Details of the #52essays2017 Challenge can be found on Vanessa Mártir's blog but, in brief, it's to write one personal essay a week.
I guess this is one of those tasks that falls naturally to a child when the cycle of nature works according to plan.
My father died last month at the great age of 87. He'd lived a very good and full life for most of those 87 years, but the last few were less than he - or any of his family - would have wanted them to be. Although he'd had heart troubles, his cause of death was end stage dementia.
As a family, we cared for him at home until virtually the end, only accepting the need for a professional care home when our bodies were so broken by the demands of caring for a large man that we had no option. Those final years were private though - we did not share our experiences with the outside world except in the most general of terms. After all, that experience can only be truly understood by those who've been there.
So my eulogy was for his private - family only - funeral. It was important that I encompass what was special about him to us - despite those difficult last years - and I was surprised how hard that proved to be. What sort of a writer could I be if I couldn't find the words for something so important? And then my brother posted this poem on Facebook:
Do not try to make me remember,
do not try to make me understand,
let me rest and know you're with me,
kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I'm confused beyond your concept,
I am sick and sad and lost,
all I know is that I need you
to be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me,
do not scold or curse my cry,
I can't help the way I'm acting,
can't be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
though the best of me is gone.
Please don't fail to stand beside me,
love me till my life is done.
And that's when I got it - it wasn't about honouring his memory, this was about honouring the man who'd we'd all been so willing to give up our time to care for. And then the words flowed - as did the tears when I read it. I'd like to suggest that it was an elegant moment, except there was snot and blubbing involved. But I owed him that ... and more, much more.