Goodbye

I cannot think that I have ever been this exhausted. My entire body aches as if I had done a marathon beyond my limits of fitness. I woke up this morning in a strange, surreal space of disbelief and detachment. I knew I just had to get through this day…
My Dad did not want a funeral, yet he instructed his friend Pastor Phil that he should officiate, in jeans, tekkies and a t-shirt. We tried everything in our power to not make it a funeral but a celebration of his life.
Sitting around was the worst, waiting waiting waiting. Eventually I could not face making another pot of tea and buried myself in the kitchen to prepare salads for the after party with the family, after the official after party.
At 14h10 my sister and I went to the Barry church in Witsand to start preparing. The first friends were already there for the 15h00 celebration. We set up the slideshow, lit the candles, I practiced the hymn on the little keyboard for the last time. And then the people started filing in…I could not believe my eyes, nor have wished for a more loving, supportive, affirming show of respect for my Dad. Some friends I have not seen for more than 30 years, old school friends, family friends. People whom my Dad played golf with, people he worked with, community members. And some dear, dear friends of mine who have never met my Father!
I was standing just inside the door of the church hiding from the fierce afternoon sun. When I looked up a group of bikers pulled into the church yard, gently revving their machines. That would have made the old man smile! The church was packed to capacity – some people were standing at the back.
“It takes a village to raise a child”. This is my village, my people. These are the people who shaped the world in which I grew up, for better or for worse. At 54 I can look back (and now at them sitting in front of me), and smile at the power of connections. Of belonging. Of caring – enough to show up on a Wednesday afternoon at 15h00 to support us in our grief and to show their last respects to my Dad.
And yet, it all feels as if it is happening on a different plane, like watching a movie. A subtitled movie where neither the language spoken nor the subtitles make any sense. I am not part of this. I feel strangely aloof, distant from my own grief.
Several swigs of Rescue Remedy help me through my eulogy. I stand firm, and only when I talk about the way my Dad cared for my Mom does my voice tremble. I dreaded this moment, feared it! And yet, I know, having seen my Father die, being with him as his last breaths slowly, gently passed through his lips, gave me the strength to talk about him today in a calm and serene way.
Somehow I now feel a little bit grown up, no longer having a Father. I play the organ for the last hymn, “Our Father who art in heaven”. I don’t believe in heaven. Yet, I know that my Father’s Spirit is out there. Reconnecting on a different, altered state to everyone and everything around us. I know he has transitioned to another level of Being. And I hope he sends me a message about this…
We have the tea, then the drinks, then the braai. And through all this I feel this strange detachment, as if a part of me has been severed. Not in pain, nor in agony. I only feel a deep, sacred, peaceful silence.
As we walk out of the church, the undertaker stands outside holding my Father’s ashes and a bunch of flowers. The moment cannot be more surreal. The bikers are now all on their bikes revving up a big noise for the Old Man. My dear Mom gives them the perfect royal wave. (I know she hates the sound of a revving bike!) Stoic. As upright as the arthritis will allow her, making sure her hair is neat, she clasps my arm for balance and support. Her rock is gone.
And now I am lying in bed listening to the ocean. The dogs are curled up. The waves ebb and flow with the springtide. We are all One, Divinely connected. For now and forever.

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