Middelkerke, Belgium. 10pm.
Second Sunday of August, Father’s Day in Brazil. I thought I’d be okay, but there I was, rolling in bed from midnight til 6am because this dreadful day had begun and I miss my dad.
I went out for a walk in the morning and ended up sitting on a bench by the beach to write, as words are how I deal with tangled up feelings. This couple of seniors sat next to me, and the man asked what I was writing about. “Mon papa”, I replied.
We talked for a bit. Why is it so easy to talk about my dad in a lighthearted way, say “It’s okay, thanks” when people say “I’m sorry”, even make a sarcastic remark or two, when all I want is to cut my heart open and show them the huge hole I carry around with me?
This has been the toughest Father’s Day I’ve had to endure since dad passed away.
Mum isn’t a 50-minute drive away to offer me comfort. I couldn’t just take a bus and head to my grandparents for lunch. The one proper conversation I had today was with a couple of strangers. I can’t just hug my dog hoping that she’d fill in the void in my heart. Does my dog even remember me? Seems like I’ve been away from home for so long…
I promised mum I’d be okay today, that everything was fine because I am great at the whole solitude thing – in fact, I need it to function properly. But there was no solitude today, only loneliness. Having the time and the silence to think and work were not a luxury anymore – they were an utter nightmare instead. Going out for a walk and not seeing one familiar face on the streets no longer meant freedom and relaxation, but meant isolation and displacement. It seemed as if Augusten Burroughs’s words from “Dry” were being carved into my skin – I felt lonely, lonely in some horribly deep way, and for a flash of an instant, I could see just how lonely and how deep such feeling runs. “And it scares the shit out of me to be this lonely because it seems catastrophic.”
I thought maybe going through old photos of dad and focusing on the happy memories would help.
Instead, I cried until my stomach started hurting and I could no longer keep the apple I’d had in the morning down. I tried calling a friend back in Brazil but my voice wouldn’t even come out, because if I opened my mouth, I’d only cry some more. To be honest, I didn’t even want to talk, I just wanted a friendly hug while I bawled my eyes out. I spent hours considering whether I should just pack everything and book the first flight to Brazil. Things would be so much easier if I just went back home…
“Okay, let’s see how much a plane ticket to Brazil would cost me if I were to leave tomorrow.”, I thought as I opened my laptop. First notification I get when the screen lights up is from a human who’s just read dad’s letter and left a comment on my blog. “God, this letter was everything I needed to read now I’m quitting everything to become a digital nomad.”, it read.
Dad’s letter, the one he wrote to my cousin going on exchange about 20 years ago. I’d completely forgotten about it. I re-read it. Again, and again, and again.
“Because of that, you also don’t need to worry about always being happy or cheerful. Sometimes, you’ll feel down, you’ll feel solitude and think that you’re wasting your time. It’s not like that. Solitude and feeling down also help with self-discovery. Because of this, don’t run from experiences just because they might seem frustrating or lonely. (…)”
You and your wise words. Thank you for everything. Thank you for the memories, for all you’ve taught me, for being my favourite human. I’m so grateful for the 15 years I had with you. I’m sorry I’m such a mess sometimes, and I’m sorry I often wallow in self pity – life gets rather tough every now and then. I love you, et tu me manques beaucoup.
Feliz dia dos pais ♡
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