I knew it was too good to be true. This year started off as such a positive with a job I love, my finances finally in a good place and lots to look forward to. My inner pessimist was just waiting for something to come along and ruin it but even with my imagination I never pictured the events of the last week.
I was at a recruitment event minding my own business when in walks one of my long lost half sisters (and her mum) who I haven’t seen in about 10 years. I’ve not really had much to do with that side of the family and have seen them only now and again. But I went to say hello and have a little catch up intending to arrange a real meeting at a more appropriate time. So there we were catching up: who’s getting married, who’s divorced, how many kids do we each have etc etc etc and then her mum says “Oh you know your dad is dead don’t you?” ……………………………….
Er no actually I didn’t.
I barely knew my natural father. He was a heavy drinker before I was born (nearly 42 years ago) turning into alcoholism over time and he could never hold down a relationship or a job and I ended up calling someone else “dad”. He would enter your life for a while but then drift back out again as the drink took hold. But still to find out he’d died was a huge shock and still distressing, no matter how estranged this is the guy that created me.
But the worst of the tale is he died alone of liver disease two years as a result of the drink having alienated all of his friends and the rest of his family. Only one person went to his funeral and that was the half-sister I bumped into and she kind of went by default only finding out she was next of kin on his death. I don’t know who I feel sorry for the most; him for being all alone or her for having to plan to attend on her own.
I can’t imagine dying alone. I have a difference of opinion to my mother who believes we all die alone but to me you may die in your house with no one around but if you die on your own in your house knowing that you are loved then you’re not truly alone. To die on your own in a flat knowing that no one will mourn you is one of the saddest things to me.
I’m not sure how I feel now. I’ve been through the run of emotions: devastation knowing he won’t randomly appear ever again, anger that someone could choose alcohol over family, confusion as well over the same thing. I accept it’s a disease but it’s one I don’t understand. I even went through a weird phase of being angry at alcohol for luring him in like it did.
It’s been a few weeks where I’m grateful for all the pebbles of support I mentioned in a previous post. As exhausting as it’s been talking and grieving this is the first major issue (work stress of last year pales into insignificance now) I’ve had to face since my breakdown in 2010 and I can see how far I’ve come. I used to bury these things and say everything was fine or just simply not talk. This time I’ve talked to everyone and I feel better for it although I do need to learn not to apologise to people for needing to talk. Having a sense of humour helps too. I’ve laughed a lot in between the tears and that has helped too.
But to try and see a positive I’ve swapped phone numbers with the half-sister and we’ve promised to meet up and see if we can forge a relationship however late in the day. I don’t know if you can just say don’t let go of people however badly their behaviour because you never know when you may lose them but maybe if we have people with issues maybe we can all research and learn a little more and try and understand. If it saves at least one person it’s worth it