I guess that’s why they call it the blues…

We sat around the table on Christmas Day and listened as this came onto my playlist. Rob and I both started crying, knowing what was ahead us the next few weeks as we left the next day up to the farm to spend some time with Rob’s Dad. We knew that we were getting close to the end and that the time ahead of us would be precious as it would be one of the last.

Don’t wish it away
Don’t look at it like it’s forever

We headed up to the farm and were confronted with Alan who was really sick. Much sicker than we had seen him, and so frail, a shell of the man that he was as the cancer took hold of his body.

We spent days together, sitting by his side in bed, or in his chair as he came in and out of consciousness, smiling for the girls, his eyes catching yours to try and say all the things that could no longer be said. A squeeze of his hand, Rob sitting in his room for hours reading his book, playing his Dad’s favourite albums and songs throughout his last few hours. Maggie would climb into bed between Sue and Alan, not a fear or worry about it, a ray of pure sunshine and life in moments of death and sadness. He had a visit from all of his grandchildren, his sons, his nieces and brother in law all in the last few days. He was at home in his own bed, in his home, surrounded by life that went on around him, comforted I am certain that this would all continue on, whether he was here or not. There was laughter, loud talking and laughing, barking dogs, singing, tears.

The afternoon that he died, Rob, Maggie and I were swimming, Rob left to go quickly, pulled by something to get up there and within 10 minutes he was gone. The light was perfect, a hot summery afternoon, black swans gliding down the river, eagles soaring above. One minute here, a whole life so full, gone. A true privilege of life to be able to witness. So bittersweet, we all truly know the meaning of this word now.

We all got to sit with him after he was gone. To cry, to talk, to say thank you to say goodbye. All the girls spent their own time with him, Maggie unsure as she would only go and see him once we determined for him that he would in fact, be intact now that he was dead “Mum will his head still be on?”. It was such a comfort having him still there, still with us. Peaceful. Shocking that he was so unlike him, our bodies are truly just a vessel once that spirit has gone from us.

Rob and I clutched onto each other more than we ever have. Like we did when we first met, holding onto each other and our love like it was the most important thing in the world because one day it won’t be there and while we have it we must nurture, cherish and protect it. Nothing else matters because we have each other, we love each other, we have a family. It’s been a powerful time of reconnection again.

The days when the girls weren’t with us we had time to grieve and laugh and cry together, I will never forget those days of making decisions, trawling through lifetimes of photos of memories, of stories. Smoking joints, choosing songs and poems for the service, drinking wine, crying and being together without the pull of motherhood or anyone else’s needs demanding of me. Our family of adults and friends shared meals and stories and love unlike anything I can ever remember, it will stay with me forever in my heart. Reminding me of the things that matter: people, love, living life to the full. The eagles soared above, the sun set and rose and the cows needed to be fed. I will never be able to repay my sister for giving us this time and for looking after my girls the way that she did.

Once the girls were back we settled back into a family routine, they distracted, we swam, we cried and shared stories. Rob’s funny stories that made us all laugh so much – my God that man made us all laugh. The love bubble we were in felt by all of us as we got closer to the funeral.

After the service when we walked out of the chapel Maggie clung into my dress, pulling me down, so quiet, so heavy. I went down and sat with her as she asked if now would Nala would be coming back. When I explained that he wouldn’t be, he really is gone now, the deep sadness I felt in her 4 year old heart broke mine in two. Not a loud cry merely quiet heaves of her chest as it sunk in. She understood too. It’s just so sad and so big there’s no noise loud enough for it.

The night of the wake sitting on the verandah the same song came on again, two weeks since the first time we listened to it Christmas Day.

Between you and me I could honestly say
That things can only get better

We sat together around that table singing our hearts out to the skies to our beloved Alan who we had lost: A husband, a Dad, a Father in law, a Grandfather, an uncle, a friend

Wait on me girl
Cry in the night if it helps
But more than ever I simply love you
More than I love life itself

We danced and swam under the moonlight, our own farewell that was loud and messy and filled with tears and so much love.

