It’d been days that I was waking up every morning with this pain in my chest and this grief in my heart, scared of hearing that you were gone…
Now, you are. And I don’t know why some people think I could find the words for this while no else could… I’m just like everybody else who’s experienced the loss of a loved one… I’m mourning.
A mourning sorrow is worse than sadness: it rips the heart out and only leaves a huge hole instead. It makes you feel so empty and so lost… It feels like broken bones and a void under your feet.
It’s just as if your life didn’t make that much sense anymore.
It’s deep, dark and bigger than you. It consumes you and makes you feel like time has stopped, like your body has ceased functioning, and as if you were crumbling from the inside.
It’s ugly. And it hurts.
And my words don’t come as easily and as nicely as they used to. They’re ghastly, clumsy, dark and dreadful. They somehow reflect my faith in justice and my optimism slowly fading, my eyes only seeing dark and my ears only hearing rudeness.
So I’m sorry if they don’t measure up to you, dad. You were not perfect, but you were the best dad ever and the greatest man in my life. You’ve always done everything for my brother and for me and for so many people, and I am so mad at those who publicly besmirched your name before you passed away.
I’m thinking of all the things we’ll never share anymore… from now on, we’ll never celebrate my birthday, my brother’s, yours and those of grandma and grandpa together; we’ll never get ready for Christmas, even though I know you did not enjoy it as much anymore and were only helping me make it so beautifully simple and special to see the stars light up my eyes; we’ll never experience the magic of 14 July together; and we’ll never again watch old French films during the holidays; …
I’m thinking of all these things you’ll never see and do… you’ll never see my brother graduate, you’ll never see me postgraduate (if I manage to get to that point because… please don’t be mad at me if I can’t do it, if I stop, or if – for once – I’m not strong enough); you’ll never walk me down the aisle when or if I ever get married; you’ll never become a grandfather (and oh my god, what a great one you would have been!); you’ll never meet some of the people who mean the most to me and you’ll never meet one of the dearest persons to my heart; ; you’ll never teach me the rest of all these things a father is supposed to teach his daughter; you’ll never come back to London – this city only you made me discover in the first place and which has lost some of its taste without you, just like this life in general – and you’ll never see this flat we’ve been in so much trouble getting and you were so eager to visit; and so many other things I simply can’t think about right now.
But I’m also thinking of what you would want for me. You would want me in London, studying what I’ve wanted to study for quite a while and living this Anglo-Saxon dream I’ve worked so hard for…
And I’ll try. That’s all I can promise you right now. I’ll try because I assume one can overcome this. Dumbledore himself said: ‘Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times. If one only remembers to turn on the light.’
To me, turning on the light means spending as much time as possible with my little brother and my closest friends, finding their arms and heart wide open, sharing words, thoughts, a nice cup of tea and a bit of chocolate, it’s trying to go to university and keeping on learning, reading and writing.
Turning on the light also means turning it on from the inside: feeling this little flame in my heart, a token of your presence, coming to warm me up when the outside world has become too cold.
Turning on the light means living and never forgetting.
You’ve reached the stars now. You’re one of them. The brightest of them all! But London is a big city and the sky here is not the sky of Burgundy. It’s all overcast and gray, without a single ounce of light, and I can’t see any stars from here…
This is how London makes me feel like most of the time now… as if none of this was real. And I can’t say if it’s good or bad: it only feels like a giant and very long nightmare I’m about to wake up from.
Although I won’t.
And so most days, I feel nothing. Nothing at all. Because I deny you’re gone or because I don’t want to conceptualize it or because I’m too far to just feel it. I don’t know, but I feel absolutely nothing.
As if I had become heartless…
But there are these other days like today when I feel all that has not been felt in days, and so… I’m feeling too much. I’m feeling so much it’s getting out of control and my heart is bursting into tears!
And I’ll be honest, that makes me kind of a mess…
On the day of your funeral, after I read an extract of the Book of Job which I hope made you feel at peace, the priest told us people would probably avoid mentioning you, out of fear of hurting us more, and that it would be our responsibility to talk about you…
But right now, this tends to always turn to an emotional disaster and I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this…
But don’t you fret, papa. Because I have grandma and grandpa, my brother, but above all, I have these very close friends, who – I know and I’m sure you know it too – will try to help me go through this.
I don’t know when or how but I believe they’ll help me get back on my feet one day and somehow bring me back to life.
They, too, are part of my ‘family’ now… It’s a tricky word, ‘family’, isn’t it? It is a word I have learnt to redefine over the years and of which I think I’m close to knowing the true meaning – a signification my middle school English teacher captured pretty well in those few words she addressed me the other day: ‘Death and treasons are a good opportunity to redefine words like « family » – your family is made of the people who are close to you, who know what to say, but also of the very few that you will choose to let in, because in hard times you just get rid of fake and superficial links.’
My middle school math teacher, who was one of your good friends, also sent me an email and, through the quote below, said something about how people are irreplaceable. No matter what we say…
And you, dad, are irreplaceable.
“ Autrefois j’ai participé à des entreprises collectives (…) et j’aimais la boutade «Nous sommes tous nécessaires, mais nul n’est indispensable».
Aujourd’hui que ma peau a perdu toute faculté d’adhérence et d’adhésion à quoi que ce soit, je crois au sens inverse de cette phrase. (…)
Chaque individu est un don, un ajout non nécessaire, qui ne vient pas combler une case vide, mais enrichir tous les êtres.
Une vie est cet excès de la nature, exagération retentissante d’une offre non nécessaire et pourtant irremplaçable.
Chacun est une pièce unique, exceptionnelle, dont la fin est un total gaspillage, sans remède, sans substitution, sans dédommagement.
Nul ne peut être remplacé.
Le monde avance à force de dons et de dissipations, de cadeaux retentissants et de brusques effacements, d’excès et de manque.
Ce n’est pas un système équilibré donner / avoir, il est fourni sans contre-partie. Nul n’est nécessaire, chacun est indispensable …” – Erri de Luca / Alzaia — Ed. Rivages, Bibliothèque Rivages, 1997(98) — p. 127, 128
I love you, papa… Always and forever.
Thank you for everything.