Aug14th

The Day I Met the Dark Side of Change

by 

I feel as though I have lived many different lives in this life.

This time 10 years ago, it was the beginning of the hardest day I have ever survived in my life to date.
Up until this point in my life a decade ago, change was always made by a conscious choice. Change was fun and exciting. One thing that never occurred to me was that some changes are out of my control.

10 years ago, I learned that your life can change in the space of three words.

I learned the dark side of change.

It’s funny how when something life changing occurs, every second of the day your life changed remains etched in your mind for life.

***Flashback***

Tuesday 14th August 2001

Today started off as a normal day. I slept through my alarm, again. Got up, rushed through my morning routine, and only just made the train to Central Station. I fell asleep for the first half hour of my train trip, waking up to watch the sunrise over the water as the train tracks hugged the escarpment, granting the most breathtaking view of a red sunrise.
I was lulled back to sleep by the rocking of the train, waking up at Redfern station to get my bags ready to get off the train. It was 7.59am, the train was due in Central at 8.05am, this would give me just enough time to run to the connecting train taking me along the Circular Quay line, where I got off at Edgecliff station and trotted down the steep hill of New South Head Road in my tidy bank uniform and high heeled Mary Jane’s. I love Mary Jane shoes, something about the way they make your feet look appeals to me.

I ran into the bank to get ready for the craziness of another day in a bank in Double Bay, one of Sydney’s wealthiest suburbs. I was Head Teller, entrusted with the precious cash of the mega rich who like to flaunt fresh-off-the-press greenbacks, aka $100 notes. Their bloody favourite, and look out if you should run out of $100’s.
“$50 notes make me look like a pauper!” in a voice that suggests I’ve just inflicted horrible cruelty. The only problem is there’s only so many greenbacks in circulation, and no one bank can hog them all.

At lunch Abu, the Assistant Manager, was telling me about his life with his family in India, a tiger actually jumped into their lounge room one night as they were all watching tv. It was quite a funny story actually, and no, no one got hurt.
I was then telling Abu about my family, my somewhat crazy parents. Crazy, only because of their unorthodox ways and their refusal to succumb to society’s more stupid expectations. “Dad’s a boilermaker by trade, but he’s been working as a carpenter for the last 3 years with my Uncle John, who’s a really good builder. My brother is in his first year of his carpentry apprenticeship with Uncle John. Mum’s an accountant, but she’s not one of those boring accountants, she practices meditation and Yoga. Dad’s also an Australian Bluewater Freediving champion.”
“What does that mean, he dives in blue water?”
“No, well kinda, he jumps into the ocean and dives down to shoot pelagic, or big fish with a speargun.”
“Ohh, with a scuba tank?” Abu asked like he was beginning to comprehend.
“No, he snorkels on the top of the water, and then holds his breath to dive down, sometimes as far as 100 metres to shoot a fish. He has incredible breath holds, just short of 6 minutes”
“100 metres? Come on Akasha, you are joking right?”
“Nope, I’m serious, I’ve watched him do it, and I’ve seen the depths on the sounder.”

Our lunch break ended, our conversation with it. For another 5 hours we endured “100’s please.” and “Darling, I’ve been waiting so long that my poor little dog Fifi is late for her pedicure!” Oh my God, seriously? I don’t think Fifi really cares about being late for her pedicure, she’s too busy licking her ass.

Once the doors on the bank closed I was in a hurry to get out of there, I balanced up in a hurry, I couldn’t risk missing the train from Edgecliff, otherwise I would miss the linking train that would take me home. I would then have to wait an hour for the next train. Not desirable when on a good day my commute took two and a half hours each way.
As soon as I balanced, I shot out the door, calling “Bye!” to Abu and the other staff, I glanced at my watch and realised I would have to literally run up the huge hill to make it to the station on time.

Just as I crossed the road, the bus that goes up the hill pulled up, in that split second I had to make up my mind whether I was going to try and run to the station, or catch the bus – I decided to go the bus.

I made the connecting train to the Illawarra just in time, it was strangely empty.

It felt weird, I felt weird, unsettled. The train’s usually packed with people, so many that it’s almost like winning the lottery just getting a seat, today, there was no one else in my carriage. I double checked the platform sign I could see through my window, yep I’m definitely on the right train.

