Life without my father, without my daughter but with all other aspects unchanged. I have to say that I miss my Dad more than my daughter.
Hear me out.
She is away on the trip of her lifetime (so far) that will change and develop and shape her to be the adult that she was meant to be, for the rest of her life. I hate that she is away and I hate not being able to hold her close and breath in the scent that my brain registers as ‘daughter – primal importance’ but my missing her is a totally selfish thing and every time I struggle with her not being here, I try to remind myself that she wanted to go where she is and she is having a wonderful time and that the new surroundings more than compensate for the homesickness that she sometimes suffers. I am so proud of her for doing it. Missing her is a selfish way of hanging onto the past. I will see her again. But, God, I miss my baby girl in the here and now.
My Dad, on the other hand…missing him is both selfish and altruistic. I miss him for my own selfish needs but I also miss him for the contribution he made to society. He was so well respected, so well known and his absence has left a mark on this small city intellectual scene. As for missing him in the old familiar places: well, if it practically bends me in two to go to his apartment, how much more must his beloved wife suffer? He will never be around again to assuage our longing.
I am writing a book about him. I haven’t told anybody except my husband and my stepmother (and now the whole internet!). Him because he might wonder why, in a whole day off, I have only managed to accomplish one load of washing and there are sandwiches for dinner. Her because she always has nagged me about writing – my Dad did, before he died, and she has taken up the cudgel. I think that maybe I wouldn’t be doing this if my Dad, in the last few days of his life and medication loaded, hadn’t announced this collaborative book that we had already written! It was always his dream that I should write a book and my steadfast protestations that I couldn’t do it and couldn’t think of a subject matter made no difference.
I made the mistake, years ago, of co-authoring some articles with him and, ever afterwards, he was pushing me in that direction. I think my internship as the world’s worst copywriter inspired him as well. In his final few weeks he wanted me to write about his illness (and, I suppose, ultimately his death) and I bought a little recorder so that I could record his version – it was meant to be from the perspectives of both a caregiver and a patient, making it fairly unique as a medical book. But he was so much sicker than he realised (I knew even if everybody else either didn’t or wouldn’t face up to it) and I wouldn’t tire him by pressing it. Consequently, I have only one recording of his and I can’t even bear to listen to it so it won’t be in the (hypothetical) book.
Wondering why I mentioned it here if I’ve only told two others and obviously mean it to be undercover? Nobody in my family bothers to read my blog: I’ve been writing for over ten years and it is supremely uninteresting to all of them.