Now that we’re snuggling into winter clothes, lighting the wood-stove and wearing socks again, the summer break seems a dim and distant memory. For us it was a mixed-up time. We did some new things and went to some new places. We also did some of our comfortable, same-old. We stayed in the same cottage in Donegal that we’ve been to for the last few years. The cottage where Tony always found something to fix. Naturally. We visited our usual haunts – the beach, Nancy’s Yard (for the best chowder in the world) and of course the Rusty Nail pub. We had fun, laughed, sang loudly in the car and played several rounds of Rummikub and Scrabble. Without him. It was Ethan’s birthday while we were away, and although I had prepared myself for the actual day, it was the night before when I wrote Ethan’s card that the unanticipated tidal wave of sadness came. His name was missing. ‘Daddy’ was not written in the card this time.
It is this ‘missing’ which overwhelms my days now. At a gathering of friends, he is not there: to tell his stories, share his wisdom and lovingly wind everyone up. He is missing when I need to seek out his eyes for reassurance and shared knowing. He is missing when I need his words of encouragement and tenderness. And I am not complete without him.
He is missing from his place at the table and we are having to learn to be a different shape. A triangle, not a square. Unspoken, we find a new position. Who will be the first to the sofa and sit in his spot? Savouring that unexplained closeness to him. A measure of JD remains in the bottle. He’s not here to take it. I can’t bring myself to drink it. There it will always stay.