I usually read or write on my trip home. I felt like neither, I just sat there feeling agitated and unsettled, staring out the window watching the trees and landscape rush by.
I was thinking about what I was going to wear tonight, to Mum and Dad’s barbeque with all of our extended family in attendance. I was really looking forward to catching up with everyone, we’d all just moved from our most favourite family home, one that we’d amazingly lived in for three whole years.

Mum and Dad have just bought a 40 acre property nestled high on the escarpment, a beautiful place with breathtaking views, but no electricity. The bulldozing started today to clear some of the trees to make room for powerlines to run up to Mum and Dad’s place. When Mum and Dad decided to buy a place without electricity, I decided I would have to move out, there’s no way I can work in a bank dealing with some of Sydney’s most elite, and wake up in the pre-dawn darkness to try and get ready without power. Not happening. Dude’s Dad offered that I could live with them. Technically, I only needed a place to keep my stuff, most of the time I slept at my boyfriend’s place.

After my long trip on the train, that seemed to take extra long today because of my highly hyperactive and uneasy state, I finally got off at Dapto and jumped in the car, heading onto the highway and ejecting the tape so that I could listen to the radio as I drove, I didn’t usually, but the empty train had me strangely on edge, I was feeling hyper-aware, as I often do when there’s something catastrophic going on in the world.

It was 6.55, the news would be on soon and I’d see if there was anything going on that I should know about. Just as my hand reached for the volume dial to turn up the radio, my mobile phone started playing “Sweet Child of Mine”.
I ceased my reaching for the volume knob, I was almost home anyway, I looked at my phone to see who was calling, so that I could decide if I was going to answer whilst driving, the screen displayed “Dad’s Mob”.
I pressed answer “Hey Da!”, my Dad and I used abbreviations as pet names for each other, he’s my Da, and I’m his Daught. “Hey Daught!!!….” My phone went dead. Damn it! Dad was probably calling to ask me to bring bread or something to the barbeque. He sounded like he was just cracking his first beer and was in high spirits for a mid-week get-together to celebrate the fact that they’d have electricity by the end of the week.

To celebrate Mum, Dad and Jacob’s move to a place where Dad could play his music as loud as he wanted without noise complaints from the neighbours, “’Cause there aren’t any Daught!”, where Mum could sit on a rock and meditate in her backyard and hear the sounds of the bush, and where Jay and Dad could practice archery, and all their target games without fear of hitting anyone. Anyway to celebrate all of this, and the fact that they would have electricity soon, Mum and Dad were having the “party to end all parties” as Dad put it. Mum and Dad are massive party animals, and everyone loves our parties. Only this time, Dad had spent the last week calling people he hasn’t even spoken to in 10 years to invite them up to the party that would end all parties on Friday night. “Straight after work, just head up.”

A change, a new adventure.

I was thinking about how exciting this new phase was for Mum and Dad as I pulled up out the front of my boyfriend’s place and ran inside, only to be met at the door by Eugene, my boyfriend. He was giving me a weird vibe, I guessed he was waiting at the door for me so that he could follow me around and hurry me along, I’m notoriously always late. So I spoke first, “Dad just tried to call me, my phone cut out, I’ve gotta call him before I start getting ready.” I glanced at him on my way up the stairs, his face was white as sheet, and it looked like he was frozen in time. What was up with him these days, he just keeps getting weirder.

“Just, don’t worry about calling him, we’ll be there soon anyway. Just get ready, and Asha, please hurry” Eugene pleaded. “Ok, I’m just gonna have a quick shower to wash off the Sydney train grime”.
“No, you can’t, we’re already late”. “No Mum and Dad know I don’t get home til around this time… oh alright, I’ll just get changed” I surrendered without further argument because of the exasperated look Eugene shot at me.
So I picked out a top that I love, Dad’s always loved it too because it’s all frilly and flowery. I was feeling a bit like a Daddy’s girl today for some reason, so I chucked it on and quickly touched up my make-up.
We dashed out the door 15 minutes after I’d pulled up. As we got in the car I asked Eugene if I could borrow his phone to call Mum and Dad to make sure they didn’t need any bread, or beer or whatever it was that Dad had called me for.
“No, they’ve probably sent someone else out for it by now”. I was so confused by Eugene’s reactions tonight, I spent the next 10 minutes pondering his mood, he was quite a volatile sort of person. It was only when we got a couple of blocks from my Gran and Pop’s place that I came out of my daze “Eugene, the barbeque’s not at Gran and Pop’s, it’s at Mum and Dad’s, you’re going the wrong way”. “Change of plans” he said abruptly.
I assumed he was cranky because of my family’s inability to stick to a plan. “Oh, ok” I replied hesitantly.

