Today my Dad died. A simple phone call was all I got to convey the ending of a life. My Dad. The man who was strength and dependability in my world when I was a toddler. The man who was a fierce raging bull of spittle and anger as I grew. Unpredictable and reckless when I was a teenager.
We had a challenging relationship. A staccato of mis communication and dancing around the things we needed to say. The injustice and neglect. I felt I was owed an apology for the ways he damaged my childhood. Trauma and fear have been the background to my existence. He was stuck in a cycle of the grief and disappointments of his life. Over the past month when I have been ill he has shown up for me in ways he never has before. I discovered I did still need him. I wanted him to mop my childlike brow and sweep me up in his big strong arms. Tell me that it would be ok. If he could do that then surely it would?
Somewhere deep inside I was still that little girl who needed her fathers love. The one who had lain in bed delirious with measles at the age of five. Drifting in and out of consciousness. Landing in a fever soaked field of white to be pursued by phantom foxes until he cooled my brow and told me to sleep. The girl who had nightmares of pus filled spiders that he chased away with a hug when I woke screaming in the night. The three year old who burst into tears when he shaved of his moustache and sobbed so hard because I thought he had hurt himself, he promised to never do it again. That girl knew her dad could chase the demons away, or would put himself between me and them shining light so bright they could not prevail. When I was staring down the biggest demon of them all suddenly all the years, anger and heartache evaporated and I needed him again.
The snow started to fall the moment the phone rang. ‘Dad’, announced the display. Hi Dad, How are you doing? I said cheerily into the phone. There was a pause then a woman’s voice. ‘Cara? Its Catherine’. His partner never called me. We did not have that sort of relationship. Already I knew it had to be serious. ‘I’m afraid its your father’ she continued. Then the line went dead.