The Gravedigger

Last weekend I met a gravedigger. He was my first … that I know about anyway. My dark, macabre side immediately surfaced, digging for black humorous tales of burials gone wrong. Instead I was confronted with the sad tale of how he dug his very last grave when he buried his mother.

It passported me back, surfacing soul changing memories of losing a parent. I don’t speak of my sadness often, as I have failed miserably to grieve. Choosing to push grief away and soldier on is probably not the best coping method, but it’s my coping method.

Running is a solace for me, an almost meditative space where I can explore thoughts and feelings I don’t allow time for in my every day. On this morning, the thoughts of the gravedigger led to haggard tear filled breaths as my mind ran through memories of the man my father used to be and how much I miss him. More heartbreaking than losing my dad, was seeing the shadow of himself that he became in his last months. A larger than life personality stripped by poor health, to a battered meak soul.

Christmas festivities will always now be overcast with a shadow. Dad passed on Christmas Eve. I didn’t just lose my dad that day, I lost a part of me. I was one week into a new job, I soldiered on and found ways to ignore the pain. But numbing pain, led to numbing myself from life. It took me the best part of two years to feel again.

There are some memories that will live with me forever. His last birthday, when the hospital staff wheeled him outside as a special treat, he looked so weak and almost childlike in his vulnerability. The 7am stricken call from my mum on Christmas Eve when she found him not breathing. The cold lifeless face of peace as I touched his forehead one last time before they took him away. But the other memories are the ones I will cherish. The way I laughed so hard when he fell out of his kayak in crocodile infested waters in Katherine Gorge (okay I have a wicked sense of humour). His pride when he watched me graduate. Picking me up from the school disco on his Harley. Making my son giggle uncontrollably when he wouldn’t let him leave without hugging him all up. The time I snuck my new boyfriend home, only to find my dad sleeping in my bed after being evicted for his snoring and assuming I wouldn’t be home. That was me caught out! The list goes on ….

He was a bit nutty, a bit silly and very very kind. He was my dad. My memories will stay with me, but I will always be sad we didn’t have longer together. Until we meet again …. although not too soon please (as I hope I have a few more years left in me yet!).

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