Just as we were around the corner from Gran and Pop’s place, Eugene pulled over and turned off the car. “Have a cigarette.” It was an order, not a suggestion. “I just put one out” I said, confusion ringing in my tone. But I reached for my packet to do as he said. “No, you’d better have one of mine, they’re stronger”. “Why do I need stronger?” Now I was really confused. What the hell was going on?
“Stop asking so many questions! Here!” He jammed a lit cigarette into my hand.

We started smoking in silence. About half way through the cigarette, I was starting to feel seedy from the nicotine. Eugene’s phone rang, as he answered I could hear what sounded like my Mum’s voice in her “emergency” tone. You know, the tone of voice that Mum’s use when there is danger, or you’re in really bad trouble. Eugene was talking to Mum in a monotone then he handed me the phone, with a look that was almost fearful. Fearful? Why is Eugene fearful? “Hi Mum, what’s going on?”
“Akasha, where are you?” Mum cried in a tone of voice I’d never actually heard her use before.
“We’re just around the corner, we’ll be there in less than a minute”. Mum hung up before I could finish the sentence. What the hell? Has the whole world gone crazy?

Eugene restarted the car, and as we turned the corner, I saw my Nana’s sister’s car parked in the street, 15 houses from Gran and Pop’s house. “Huh, I didn’t know Dad’s Aunty knew anyone in this street” I commented as we drove past her car, which was out the front of my high school friends’ house.

Eugene seemed to have taken a vow of silence.

As we progressed down the street I could see many other cars that I recognised as cars of friends and family. In fact, the street was so full of familiar cars it was obvious we couldn’t get a park anywhere near Gran and Pop’s place. Eugene had to park 6 houses up from their house.

I got out, and I couldn’t think why there would ever be reason for everyone to be in the same place on a week night. I walked down the street dazed and confused, looking at the number plates of all the cars I passed, to verify that, yes, they belonged to our people. What the hell?

As Gran and Pop’s house came into view, I realised the whole house and yard was buzzing with people’s hushed voices, the occasional sniffle. I took in all of my family, and extended family, standing in groups on the grass and on the porch, I saw without seeing what must have been at least a hundred of my kindred, all faces turned to look at me.

The air turned silent.

My stomach dropped, like an elevator dropping 100 floors in a rush.

I felt my survival instinct kick in.

Something was not good here.

Something was definitely not right.

“Akasha!” Mum called. Startled, I looked in the direction of her mangled shout.

“Akasha!” Mum cried, and then she stepped forward from the crowd.

“Mum?” I stopped walking. Mum was reaching for me, like she desperatley needed me to come to her.

The thing was, I couldn’t. I was frozen. Mum’s face was twisted in agony. Whatever Mum was about to tell me was going to cause me agony too.

I don’t want to know, I resolved.

Feeling adrenaline rush through my body as my muscles prepared to run in the opposite direction of my own Mum.

“Asha, come here” Mum sobbed, she could no doubt see the mixture of confusion, fear and desperation on my face.

“No.” It was the first time I’d ever denied my Mum of anything. As I went to turn and run, Eugene grabbed me by the waist so quickly my feet lifted off the ground, he nearly threw me into Mum’s arms.

“Is it Pop?” I asked, frightened, as Mum’s Dad seemed to have been the closest person to death in our family. He’d had a few ‘scares’ over the years.

It was only as I asked the question did I see over Mum’s shoulder, Pop, stooped over the porch rail, like it was supporting his whole body weight. He was looking straight into my fearfully searching eyes.

Searching for some logic for this craziness.

Searching for some reassurance.

There was no reassurance in the eyes that bore into mine. There was nothing but agony in those eyes too.

In the micro-second that had passed since Eugene threw me into Mum’s arms, I realised I already had tears streaming down my face.

“Who, Mum?”

