One day when i was six, i got off the bus and walked the two blocks from where the bus dropped me off to my then home. I went up the two flights, and took a right to where our apartment was, i found the door open.
I walked into our apartment and found random people dressed in black sitting everywhere, there were chairs laid out where there usually weren't any chairs, all there was were chairs and women dressed in black. I recognized one as a friend of my grandmother, she nodded at me and gave me a faint smile. Confused i walked into my mother's room, the one she shared with my grandmother, and i found them both sitting on the floor with their back to the closet.
They were both in black as well, and my mother had both her hands on her head. Our eyes met, she looked at my sister who was also in the room, and motioned for her to take me into the balcony.
I went into the balcony with my sister, who told me in so many words that our father had died. She repeated this several times, and asked me if i understood, i nodded affirmatively, she hugged me, i think i hugged her back and we went back into the room.
My sister nods at my mother, i see my mother again on the floor with her hands on her head. She is not crying, i note that, and that is all i remember from that scene.
Next scene i remember my mother is taking me and my sister to her aunt's house, she leaves us there for what feels like a month or so, i remember skipping school for the while. I remember that the whole experience was weird and surreal. I don't remember crying or feeling any sadness of loss. The only disturbing thought is the image in my head of my mother on the floor, so very unlike her, looking as what i now understand as to be broken.
Everyone was overtly nice to me, and i didn't really get it. At the age of twelve i then realize that from the day that happened i was completely convinced that my father was pulling a stunt. He was living abroad at the time and he was close to moving back home, so to make his coming home extra special he pretended to have died, so that we would be really really surprised when he came back.
Aren't children's minds scary?
From age six to twelve there was to be no mention of my father in the house. I tried once, but everyone broke down and started crying, i decided against getting information from there on, it set the house on fire, so i went without.
Every year we would go visit where he is buried, somewhere in upper Egypt where the rest of his family still resides. At twelve i asked if i could go along as well, surprisingly my mom agreed, and i remember going with them to the family house, then leaving by car, taking a boat across a lake or river to a cemetery.
His tombstone was huge, and i remember being confused about that, wasn't it supposed to be on the level of the earth and humble?
I recited what i knew was appropriate, watched my mother horribly solemn, and waited for them to be ready to go.
I remember that on the boat ride back i felt the need to make things lighter, so i started telling my sister jokes. My sister and i were still friends back then. I knew this would lighten my mothers heart, and i saw her look at us from across the boat with a smile in her eyes.
That was the year i decided to admit to myself that my father had died. Ironically, we never went to visit him again, my mother couldn't do it anymore.
I still didn't cry, i felt no self pity for having lost a father at any point. I had too much pride and developed an allergy to sympathy, whenever someone would ask about him i would say he passed away, i would get the painful twisted face, and i would immediately say, hey no worries, that was ages ago! And i meant it.
I always had so much going for me, i was smart, got good grades easily, loved sports, was popular at school, always had great friends, and life went on. I never grieved the loss, i didn't feel the need to.
Then on my 19th birthday, my best friend of 15 years died in a car crash.
There is no describing how badly i took that, I remember having no grip and dropping things, i remember having no control over my tear glands for several months. I was a happy 18 year old whose only concern was partying on the weekend and saving up for trips with my friends, then came this, it was a blow to my priorities, to my perception of life.
That time, the few weeks and months after the car crash, was the first time my mother talked to me about my father. I learnt how he died, what he was like, what similarities i had to him, how wonderful he was, etc etc..
I was introduced to the man at 19, and i suddenly began to miss him.
I mourned my friend for two years, i am later told it was my mourning of both my father and her, i suppose that makes sense on paper, but the feeling of mourning was so claustrophobic that i just wanted it done with. I continued to miss my father, and i somehow wanted him back, it was not conscious, it was not rational, it was a gap in my heart that i was suddenly monstrously aware of, and there was no shushing it. It would not go away.
And as cliched as our lives usually are, i went from being a straight arrow goody two shoes responsible girl, who had only had one boyfriend who was her childhood sweetheart, to the girl who wanted to try anything and everything, to a hunger struck soul striving to devour all that was possibly out there.
I had several relationships, i broke men's hearts and got my heart broken, i took emotions to extremities, i was looking for an unconditional love that i wouldn't want to push away, i was looking for the love of a man that was so complete, it would fill the gap.
At 24, i began to understand the magnitude of self destruction i was doing.
I began to see that i had everything in my life under complete control at will, i began to understand that i was unbelievably strong in every way, except in my relationships with men.
I packed up and moved to France, i tore myself away from my mother and my then insane relationship, and i spent eight months walking the streets of the south of France, drinking coffee, writing and making my apartment into a home. I learned how to cook, how to clean, how to wash my clothes, how to pay my bills, how to save up money and how to be alone. I rejected all advances made by men, when my ex came to find me i drove to Italy, i realized again all that was great about me, all the things i knew how to do, i started traveling, and i finally accepted that no man or thing could fill the gap a father left. I understood that i had to love myself enough for me and him, and i recognized the power of being independent, of not needing external love.
The dark ages were ending, i was finally dealing with the loss of a father, 18 years later.
I've been in love and out and in again since then, i slip and struggle often with my relationship with men, but i find my peace with it through two things:
1. I know in my heart that i don't want anyone to fill that gap anymore
2. I know this is my baggage, its a part of me, and whoever loves me will love all of me, with gaps and holes and luggage and wounds.
Such is life. We all go through traumas, we all carry scars, we all have mutilated characters as a consequence, we all have our own reasons for aggression, distance and self defenses.
I pride myself on at least being able to see my faults and distortions, and apologize for them when they take over me.
This post is probably about a year over due. I've dreaded writing it, but now that i have i know that i always had to. Contrary to funny, sexy, amusing blogs, mine has always served first and foremost as my outlet.