The Empty Chair.

I miss him so much. My wonderful, kind, generous, loving, intelligent,  and articulate father passed away on the 3rd December 2014, and my life has irrevocably changed. The hurt I feel at his passing has engulfed me, and my heart has been torn open and exposed.

I tell myself my grief is entirely selfish (which of course it is – all grief is the shallow wish for that person to remain in one’s life), for he was suffering badly, towards the end; but this doesn’t help – ultimately, I just want my Daddy back.

It’s not merely the loss of him; it is the loss of that part of myself that he inspired – the long chats about M-theory, infinity and the nature of the universe; the exchange of favourite books and discussions about them; the puerile puns, Goon Show and Spike Milligan quotes told to one another amidst tears of laughter; just the laughter – infectious and perennial. I will never meet another soul with whom I can connect in this way.

It’s also the feeling of that person receding from you in time; they remain static, forever as they were when last you saw them, whilst you move on and change, not deliberately, but because that’s how life works. It has been three months now, and I’m terrified of being disloyal, as it were, by getting on with my life. I truly felt the world had stopped when he died, and that the sun would fail to rise the next morning. I still find it hard to grasp that everything has just carried on. A world without my father is a sorry shadow of a place.

I see him every day, oddly, whenever I take a pen in my hand and physically write – as I have inherited both his exact hand shape and his handwriting. It upset my mother, recently, as she mistook something I had written for his. I find this small comfort – yes, I am proof his DNA lives on, but that’s not the point – I want HIS particular combinations to continue, not a small, diluted essence of them.

Daddy was an atheist. He had an incredible, mathematical mind, and could understand the wonders of the universe without needing a faith to reinforce them; he knew the meaning of the equations. (I like to  imagine him as Neo in the Matrix, looking at the universe in a different way to other, lesser minds, mine included.) The beauty of mathematics and physics were sufficient for him. He consequently thought that upon death, the essence of self is snuffed out like a candle, and is forever gone, being as it is, solely composed of electromagnetic and chemical reactions within the brain. He gently tolerated my Christian Mum’s views, never trying to change anyone’s mind, but similarly firm in his own opinion.

Whilst not as firm in my beliefs as my mother, I have nevertheless always been unable to follow my father into the purely atheistic viewpoint (a personal near death experience which was very strange has reinforced my agnosticism). Now I find it impossible, as if I am to believe nothing remains after death, then my father is truly gone, and I can’t bear the thought. If I examine that concept too closely, the blackness oppresses me to the point of utter overwhelm, and the tears become smothering waterfalls.

I have dreamt of him a few times. A spiritual friend claims these dreams are examples of him visiting me, and I would love to believe her, although I’m more inclined to think they are manifestations of my own wishful thinking.

It’s hard to write this without weeping. Your chair is empty and it mourns for you. Daddy, my Daddy, I would give anything to talk to you one more time, to hear you say gently, ‘Hello, dear,’ in your soft voice, to give you a hug, to make you explode into your wheezy, silent laugh, and to see the schoolboy twinkle in your eye as you deliver a punchline. I will miss you for the rest of my life.

One thought on “The Empty Chair.

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  1. I lost my father when I was 8 and I still think about him almost every day, 24 years later. Sometimes I still dream about him too. I feel very blessed that I got to spend 8 years of my life with him, but it took me a long time to get to this point. My youngest brother was only 18 months when he died and has no real concept of what a father is. It is a tribute to my mother that he turned out as balanced as he has. I am truly sorry for your loss. It is never easy and it will hurt for a long time. Just remember that it is ok to feel this way, for as long as you want. People always told me that daddy would have wanted me to get on with my life and he would have, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t take time to mourn and honour his memory. This is a beautiful piece you have written, a true tribute to your fathers memory. Stay strong 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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