I spoke to my friend Noel today about Daddy dying. My brother picked up my phone, as I have not been answering any calls. I was rather proud of myself, I must admit. I sounded very together.
Ask me how I am coping and my answer is simple: I cook. All mails or texts of condolences are answered with a green heart. My Mother wanted to know if I would speak or sing at Daddy’s memorial. No, I will burst out crying before I can utter one single word I told her.
When I walk in the morning I listen to my new music so I can hold on to something. I imagine being on stage with my band and with every note I practice emotional control so I am not swallowed whole by this fresh grief. I sing Vast is the Forest and Goodnight, Goodbye – both written for my father. Note by note, phrase by phrase…. breathe and focus. This is how I would sing, how I move my hands, my body. Control. Focus. Breathe.
I was so ready to move on last week, just cut ties regardless of emotions felt and start anew. Preferably in another country where my music stands a better chance. Leave everything and everyone behind and try being happy instead. My own home and studio, a few years later adopt a kid. Boom! Happiness. That was my plan and then the pandemic happened and now Daddy’s dead.
When I was unhappily married I use to retreat to the bedroom, close the door and sing jazz standards and negro spirituals for hours. My ex husband never minded the hours of singing. Perhaps because he never understood how alone I felt as I sang. And so I would sing and sing until I no longer felt alone, until I knew where I end and my pain began. Until I could face him and my daughter. I need to make time to sing and let go of whatever it is so feel, bit by bit.
And sure, it would be nice to crawl into arms that love me and remain there when I miss Daddy a bit too much. But this is not a possibility – with or without the lockdown I was always going to go through losing my father alone. And it’s okay. I have seen other dark days also and am still here. Now I just happen to cook a great deal better.
We leave for Cape Town on Saturday as his memorial takes place on Sunday, on father’s day.