Seven Years.

Dear Dad,

Seven years. My daughter has grown from a mewing infant into the tall, gregarious child I see before me as I type this. In the same time that her life has progressed, your life with us has been over.

There have been a million times I’ve wished for you, wanted you or needed to hear your voice. I have craved your guidance, your support and your love. I’ve wondered out loud if you know anything that’s happened and, sometimes, in my happiest and weakest moments, I’ve hoped you were watching. I’ll never know whether you are or not but I have felt my heart come home when I remember something you once told me.

One evening over books and tea, I had my feet tucked under yours as usual, we talked about life, the universe  and everything in-between. You expounded upon your own theory of how life carries on once someone passes on. To you, people carry on through their genes and the funny quirks we all inherit from our parents. You said it was like your DNA left a trail that muted over time, but was always there. Even when generations have passed and children grown, the faintest trace of your genetic code lives on within the generations beyond you.

It is this very theory, and the thinking over it, that’s drawn me to a place where I am okay today. It’s strange that as the years have passed, I’ve seen your theory come true. And that evidence has given me comfort.

When you were ill, you would keep a picture of one of my baby scans next to you, at home or in the hospital. You’d refer to Cam as “your little friend”, and you’d tell me that she was the future and that’s all I needed to worry about. We’d talk about it and I’d tell you I was scared of this parenting notion. You’d remind me that a child needs four things – good health, infinite love, the ability to trust and the opportunity to learn. I’d doubted myself then but, you believed in me. You believed in my motherhood more than I did and you trusted that I’d do it with love. You taught me what you could and told me to go with my gut when I didn’t know what to do.

I have missed you most in my motherhood. I have missed you most in my family life. The family life I have been lucky enough to be able to build, with love and memories being made every day. It is those times, over dinner or when the house is full of people and sounds suspiciously like a Jenkin household, that I wish you and Mom could witness. I wish you could be there and laugh with me. Smile with me. Squeeze my hand and tell me you see it and it’s wonderful. Marvel with me over how I got so ridiculously lucky to find love in a man who loves Cam and I as though we were made for it. Laugh with me over the times I’ve been confused and wound myself up inside my head. Berate me for my sometimes grumpiness and celebrate with me every time I got it right.

But there again, I find my comfort. I see you carry on in the expressions of my child. I see your toes in her toes. They’re the same shape. I see your hands in her hands. And that mischievous glint in her eye just before she pulls a prank on me (this happens often), that glint is the very same one you’d have when you were pulling my proverbial leg.

They say it takes twenty-one days to break a habit, thirteen months to grieve and seven years to digest chewing gum. Whether any of that is true, I have no idea. It is also said that it takes seven years to work through the loss of a loved one. Whether or not this is true, I don’t really care.

But what I do know is this… In these seven years, I have missed you. In these seven years I have built my life up, taken it all down, started again and made it better. In these seven years I have grown, been anxious, been scared, been amazed and been sad. In these seven years I have learnt friendship and trust. In these seven years I have hurtled through loss and fallen into love. In these seven years I have missed your speeches and pored over finding the right words to say them myself. In these seven years I have been able to move beyond feeling the loss of you, to feeling the part of you that carries on. In these seven years I have learnt to see it when it’s in front of me, and find it when it hides. In these seven years I have discovered the parts of me that are so typically you, and seen those same characteristics of you reflected in my siblings.

In these seven years I have seen you carry on in the eyes of my daughter and I’ve noticed a spark of you in my nieces. I’ve seen your tenacity in myself and I’ve felt the infinite love of a parent in my own heart. In these seven years I’ve learnt that the cornerstone of being a parent is that infinite love. In these seven years I’ve learnt that the cornerstone of being myself is found in the places and spaces where I am ultimately much like you.


So Dadadadadad, I guess what I’m saying is…


Your theory is correct.


And my life is the proof.


Thank you.

Random fact for the day.

Here’s my random fact for the day. I’m not a touchy-feely person. Yes, I am emotionally intense, and I get insanely passionate about things but, at the face of insincerity or glib platitudes, I steel up. I hit the “monosyllabic route”, as a colleague of mine says.

Yes, I admit though, I am thoroughly emotional. Everything rides on how I feel about something, and I am not afraid to express that emotion. I’ve learnt, over the years, to control my temper and channel my energies into positive emotions, as best I can. I’m still prone to the occasional throwmyshoesgetyourheadoutofmyway rages, though. And, with those, you just need to let me be, blow my steam and it passes soon enough.

The thing is, though, I do not respond well to insincerity. I think you know what I mean – when someone is constantly woe-bedrivelled (I love that word, I made it up!) or so insanely set on being positive that it falls flat on its face and comes across as a desperate, pathetic attempt to grin, when all you want to do is sob.

I prefer honest emotion. I don’t enjoy anger, and I loathe confrontation. But, give it to me if you must, and I will deal with it in my own way.