When we left yesterday morning and I told Maggie it was time to go and say goodbye to Sue, I watched her go and hug her and then turn around and blow a kiss and throw it up into the sky. For Nala she said. No longer here but with us wherever the moon shines, where the sun rises and the black swans glide.

Comments

  1. Beautiful Beth Reminds me so much of when my father passed two years ago .Tears for your Nala and mine .

  2. Kirsty Daniel says

    Tears, for you and my own. My own father only recently passed away and it’s so raw. Thank you for using the words I can’t find to describe the grief

  3. 💙

  4. Brings back so mamy memories from just only 15 weeks ago when i lost my mum… much love to you all.

  5. My sympathies to you and yours Beth. You write so movingly and the love you had for your father in law and for all your family is beautiful to behold. Take good care, x

  6. The most beautiful, bittersweet words, Beth. My heart is so heavy for you.

  7. Beautiful, thank you ❤️

  8. Beautifully written Beth. Bought me to tears family really is everything. So very sorry for your families loss. X

  9. Such beautiful words, Beth💙

  10. So beautiful. What a privilege for you to be there as he left this earth.

    I have been singing that song constantly for the past three weeks, so much so Darbs asked why I always sing that song.

    Sending you all much love.

  11. Leonie Aland says

    Lovely heartfelt words. So glad your father in law had so many people with him who loved him at the end of his life’s journey.

  12. Jude Hepehi says

    Just beautiful beyond words, Beth. My Mum passed away at home too with me by her side. So heartbreaking and so precious. Thank you for sharing, I love that song too ❤

  13. Well I just howled then whole time reading that. Sending you all lots of love xoxo

  14. This is incredibly beautiful Beth; so well-written and powerful. I am genuinely moved by your words and thank you for sharing your experience. My sincere condolences to Rob and all your family. xx

  15. Michelle Pepi says

    Beautiful, just beautiful Beth. It’s incredible the way kids feel & express their thoughts. So raw & innocent yet usually absolutely bang in point.
    Much love to you all. xx

  16. What a beautiful, bitttersweet piece of writing . Much love xx

  17. Achingly beautiful, sorrowful and joyful, that’s love.

    That’s in every word here, reflecting all the emotions you’ve felt and are feeling.

    May the connectedness last and deepen your love for each other Beth.

  18. oh Beth, such a beautiful tribute to your father in law, your family and to love.
    cheers Kate

  19. This was written from your heart. What a privilege it was to have him in your lives and I know he would have felt the same about you. I am commenting this through tears in my eyes. My heart breaks for you all. I had a little YEP moment when you said about the song. When my parents passed away, many years ago, in the same week but different days, as we were driving home after each wake, the same song came on the radio, same song, different days, it was freaky but now when I hear it I can feel them around me. He is still with you all, just in a different form. As long as he is in your heart, he is there. Hugs to all of you.

  20. Beautiful, heart felt and sorrowful words in between the love stories and the history. Your writing is just the best for these times. Thank you for sharing with us and continuing to tell us how it is…life, love, death, grief, sorrow, happiness, life…family & friends.

    Sending all my love to Rob, his family and of course to you and the girls.
    Denyse x

  21. Beautifully written. I’m in tears for you, and for your family. And for my own losses, that are obviously still so close beneath the surface.
    Sending big hugs.

  22. And there in lies your talent, your incredible ability to share your story at such a heart wrenching time. Thank you Beth, big virtual hugs 🤗

  23. ❤️ Beth, I’m so truly sorry……..while reading your beautiful words all I could think was… “Maggie, thank goodness you’re here” 🥰

  24. I avoid this kind of thing as I inevitably end up a sobbing mess. We lost my mother in law, my Dad and Grandad to cancer, all in the space of 18 months. Your account of your children reminded me of my daughter at my Dads wake, found lying on the guest bed singing, throwing her arms to the ceiling, singing to her Ouma and Poppy. I’ve found you learn to live with the grief, but never get over it. You just end up changed forever. I am sorry for and your family’s loss, and thank you for sharing.

  25. Beautiful Beth.

    Life completely changes when you loose someone.