“Akasha, Dad’s dead”

The world stopped.

“What?”

“Pheobe too, Akasha, they were squashed by a tree”

There was nothing.

No Light.

No Faith.

Everything I had ever, everthing I had anything…

Nothing.

Everything I had ever known was obliterated in that single moment, I was blown apart by a cellular explosion. I felt my consciousness shoot out of my body as the foundations on which I’d built my world crumbled beneath me.

The next thing I was aware of was looking up at the stars, cold grass, and somebody screaming like they were burning alive in the fires of hell.

Then I realised the screams were coming from my body.

The agony was now mine.

Uncle Buck lifted me up from the cold grass, cradling me in his arms like a baby, as every atom in my body screamed with the pain of my shattered world.

A procession of crying kindred followed in our wake as Uncle Buck carried me into Gran and Pop’s loungeroom, there was so many people in here, so many people coming through the door. Uncle Buck placed me on the lounge, as people surrounded me, Mum came through the throng and sat beside me, everyone moved away and gave us space. I couldn’t talk, I was frozen in a pain I didn’t know existed as silent tears streamed down my cheeks, “she’s going into shock” Pop said, handing Mum a blanket to wrap around me. “No, I’m hot! I’m really, really hot, get this off me” Couldn’t they see the flames, couldn’t they see that my soul was engulfed in a blazing torch of agony?

I started ferociously stripping off my winter layers, stopping when I got to Dad’s favourite top, only to realise I’d never see my Dad again.

I started rocking back and forth as my being was wracked with an indescribable pain, “How?…. What happened?” I braced my arms around my body and cried harder. “Akasha, they were bulldozing the trees… and they didn’t see dad’s car coming down the driveway until the tree was already heading straight for the car” Mum choked the story out between sobs, then she stroked my face “My baby girl, they said it was quick. He died on impact, the tree hit his head.”

I all of sudden needed to know everything about how my Dad died “When did he die?”

How could this possibly happen, surely it can’t be real, can it? I felt my mind split into two, one part of me was in agony, my Dad is dead. The other half of my mind was in what could only be described as a lucid state of detachment.

“He died at about 3pm this afternoon. We’ve been waiting for a long time for you to come, I tried to call you at the bank and Abu chased you across the street, but you didn’t hear him calling out to you.”

Wait, Dad called me way after that… I was starting to get confused as Mum continued. “Then you got on the bus. I told him what happened and he was going to drive you down himself… He’s a nice man… So I sent the word out that no one was to call you, I just prayed that you didn’t hear it on the radio. It’s been so horrible knowing that everyone knows, and you’re the only person who has no idea that your whole life has changed.”

“Huh?… Mum, that can’t be right, Dad only called me half an hour ago.”

Mum cried harder “Honey, I think you’re in shock”, she kept stroking my cheek as though she wished she could take away this god awful pain.
It was all too painful to think about.

It was too much to even try to comprehend my life without my Dad in it.

My Dad, so full of joy and energy, so full of life, how? How can the Universe have allowed this to happen?

I looked up into the eyes of my second cousin, I haven’t seen her in years, and here she is, all grown up, and here I am….

I couldn’t breathe, this pain in my heart, my God, how can I still be breathing with this pain in my heart? I started gasping for breath.
Breath that came in great, bone wracking sobs.

The next thing I can remember is sitting on a stool in Gran’s small kitchen, with my Mum by my side so that I could call Dude, someone had already called Nicola for me.
I needed my friends, people who would be my support. My kindred here were all in too much pain, everyone was trapped in their own world of despair. I needed Nicola and Dude.
As the phone started ringing on the other end, I could hear the news in the background “and a 40 year old man has been killed by a tree in Calderwood. His name is yet to be released as some members of his family have not been notified….”

No. This happens to other people, this is one of those things that you hear about happening to other people, not to my family. This is all so surreal, like a dream, or more like a nightmare that I just can’t wake up from. “Hello?”
“Dude……” I couldn’t stop crying enough to say anything more.
“Akasha?.. Akasha, what’s wrong?” A distressed Dude was trying to coax me to speak. I couldn’t, how could I tell her, just saying it makes it real, I don’t want to accept this, this can’t be real, how can this be real?
Mum took the phone then, and told Dude what had happened, asking if there was any way she would be able to come over to Gran and Pop’s as soon as she could.

