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Dealing With Grief: The Day My Father Died

People handle grief in their own ways. Some cry, some seek therapy and talk things out, some dwell on the memories to bring them peace, some keep to themselves, and some write things down. This blog is all about dealing with my grief as I remember the day my Father died. Once in a while, I revisit the memory, searching for some answers - a deeper understanding, perhaps.

I remember it as if it were yesterday.

The Day My Father Died

A woman dealing with grief

I had a dream the night it happened. I was in the living room of our home in Chinhoyi. My siblings and I were gathered around my father, listening to his never-ending stories. He had us in stitches about adventures around the world, especially his German business trips. Of course, Father liked to embellish his tales, but we did not mind—it made our time together more fun and memorable.

What astonished me in this dream was that all I could see were his legs dangling from the sofa but did not quite reach the floor. The harder I tried to zoom in on his face, the more obscure his countenance became. My father's voice sounded jovial, yet his words had a chilling echo to them. He spoke as if they were his last words - telling us to look after each other and always be there for one another.

As he continued to speak in the dream, I got more and more frustrated about not being able to see his face. Why could I not see his face? I could almost feel him turning towards me and smiling at one point, yet I could not see his face.

It had been a month since returning to my home in the UK from Zimbabwe. I had gone to see Father, for he had been taken ill. He had been unwell for a while, but when the call came, the situation sounded serious. If he was dying, I could not bear the thought of not seeing my father one last time. So, the decision to hop on the plane had been an easy one.

What I saw when I arrived in Zimbabwe was shocking. Father was but a walking skeleton. The man I knew had vanished. Father had tried to smile for me, to appear strong, but I could tell he was suffering. The sparkle in his eyes had gone. We sat down, and we talked. He told me things that he had never told me before. Things about his family history and where it had all begun. I wanted to ask why he had felt the need to tell me after all these years.‘But deep down, I knew it was my father’s way of making sure there would be nothing left untold.

In the days that followed, I did my best to feed father the best food I could find. As a nurse, I knew what was good for him, but he had since lost the will to live. He was no longer the fighter I knew him to be. So, the more I tried, the more frustrated he became. Nevertheless, he did try for me. Perhaps it was because he knew it wouldn’t be long before I was on the plane back to the United Kingdom.

When the day of my departure came, I could tell Father did not want to let me go. Moments after we knelt for our usual parting prayer and hugged each other goodbye, Father stood by the window to watch me leave. What he did next surprised me. He called me back into the house. Not once, but twice. The first time to ask me if I was happy. I was having problems of my own at the time, but I had the sense not to inflict more pain on him. The second time my father called me back into the house, he told me he wanted me to be happy and that he was proud of me. He also said he believed in me and that I should not let anything or anyone stop me from going after my dreams. I reassured him that everything was going to be OK. Finally, he let me go.

Back to the dream.

My frustration of not seeing my father's face continued until the wee hours of the morning when a phone call woke me up. The call had to be international - no one in the UK called me at 4 am. My heart dropped as I stared at the caller ID flashing on the screen. Then, placing the phone to my ear, I took a deep breath and muttered a quiet 'hello'. I knew exactly what I was about to hear.

‘Baba is no more.’ My brother said with a weak voice, and I could hear people wailing in the background. ‘OK,’ I said, putting the phone down. What happened next surprised me. I couldn’t cry. I had no tears, and numbness rippled through my body. All I wanted was to get home.

Within hours, I had booked a flight to Zimbabwe. And so, the journey to bury my father had begun.

Now, years later, the dream still haunts me. I'm not one to believe in dreams like that, but up to this day, I believe my father came to me in that dream that night to say goodbye. My heart jolts each time I think of him and our good times. So, as Father’s Day approaches, I want to celebrate my father. Even though he is no longer with me, he lives within my heart.

Dealing with grief is a personal journey. For me, memories of the day my Father died bring pain every time. And to everyone whose father is still around, here's a gentle reminder: Show them love and appreciation because when they are gone, they will leave a hole that can never be filled by anyone or anything.

God bless.

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