I had a dream the other night that dad was alive. Not that we’d never lost him, but that he’d just pretended to die and then came back. Even at the time I knew it was nonsense: ‘...but I saw you! I saw you dead!’. I was so angry with him, and so relieved to be held by him.
It was strange and unsettling.
I think the fact that his partner has forgotten him already, combined with gearing up to close out his storage unit tomorrow - which feels onerous and overwhelming - has carved a bit of a groove through my resilience this week and I feel raw and lost. As I said, just a bit broken.
I was listening to Gretchen Rubin’s short podcast earlier this week and she told the tale of a man who was struggling after losing his wife. The author she was referencing (a therapist, Viktor Frankl) was working with him and asked what would have happened if the roles were reversed. What if he’d died first and left his wife. The man said his wife would have been devastated, to which the therapist replied ‘you have spared her that. You have taken that pain for her’.
While I hate that Dad's partner has forgotten him, and I hate that in many ways we’ve lost them both, I am - I suppose - glad that Dad was spared that pain. And that he was spared having to cope with her decline.
I spoke to Dad's partners sister-in-law today, and asked if she ever talks about or remembers Dad.
I don’t think she does, not really. Apparently she doesn’t talk much about him and when they bring him up she says ‘he’s the one who drowned’. I don’t really want to think too much about what might have morphed into drowning in her mind.
It feels so immensely sad. Another erasure. Another repository of memories of Dad being eroded so soon - just six months for their 27 years of love and laughter to fade away.
I know it has shaped her. I know she holds it in her heart even if she can no longer remember quite who, or when, or why. I know it matters not whether she can recall it but that they shared all those years of mutual adoration. But it still hurts.
I hadn’t realised how fond I was of her until we lost Dad. If I’m brutally - shamefully - honest I was often jealous of her in recent years and sometimes wanted her out of the way. Not for ever, not even for very long, just for a little while so I could spend some time with my Dad without her. Just us. I missed us, I still do.
Over recent years, there was barely a minute where they weren’t together. There were certainly no more gentle afternoons just me and Dad hanging out in the pub or pottering at home, chatting, or not chatting. Just being. Together. I missed those. I always will.
In hindsight I can see that this was not just their increasing and eccentric co-dependence and teenagerish giggly adoration, but a symptom of something deeper and much more sinister. She was the body, he was the brain, and together they made it through. Now he, and all that kept her anchored in the here and now, has gone. And very soon she will be lost to us to.