At some stage during the night, I remember walking down the hallway and looking into the middle spare room, there on the bed was my broken little Brother, Luke, his two best mates Gary and Nathan, on either side of him, they were huddled together, all three crying inconsolably. Three lost boys, his best mates loved Dad like their own, how are we going to survive this?

As I cried against the wall in the hallway, I became aware of Sebastian, my cousin.

Everyone always said we were like two pieces of the same pie. He’d been hovering near me all night, like a shadow, far enough away that he didn’t crowd me, but – I only just realised, near enough so that I’d known he was close to me all night. I raised my eyes to look at him for the first time tonight, as he was hunched in the doorway, our tearful eyes met, his eyes reflecting the same mixture of emotions that were coursing through my body. Somehow we ended up in each others arms, shockwaves of tears making our bodies convulse.
For the rest of the night, my family and those closest to us sat around at the dining table, drinking, crying and telling stories.

When we were so emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted that we knew we would have to lay down, we got all the blankets from Gran & Pop’s cupboards and spread them out on the floor in the loungeroom. We were all fearful of sleep, and we thought it might help to stay together.

Sleep would be a long time coming.

Wednesday 15th August, 2001

So many colours, everything is so vivid and colourful.

I started to part from the sanctuary of slumber. Why do I feel different? What is it that I was trying to forget? As the previous day flashed vividly into my mind’s eye, I was crying before I’d even opened my eyes.

“Were you dreaming about Dad? My poor baby girl, you were whimpering in your sleep all night” I looked up to see my Mum perched on the lounge near my head, she must have kept a vigil next to me and my brother as we slept.

“I don’t know what I was dreaming about, it was really colourful. But I’ve never been scared to wake up before.” It was just like having to relive the moment last night all over again, having to face the despair of what my life is now without my Dad.

The pain that had settled in my soul made every second seem like an eternity. How was I supposed to face the enormity of this?

I decided that I needed to get out of this house filled with sadness, I went for a drive, not without a lot of protest from my family who wanted to allocate a watcher to me. I just needed to be alone, I needed time to process, I wanted to withdraw from it all for a while.

I parked at the beach and watched the waves sparkle before crashing onto the sand, seeking solace in the familiarity of the ocean. My life is no longer as I know it, every single aspect of my life now starkly contrasted between what was, and now – this pain, a sorrow so deep that not even a dictionary’s worth of descriptive words could convey.

I am staring into a chasm so deep and full of despair that it swallows me whole. The enormity of what I’m facing is unfathomable, how am I supposed to survive this? Is this pain going to be with me forever? I never understood what it was to have a loved one die, I knew it was something that would be tragic, so tragic I’d never really been able to think about it, now I’m in the midst of it, this is now my life, how have other people continued to live when they’ve lost someone? All I want to do is cling tightly to Dad, just one more conversation, that’s all I need, to say all that has been left unsaid, how can I let go?

How?

I don’t want to let go, I feverishly search through my memory, trying to conjure every last detail of him in my mind’s eye.

What if I forget?

What if I forget even just a tiny fragment of him? What if I forget the unbridled emotion in his laugh? What if I forget his voice? Or worse, what if everyone forgets him? It will be as though the man I’ve loved above all others had never existed. No. I will not that happen, I have a good memory and I will ensure that I, at least, will always remember him. The only problem is that everytime I think of Dad, a wretched, superimposed image of him with a squashed head creeps in. I’m torn apart, my own mind is now my enemy.

Everything that had seemed so important to me only yesterday now a pixel of insignificance, this time just 18 hours ago, my Dad was alive, and now… well now he’s not.
Like the waves crashing onto the sand, I float between periods of detachment and a soul ravishing anguish.

Up ‘til this point in my life I’ve lived my life confident that the Gods were protecting me, keeping me and those I love safe. How could they have allowed this?

As I’m driving home I stop at the traffic lights and look at the people in their cars. I’m consumed by rage, how dare they! How dare they continue with their lives like today is just another ordinary day! Don’t they know? Don’t they understand the world is not the same? My world has been decimated, I’m in an ocean of pain with nothing but a life vest and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to swim to shore.

