**I originally wrote this post this time last year. I wasn't quite ready to post it then, but I am now. I have tried not to change many of the words I wrote last year, except in the instances to clarify my meaning. I also finally added my "conclusion", which, while I knew what I wanted to say, I couldn't quite articulate last year. One of the reasons I couldn't post this last year was because I didn't want it to be taken as attention or pity seeking. Though I now understand that those reactions may be invoked, I hope that this post will achieve what I hope to achieve with this blog in general, and that is to relate to others.**
|I believe the last photo I have with my Dad. August 2007. London.|
Six years ago today, my father passed away. In the same manner that he didn't trouble anyone during his life, he passed away quietly at home. His death was mercifully swift in its own way, and I'm thankful it wasn't prolonged by a long hospital stay or the agonising uncertainty that accompanies his condition.
I wasn't there when it happened. By the time my brother and I arrived, we didn't get a chance to see him and say our good-byes.
I remember some parts of that day vividly. How I was grateful that my older brother told me that my father passed away and didn't allow us to wonder in vain whether we'd make it in time. How the only tears I shed were when I told Louis. How I emailed a detailed memo outlining all outstanding work to my boss at the time.
Anyway. There are some things that I regret in life. The regret that we're always told not to have in our lives. The regret that makes me think that, if I had a chance to go back now and change my actions, I would. One of those regrets is that I wish I'd spent more time with my dad. Even though I knew he wasn't well, I didn't value the time we had together. I wish I could say it was because of denial. That would suggest that I knew the gravity of the situation and couldn't deal with it. I wish I could say that. But I think I was too self-involved and chose not to register what everyone around me was saying...which meant I spent the little time we did ultimately have causing unnecessary problems to people I loved by lashing out at them and being selfish.
Whilst I was in Sana'a for my father's funeral, I didn't cry, and definitely not in front of anyone. Not once. I couldn't. Partly because I didn't want to be told it was normal to mourn or, alternatively, be told that this is the course of life and I shouldn't be sad. That my Dad is in a better place. But mainly because I felt too guilty.
I felt, I knew, that if I cried, everyone around me would think it was because I was mourning my father, and comment on what a loving daughter I was and / or how sad life is to take him away while my brother and I were comparatively young. But I knew the reasons for crying would be tainted by selfishness. Tainted by my regret for not showing him how much I loved and respected him. Of all of the missed opportunities. Or an accumulation of all the losses I felt in my life, related or not. My tears would not be pure and I didn't want to be perceived as a good daughter, when I wasn't. And so instead I preferred to remain dry eyed and just carry on.
I think of my father every day. I wish I had the maturity and sense, just common sense, to have sat and listened to him and discussed the significant and insignificant things in life. Death. So final. So heartbreakingly final.
Since the funeral I have shed many tears. And even if some are selfish, I allow them to fall. Ultimately, I know there is a sadness inside and an emptiness marking his spot.
Leading up to today, I've been thinking of legacies. My father left many legacies. Us, his children, and grandchildren. The foundations he built for Yemen. The school established in our village, Aghrab. The many lives he touched and the impact he made. I wonder how can I leave a legacy that will make him proud and maybe even continue the legacies he left us. I am not likely to. However, one theme shines through.
My father was always kind, never cruel and he always, always knew that his actions would have consequences, reactions. And he chose for those reactions to be positive, through ensuring that his actions were kind. My father, the man who, when he would have breakfast outside in the garden, would take tear pieces of bread to leave for the birds. And that is when I realised that his legacy was so beautifully simple.
That is it. That is how I can continue my father's legacy. I know there will be times when I will want to be cruel or put others down. But I will try. I will try.
Rest in peace Baba. We all miss you so much.