog. He used to buy the meat from the butchers and season it so well, so that he and my mother could cook it for their family. I remember how good it was because one day he had seasoned the meat and it smelt just so good that I ate a piece raw. I was so sick that night, and had to explain why. He told me off and that I should never do it ever again (that was his love and concern.)

On a Sunday he would take us to Victoria Park that sat in the middle of Leicester and we could play cricket and rounders’. He loved young people and along with own his six children he would be responsible for so many others. He was a man’s man, a true dad, a true father. He ruled the nest (although, we know that mum really did, she just let him think that he did). They worked together to support us and provide for us.

He made us laugh; he made us cry when he died. He drove a Rover, it was such a stylish car; cream roof and green body with leather interior, I think. My dad had style and class. He also took us wherever he was going or so it felt. One or two of us at least would be on for the ride to wherever his travels would take him. He loved his girls, all seven of them, mum and us. The amazon’s!

I miss him. I wish that he had seen me grow, the things that I have done and achieved who I have grown to be. My children who are amazing and I know he would be chuffed with them. I know that I would be always asking for him to bring them back as he would take them to the park, for fish and chips (one of his favourites) to dominoes to show them off to the boys at the table. To say “These are my granddaughters, look at them they are smart, loving and funny”. In his eyes they could do no wrong he would spoil them. Much like mum would tell him that he was spoiling us, his daughters, his girls.

He had a perchance for dominoes, he’d play most Saturday nights with the boys at the table at church, shouting, goading laughing, Dad was fun and everyone knew it. “Manny” mum would say. John Emmanuel Alexander Chambers. Such a legend of his time, yet, he could be found of a night laying on the sofa watching TV munching peanuts and crisps and calling his children out of bed to change over the television. Par for the course in a West Indian family.

It seemed like thousands of people turned up to his funeral, coaches came from around the country. I never knew we knew so many people.  The church was packed, every crevice full to the brim. I cried for most of the ceremony, it was just so painful. I still didn’t fully understand. What did it mean, what does it mean “He’s gone.” Gone where? Why is he stone cold, why won’t he talk to me? Why did he die and leave me? Leave us? I still don’t understand.

So we come back to the pain, the hurt and the loss that requires navigation. It dullens… that’s a Madelineism. You learn to live with it, to cope with it. Especially in a culture where you are not supposed to speak of it, because the bog standard answer comes back. “God knows best”, “He’s with God”, “One day we will see him in glory and there will be no more dying there.” It seems that is the best comfort that many can give, stunning the necessary grieving process that allow you to play out your hurt, frustration, anger and feelings of loss. The standard is to expect one to swallow down those feelings and come out with a Godism, which God himself did not approve of.

Ever so often something happens, or I watch a film or a programme and this issue of death and loss comes up and I find myself crying.  I feel the very real hurt and pain of my own loss and I cry. Then I get over the wave and I am fine until the next time. I have accepted this as part of my journey. I want to be able to talk about my Dad and cry about him without my feelings and emotion, memories and loss being hushed away or Godified. I’d like my hurt and loss to just be acknowledged and be allowed the time to cry.

David, my husband, is great at allowing me that time as experience has now shown him that it is a necessary process for me and it will pass. The funny thing about my husband is that he is like my Dad. He is funny and always makes me and everyone he comes in contact with laugh. He has a passion for young people and for encouraging them to be their best. He loves to play; he loves his girls including me. He dotes on his daughters and I often have to tell him off for spoiling them. He doesn’t really season the meat…not like my dad (smile.) He’s ambitious and is focused on providing for his family, he’s entrepreneurial and is striving for more so that we have more. He’s never afraid to show me his affection and always holds my hand when we are out. He will kiss and hug me in front of the children so that they have a great example of how a man should love them. He always has my back and he works with me for the betterment of us as a unit. He’s popular but he’s not big headed and he doesn’t seek out fame. He’s just seeking to be his best. He’s a campaigner for equal rights for women, he calls himself a feminist. He’s so like my Dad. He he’s a thinker. And he can sing!

When you feel the hurt of a loved one passed. Allow yourself to feel it, you don’t have to stamp it out, stuff it down, snuff it out. You can allow yourself to feel it and then let it pass until the next time comes. In the meantime…live!