I got back to Gran & Pop’s, and Uncle John had heard reports that Pheobe, our Dalmation, was alive. I got excited, if Pheobe’s alive, maybe Dad’s just played a big trick on us, maybe he’s still alive too? He’d played practical jokes on us before, maybe this was his most elaborate yet?

I jumped in the car with Uncle John and Sebastian, we were going to go to the property, and it was decided that if Pheobe was alive she may not come home with people other than her direct family. Mum and Luke were incapable, and I was excited by the prospect that maybe I’d get to uncover one of Dad’s hoax’s.

As we drove towards Albion Park, Uncle John took an abrupt left hand turn, “Where are we going?” I asked with the hope that maybe he was in on the joke, maybe Dad’s told him to meet at a secret location? “Your Dad’s car is being held at the Police station.” Uncle John said hesitantly, maybe he was expecting me to break down, I knew I probably should be a wreck, but right now there’s a resounding optimism that maybe, just maybe, my Dad’s alive and I’m clinging to that hope with everything I have.

We crept up the steep gravel road and as I glimpsed the house and my heart caught in my throat, there was Pheobe in all her spotty glory, tail wagging, waiting for us. Would Dad walk around the side of the house, laughing and throw his arms wide at the magnificence of his awesome joke? I waited.

No Dad.

My heart dropped like an anvil through my stomach, I got out of the car and vomited. Fucking denial, she’d reared her ugly head and callously fooled me.

Pheobe ran to me, crying and smiling (Dalmations can smile) at the same time. Like she was trying to convey what she’d been through. As I cuddled her, she yelped slightly. “What’s wrong with her back” I questioned as I examined a long thin welt running up her back. “She was in the car with your Dad when the tree killed him. When the Police came she was standing guard over his body, and wouldn’t let anyone near him, so they had to hit her with stick to get her to leave him.”

I don’t remember much after that.

At one stage during this day I know I came to a decision deep within myself. I needed to be able to do my Dad’s life justice, I needed to let him know that despite our differences and arguments over the years, that I Love him, that I respect the things he taught me and that I shall cherish the lessons he shared. I decided that I wanted to speak at Dad’s funeral.
I didn’t know what I was going to say, but, as I sat down at the table I let my emotions flow through to the pen in my hand.

Friday 17th August 2001

I woke this morning with the biggest lump of dread, despair and sorrow in my stomach.

Today is the day of Dad’s funeral.

Last Friday night I never would have guessed that a week later I’d be preparing myself for the first funeral I’ve ever been to, let alone the fact that the funeral would be my Dad’s. What was supposed to be the day of the party to end all parties is now the day we have to say good bye.

As I opened my eyes I could hear people crying in different places in Gran and Pop’s house. Gran was consoling Mum in the bathroom. Jason was crying in the loungeroom. I was crying before my feet even hit the floor.

As I walked out into the loungeroom, I could hardly move for all the flowers, the house smelled more like a field of flowers. I decided in that moment that the flowers were of no comfort to me, they smelled of a sweetness I could no longer enjoy, will I ever be happy again? The flowers seemed to be taunting me with their colourful happiness. Still, I understood that the flowers were symbolic of something much deeper, people cared enough to send flowers because they knew there’s nothing that can be done about this pain, maybe they hoped flowers would help in some way, for that I was grateful – their attempt to help what can’t be helped.

Today has all the potential of being the singular hardest day of my life.

With this kind of pain radiating through my being, the next hour was too much to bear thinking about.

The next minute was too long to think about surviving for another.

Breathe.

Just breathe.

There, that’s one breath. I’ve just survived one more breath.

OK. Breathe.

There’s another shaky breath.

And so it was, after who knows how many breaths, I found myself at the Buddhist Temple’s crematorium.

The wind carried with it the bite of Winter, the Sun was shining and the sky was too blue for my turbulent thoughts, it doesn’t feel right to be this sad when the Sun is shining and the sky’s such a perfect blue.

As I walked up the steep hill, Pink Floyd’s Wish you Were Here started playing.

Wafting to my ears on the wind.

No.

No. This is too hard. I can’t do this. How can this be my final good bye to my Dad, I’m not ready to say good bye yet. I shouldn’t be saying good bye.

I stopped walking. There were so many people.

Over five hundred familiar faces, all looking at me and my shattered Mum and Brother.

