My Dad passed away 1 year ago, on March 6, 2014. He was in Montreal, Canada. I was in Doha, Qatar.
This piece is a re-take on a post I'd written last May, on the day before they buried my Dad on the North Shore of New Brunswick (almost 3 months later, on May 25, 2014).
For those of you who've been following along, my Dad passed away at the age of 84. Those who didn't know him might have called him an old man. To me, he was a beautiful man. He was a vibrant man. He was what the French call ''un bon vivant''. He knew how to sing, how to laugh, how to live, how to love, and he did it all so very well.
I miss him. Every day. But I've chosen to honour him by living my life. By singing corny songs to my Kiddo. By loving everything and everyone I can every single day. By laughing as much as I can.
I love him. I will always love him. But I'm trying not to cry for him anymore. Some days it's hard. But I tell myself I will LIVE for him, because he would have expected no less. If you're an expat, and you're grieving, know that you're not alone. It's hard, and it sucks, but carry on. LIVE for the person you LOVED. In the end, nothing else makes sense.
I wrote the poem below on May 24; writing it released me from the black cloud that had hovered above my head for the previous three months. It was the piece that released me from a lot of the pain and the powerlessness.
I removed the poem from my blog a few days after initially publishing it because it had caused some confusion; I'd also included a reference to Johnny Cash in the initial post, and readers thought the poem was a Johnny Cash tune. It's not.
The poem was a result of the following:
- Because of the extreme cold and frozen ground in Northern New Brunswick, burials cannot take place in the winter.
- As a result, coffins are placed in a shed-like structure, or holding vault, until the ground thaws enough to make it possible to dig.
- It is a process that extends a family's pain.
- My Dad was laid to rest on May 25, 2014.
- I couldn't be there for the burial.
- But I knew that no grave would ever hold him down.
This poem is for my Dad, who was there for every shit moment in my life. Who am I to assume he's not here for the shit moments when I miss him so much? Just 'cos I can't see him doesn't mean he's not right here. Right?
They say they'll bury you tomorrow,
now that snow has finally gone.
They think the earth will be forgiving,
as they shovel on the mound.
They've mistaken soul and spirit
as they drop into the ground.
The flesh that housed your being,
a soul without abound.
They think it makes a difference
that your frame they'll now entomb.
They think that's where you'll lay,
like a child within the womb.
They've mistaken hallowed earth
for a place that really matters.
When where you really lie,
is in our hearts all left in tatters.
Your presence it still lingers,
and your voice still rings so clear.
Your body will be buried,
but You, you are right here.
I won't be there to say farewell,
over here is where I'll be.
But you won't be there either.
You'll be right here next to me.
Je t'aime Papa.