HE southern autumn is upon us. It was my dad’s favourite time of year. He revelled in the cool brightness of each blue-sky day. But since he died, some two years ago, the crispness of the season has made me ever more conscious of how much I mourn him. He died a long, slow death of cancer, which was highly traumatic for him, even though he kept up his courage until the very last seconds. I had not realised how harrowing it was for the rest of us, especially for my mother.
That trauma, which every one of us on this planet will experience, creates a deep cellular and emotional memory that those who are living with the death of a parent, or anyone close, tell me never really goes away. It haunts you at the most unexpected of times: when you are driving a car, loading the groceries into the boot, or just walking along the street. The grief comes sweeping through, often with a force that drives tears from your eyes and strangles the breath in your throat. You go on, of course — you have to — but now you have a constant companion, a doppelgänger of memory and emotion that erupts inside you at the strangest times.
It is a new way of life, a new identity that you have to live with. And yet, there is something necessary to living this way. At