Shame on you if you fool me once, shame on me if you fool me twice...
A new personal blog series exploring the highs and lows of the conversations you have at brunch.
This is Part 9 of a series. For a recap, click here.
The day after saying goodbye to my dad for for the final time, my partner, sister and I went to the dog beach. No one is sad at the dog beach, that's just science. We watched my beautiful rescue dog Maple smile and grin from ear to ear as she splashed about, took some deep breaths, and tried our best to not break down.
I cannot really remember the days or weeks afterward.
I know I called a friend who thankfully started a phone tree so I didn't have to.
I know so, so many friends and family sent packages, food, flowers and condolences.
I know a lot of time was spent on the logistics of the funeral - the guest list (which had to be capped during restrictions), the food, the speeches, the precision.
I know we were lucky that even though they had been divorced almost 30 years, that mum totally took charge of the whole thing.
I know all my friends showed up, that the theme was rock n' roll t-shirts, that we played cool songs and told funny stories and played videos and photo reels.
I know I couldn't help but think, man. We are all going to have to do this. Everyone, over and over again.
I know it was still desperately sad for my cousins who had just lost their mum (and my auntie) only three months prior. Just like that, a generation was gone.
I know that I just threw myself back into my new job, wedding planning (with my dad's blessing to please go ahead), and keeping super busy.
The thing with grief is, it's not just on a certain day, like their birthday or Father's Day. It doesn't really work like that.
I would drive along and tell myself he was just sitting watching telly in his apartment. It is somewhat easier if you don't live with the person to convince yourself as such. And lots of the time I was perfectly fine.
But then something would happen, like I'd be in the bottle shop with my partner and a song would come on that I thought of dad singing and dancing along to in the car, and I'd walk out crying. Or I'd open the freezer and see some food he made me, or watch a movie he had always loved, and start sobbing.
For a while afterward, this would always make me cry. But we did make a rule pretty early on that my Dad and his memory would not be a stranger in my house. There are photos, we talk about him all the time, make jokes, say he would have loved this or that. We are a lucky generation who can take so many photos and videos for memories which I look at often. I filmed him cooking my favourite recipes of his, took last photos and memories. I really encourage people to do this - over time you can forget how people spoke or acted, and I hope my kids can see it some day.
The times I find I miss him most is not his birthday, or the anniversary of his passing, or when I look at a picture.
It's in the car, when it's just me, alone with my thoughts, when I normally would have given him a call to talk shit about Fashion Police, Kanye West, work, movies, whatever. They were short chats, a few minutes at most. But I miss them a lot.
If you do know someone who has lost someone and some time has passed, I will say something a friend said to me - don't worry that bringing up a memory will upset them, or make them think about it. Whenever someone brings up something about my dad, I love it, and want more.
Like the fact that he wore the same cowboy costume to every theme party, that he stood on a chair to introduce himself to my 6"3 partner, that he'd pick up five kids from primary school and shove us in the back and take us to the pool. We all love knowing that you have treasured memories of people we love, too.
I mean, spoiler alert.
As you can probably guess from the title, image and description... yep, our big wedding got cancelled, again, with only four weeks notice, again.
In truth, I was a little relieved. Not at not being able to celebrate - but of letting go of the stress and anxiety. When we rebooked our wedding for August 2021, although it seems so dumb in hindsight, it was at a time when things were opening up. We had already attended two weddings, booked a new honeymoon exploring Broome and the Kimberley Region (overseas was still off limits), and there were no cases of Covid in our state. But every day was unnerving.
Like clockwork, we would watch for the Premier to come on TV to tell us the daily stats, and if numbers climbed, my heart raced, wondering what it meant for the wedding. Would 50 people have to be cut to 30? Would people be allowed to dance? Would we need to wear face masks? Would my mum even come? Would it be warm enough? Would this be a super spreader event on TV? Would the whole thing be cancelled on the day, leaving us thousands of dollars out of pocket?
So, when a 'snap lockdown' (Melburnians: LOL!) was called around July or August, we knew it wasn't to be.
Again, we had mailed out over 200 Save The Dates to people who needed to be notified it was over.
Again, we had to cancel the ceremony, the reception, the catering, the dressmaker, the florist, the bus, the band, the lighting, the photographer, the hotel, the decorators and staff. Again, we were devastated, but it was what it was.
It was horrible for all the suppliers too, some of whom never recovered.
Looking back now, I'm glad we didn't do it then. It was winter, no interstate or overseas friends and family would have come, my Dad had just passed, and everyone was scared of Covid. It just wasn't the time. Instead of saying 'hold on,' this time, the wedding was officially cancelled. We now had zero intention of having a wedding while Covid could still ruin the day, however long that was going to take.
Instead, we did the only thing we really could do on the day, round 2. We got ourselves dressed up, bought bougie food and drinks (which we honestly never do, we needed assistance...) and had a picnic the two of us on our front yard. Our friends and family were embarrassingly generous, and sent us lots of expensive hampers and gifts.
At the time, even though life had been shit, we felt we weren't in the worst of it, and we knew that. The pandemic was killing people all over the world, businesses were closing, people couldn't pay rent or mortgages, others were isolated beyond belief. We had our place, we had our dog, and we had each other. So while we were allowed to grieve the day and feel sad, we took a breathe, had some margaritas, and toasted to the next one. It was going to be okay.
We then had a think about what we could do instead. Two weddings cancelled, two family deaths, two jobs lost, no renovations allowed, and all holidays suspended. I was now 32 years old, and I was over the idea of doing things 'in order.'
"Let's try for a baby," I said.
Thank you to Molly Sweeney who provided a lot of help and inspiration during this time.
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