    Take care of yourself and hold everyone tight 😘

  26. Hoo boy. Beautiful post, Beth. So sorry to hear about your loss. Lots of love to you all xx

  27. Hi Beth such beautiful and poignant writing. Perhaps the gift that comes from all this pain is the love and reconnection – and what a gift. Am sending you much love. I have been where you are, different for everyone, and life goes on – never quite the same but with a heightened appreciation for what truly really matters. Xx

  28. Beautiful, heartbreaking and heartfelt words and a wonderful tribute to a good man…It’s so hard losing someone who was loved so much and by so many. I am truly sorry for the loss of your beloved Alan. Xo

  29. The biggest lump in my throat. Thanks for sharing these beautiful words with us.

  30. Dianne Thomas says

    Oh Beth, how wonderful that you could share this together. Without your family , you & Rob would have been lost. The girls will always remember him & know how much he meant to all of you. Huge hugs for you & your family , he will be truly missed by you all …

  31. We lost my father-in-law to cancer 4 months ago and it is still so raw and so hard. Your post today was beautiful. Sending you love and strength Beth. Xx

  32. Oh god, I have just cried more than I have in a long time. Hard, quiet sobbing tears. My heart goes out to you, Rob, Sue and the girls. My Nala Rest In Peace knowing you all think of him daily. Sleep peacefully lovely lady, you have done him justice.

  33. Oh Beth, it’s such a journey this gift of life isn’t it – it’s a circle, and one day all of us will be mere vessels as you said with our souls no longer there. It’s that, which makes me believe, still, in something, that gives me moments of peace when I do occasionally get to Mass. Love and hugs to you all😘💙🙏🏾

  34. What a lovely post.

  35. It’s so beautiful Beth how you and your family are navigating this. Together. Emotions raw and allowed. Not hidden or putting on a brave face. I feel my own mam will leave us this year and I want to give her the dignity and peace that your Alan had. I am terrified that we will be swallowed up by a hospital system where we are just a number surrounded by harsh lights and noise. Old people on trolleys in corridors as the hospital system in Ireland can’t cope with the volume of parties.
    I’m afraid for my 6 and 4 year olds and how honest to be with them and how much to let them see. I pray I can be as open and honest and raw in front of them as you have been. You and your family are an inspiration. Sending much love x

  36. This is the most beautiful, heartfelt, emotional thing you’ve ever shared Beth.
    All my love to you & your fam xx

  37. This is the most beautiful, heartfelt, emotional thing you’ve ever shared Beth. What a send a off you were able to give Alan. And what an amazing family you are surrounded by.
    All my love to you & your fam xx

  38. I lost my beautiful Dad right before Christmas and this has me bawling. I’ve never known such a sadness or hollowness and it breaks my heart to see the pain of my children who adored their grandfather. I can resonate with everything you’ve said in this beautiful piece. X

  39. Thankyou for sharing such beautiful and moving words. Resonated with me and also reminded me of what’s important. Have been thinking of you and your family, big love x

  40. 💙
    May you find peace in his peace and your memories of better times shine through.

  41. very poignant beth!
    sorry for your loss.
    he would have been happy to be with the ones he loved.
    much love mxx

  42. So sad to read, beautiful and special at the same time.

  43. Louise Thomsen says

    Beth, this was so painfully raw and yet so beautiful at the same time. I’m feeling so much emotion for you and your beautiful family. The words you spoke about the love between you, Rob and your children during this time is so strong I can feel it. Sending you and your family so much love.
    Lou x

  44. Alan would be well pleased with all of that….so beautiful.

  45. So sad for you all but so glad you were able to be together and support each other. Life is precious, every single moment. May he rest in heavenly peace xx

  46. It does get gradually easier Beth, with ups and downs. However you are feeling now is the right way to be feeling. I found a book called “Coping with Grief” by Mal and Dianne McKissock really useful, for what its worth. Take care of yourself, grief is exhausting especially when you are also caring for a family who are all grieving.

  47. Beth, such a sweet story of goodbyes. So sorry for your loss. We went through this with my father in law many years ago. The laughter and life in my small children helped ease our sorrow and showed us that life does go on.

  48. Valerie Borovik says

    I’m welling up here, Beth. So sorry for your loss. Maggie sounds like a true sweetheart.

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