Sunday Times - - LIFE -

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

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