In all honesty, there are actually very few things I am passionate about – justice, honesty, love, family and friends. Money, fame, whatever you want to call it – I don’t give a flying kahoot about. I’m less likely to respond to you emotionally if you care about different things to me. Sorry, I will try and empathise but, please, don’t come to me with a “ohmyword, my fake boob fell off and I don’t have money to fix it because I just bought these Prada shoes” problem. It won’t get you far. Seriously.

Yesterday, I had a bleak moment. I was watching my kid swim (and if you know me, you’ll know how big that is in my world) and I wished for my parents. I spoke about it online, and I was pretty awed. I don’t ever want pity that I don’t have my parents with me anymore. I can’t stand pity because it stamps its foot on my pride. I don’t want to be told “I know how that feels” by someone who still has their parents (and, sorry, but if you haven’t been through the loss of your parent/s, you, buddy, have NO cottonpicking clue how it feels, but thanks for your thoughts).

The grief experience, especially in relation to family (and by family, I also mean pets, because our animals are our family!) is not a journey that starts and ends. It is a pathway that enters your life at some, usually unexpected crossroads and then adjoins your life’s path, for the rest of it. It does not leave, it does not deviate and it does not end. It simply becomes part of the hills and valleys you travel through life. Sometimes, you don’t see it at all, and other times, it arrives in your face and it’s all you can see for miles around. The grief experience immutably becomes a part of you, and it’s not something you cope with – it just is.

Yesterday was one of those days where all I could see was my own grief, and child-like longing for my parents. So, I took out letters my parents had written to me (I am most humbly blessed by the fact that my parents wrote letters to me. I endeavour to do this very thing for my daughter. It is one of the reasons I began to blog), and read bits of them.

So many things jumped out at me. So many things that they’d written to me, as a child, as a teenager, as an adult. So many of them so glaringly relevant to my life as it is now. Whilst I miss their voices and their wisdom at the table across from me, I have it in the letters and emails they sent or gave me throughout my life.

I see so much of my mother in myself now. And I longingly wish that my father had been able to meet Shmooshy. I know, without a doubt, he would’ve adored him.

I realised, again yesterday, that all they lived for, honestly, were the same values and principles I find in myself. They are the same morals and intricacies of life that I work very hard to pass on to my daughter. Sometimes I wish they were here to help me explain them to her – I think in some ways they’d have been better at it. Like how it was often easier to do my homework with my dad than it was my mom because he had the patience to explain things in a way that worked for me, and my mom was better to talk to about real-life stuff, because she always put the person first, and the situation second.

It’s funny how I realised that that exact situation is about to start playing out in my life too, as Shmooshy and I have decided that he and my brilliant child will do her homework together, whilst I make dinner. I realised, fully, yesterday, how terrifically lucky I am to have him, to help us all along in life.

I wished for my parents to see this, to know this. To experience the joy of their grandchildren. The familiar noise and crazy, constant conversation. I wished for them to witness the creation of a family of my very own, founded solidly on love and peppered with honest conversation.

I’m thankful for the emotional paradigm they raised me within, because without it I would feel soul-less. I just miss them, especially on big days, birthdays and as I’m about to take a big life step. I’d love for my dad to just squeeze my hand and say “are you sure?” in that way I know only he can. I’d love to fight with my mom about some life decision I’ve made, just so that I can be totally sure it’s what I want. I’d swoon over the idea of a family lunch, that would probably extend into the evening and be wrapped up with dinner and lying out on the lawn under the stars. I wish I could just show them things that I know they would be proud of. Much of that emotion comes from the fact that I secretly worry I did not make them proud enough, but I know that that’s just emotional rubbish of my own.

With grief, you can never expect it, be prepared for it. It just is. It rears up, it gears down, but it will always be with me.

a tweet that made my week

i am so tired. i’ve been up since 4am.

i have done some pretty seemingly impossible things today.

i have been cursed and blessed over and over again, in circles and squares.

i have been crying. i am sad for the loss of two great people today.

i am worried. for the future, for the past, for the inbetween.

i have been smiled at, laughed at and yelled at.

i have fought with shite internet connections all day.

i have listened whilst many people grieve over people lost, fallen souls and ended hopes.

i have grieved for some of my own. i am clean of them now.

i have whined a lot and my flatmate from heaven has held my hand, even when she runs out of fingers to grasp on to.

my bossperson believed in me. even got down on the floor and bowed at my feet for making the impossible possible.

my friends have spoken and been there.

my mother understood how busy i was and yet, that i wanted so badly to listen and pray for the lost hippo. (yes, there’s a lost hippo. he’s on a beach. i hope he’s there for a holiday).

i am okay.

i know i did good things today. with faith, diligence and love.

but, this twitter,
this twitter made my week.

From: Ok. Just so you all know and there is no confusion: Cath Jenkin is a f&^%ing goddess. Disagree ? No one cares, you’re an idiot