At the end of her first year without him, our London Marathon runner Anne reflects on her father's death at our Duchess of Kent Hospice.
It’s been a year.
A year without hearing Dad whistling, or seeing him cycling off to get the paper, or hearing him armchair-commentating on the rugby, the cricket and the tennis.
A year in which his granddaughter cheerily asked several times: “When’s Grandad coming back?”
A year without ringing him to tell him about his grandchildren’s achievements, new schools, exam results; a year in which his grandson fell silent on a plane and quietly confided: “I’m looking for Grandad in the clouds.”
"Filling the dad-shaped hole"
But it’s also been a year filled with energy, with love, life and hope; with friendship, community and great kindness as friends and neighbours help fill the husband-shaped gap for Mum and the Dad-shaped hole for us.
The flowers Dad planted still grow, resilient and strong; the birds still refresh themselves in the bird bath he liked to watch.
Life’s vital heartbeat goes on as if nothing has changed, and we’re quickly swept up in it.
How do I mark this anniversary?
The English language has no word – indeed, no real etiquette – as to what to do on an anniversary of a loved one dying. It’s natural, though, that you take time to reflect.
For our family, those dark January days were also filled with light and warmth as Dad was cared for in the Duchess of Kent Sue Ryder Hospice.
Freed from the worry of providing care at home, there was laughter, idle chit-chat, and the time my sister very nearly set off the hospice’s smoke alarm by attempting to light Mum’s birthday cake in Dad’s room. The thought of the poor nurses desperately getting all the patients out of the building for a birthday cake nearly finished us all off.
So back to the word, or words, for the anniversary of a loved one’s death.
Whether it’s time for quiet reflection, or a rip-roaring, champagne-filled day of remembrance and exuberance, anything goes.
Be happy, be thankful and be hopeful: it’s everything they would want you to be.
This blog post was originally published at http://justamumwithtrainers.wordpress.com.