Pity glinting in their eyes.

There were so many people here that not even half of them could fit inside the crematorium.

I was still stuck to the spot.

Stillness on the outside. Turmoil on the inside.

The next thing I know Uncle Monkey, my Dad’s brother, and someone else had one arm under each of mine. They started dragging me through the doors of the crematorium, my feet refused to move. My heels dragging all the way up the centre ailse. To be sat in the second row between Uncle Monkey and someone else.

Uncle Monkey and I sat cuddled together, sobbing, he for the brother he’d always looked up to, me for the Dad that I would never be able to cuddle again.

Whenever life had dealt me a hard blow, my Dad would always be there, he would hold his arms wide open and say “Come and give Daddy a cuddle”, where I would then cry out the pain in my heart in the unbeatable safety of my Dad’s embrace. And now, when I needed him more than I ever had, he was not here. I wondered in that moment if I would ever feel safe again, without my Dad to watch over me and protect me.

I listened without hearing one of Dad’s most cherished friends, Martin, an Aboriginal Pastor who shared with my Dad a Love for bounty of the Earth. They would have treks and adventures together, teaching each other about the secrets of the Australian bush and, my Dad’s forte, the ocean.

Dad was loved and accepted by the indigenous community as much as he was by his own family. He reminded them of some ocean secrets that had long since been left in the grey matter of their ancestral memories. In turn they showed him ways he’d never even conceived of to cook the bounty they would gather. He was first white man allowed to walk on their lands since they reclaimed them from our government. Dad was more honoured than he could ever say. Words cannot convey the meaning of such deep gratitude.

Suddenly it was apparent to me that our family weren’t the only ones to have lost someone they loved. My Dad had so much impact on each of these people’s lives that they’d come to say Thanks to Dad in their own way.

Everywhere I looked through my tear blurred vision I saw tear streaked faces from all walks of life. From my little cousins huddled together in the front row, then my Dad’s Dad, Opa, who was now walking down the centre aisle, a pall bearer carrying his son’s body to his funeral.

The final good bye.

The searing agony in my heart was so intense that I was sure it was going to stop beating any second now.

My Dad’s body is in that timber casket. How come it looks so small? I guess Dad always seemed larger than life. My Dad is in there. That’s my Dad. Inside a fucking timber box. All that life and energy, gone, the empty shell that used to be my Dad. His final resting place, an uncomfortable timber box.

I watched my Dad’s coffin being walked up the aisle of the crematorium by his Dad, his Brother, 2 of his brothers-in law, and his son. My heart breaking a little more with every step they took.

Then, through the bone wracking sobs convulsing through my body, I felt a sense of deep peace.

I stopped crying, as every cell of my body was saturated in a deep sense of love, strength and courage. It felt like I was in my Dad’s arms again, the unconditional Love and security embraced my soul.

In the midst of this feeling of deep peace, my name was called, to come up and give my Dad’s eulogy.

The feeling of peace did not leave as I walked to the podium and unravelled the scrunched up, tear soaked piece of paper.

“What can you possibly say about one man that meant so much to so many people?

My Dad is a legend.

Jason and I aren’t the only ones who have lost our father. He was everyone’s Dad and brother, and he loved us all so very much. He was so proud of our extended family that branches out all over the World.

Dad inspired every person who ever knew him with his zest for life, which couldn’t be matched.

He was renowned for his crazy personality and antics, and he was proud of it.

Like the time he went prawning naked. Or the way he would drive his boat so fast that when he turned around he’d have no passengers left in the boat.

And how he would greet each new boyfriend I took home to meet the family with a red wig, frilly dress and work boots on.

Dad used to embarrass the hell out of me, but as I grew older I learned the lesson he was teaching me:
Don’t take life so seriously, laugh everyday ‘til your stomach hurts. Life is meant to be lived, so live each day like it was your last, don’t save it for tomorrow. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

I know that Dad would not want us to obsess over his death. He would want us to celebrate his Life.”

 

11 Responses to The Day I Met the Dark Side of Change

  1. 6 years ago by Wend

    You are amazing sweety. You have written so wonderfully of a story so close to ur heart and u are very inspiring. Your Dad would be so proud of you! As am I. This would have been heart wrenching for u to write. Love and light xo


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