I don’t think grief comes in waves.
I think it comes in bursts.
Ferocious and explosive.
It hits you at the most unexpected of moments.
Last night it was a sandwich.
I was thinking that tomorrow, for lunch, I’d like a chicken and salad sandwich on multigrain. I don’t know why I was thinking about my lunch for the next day. Maybe I was hungry.
But I was instantly transported.
Years ago, my family used to spend hours upon hours hanging about near the sandwich shop and the Muffin Break at Castle Towers. It was back when my sisters and I all had new babies and toddlers. When we wanted to get out of the house, we’d meet Mum and Dad at the shops. We’d eat sandwiches and then have coffee and goodies. And we’d stay for far too long. Mum and Dad would usually share a sandwich. Sometimes roast beef. Sometimes salmon and salad. Usually on multigrain. Dad would do the coffee orders. Or he’d give someone a fifty dollar note and send them up to get the coffee. ‘Extra hot flat white in a mug,’ he’d say. ‘Choose some goodies, too,’ he’d say. His favourites were always changing. Neenish tart. Pineapple tart. Vanilla slice. Cheesecake. Maracrons. But he loved whatever you brought back.
Once, my family hung around there so long that I left to do a shift as a swimming teacher, came back after and they were still there. Various sisters and nephews had come and gone. But there were my parents, an island in the middle. A safe place. You could leave a baby in a stroller with them while you went and did your grocery shopping. They’d give your toddlers endless $2 coins to play on the shopping centre ride. They’d cuddle them and feed them. They’d show them off to strangers and friends. Their faces shining with pride.
I know it probably sounds really weird. A family hanging out in a shopping centre all day long. And sometimes we went to parks instead… got some sunshine. But Dad always wanted coffee in a mug… takeaway wasn’t his thing.
So, last night, I thought about a sandwich and it all came rushing back. Hours upon hours of time with my Dad. Time that I didn’t know would one day run out.
And the grief rushed in. It punched me. It slapped me. It pummelled me.
It tugged at my limbs and it made my stomach ache.
I cried and Steve stroked my hair and got me a hot water bottle and shared stories about my dad with me and eventually, I fell asleep.
So now, I’m sort of okay again.
Until the next burst.