I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Don't Let Go

The spokes of my new $99 blue Sears bike gleam in the sunshine as they wobble back and forth. "Dad?" "Dad?! You're still holding on, right Dad?" I asked with a waver in my voice. "I don't want to fall off! I'm scared!" "I'm holding, I'm holding!" he pants, as he runs along behind me, one hand on the back of the bike and the other helping him keep his balance.

We went around Balboa Park that day, my Dad and I - me constantly shouting out for reassurance, him holding onto the back of that bike until either he, or I, fell off. At one point in the afternoon, I seemed to be getting a bit more confident, and yet again yelled, "Dad? Are you still there?" because in concentrating so hard on the road ahead, I couldn't really see him behind me, running along. "YES!" he shouted, "I'M STILL HOLDING ON!" ... but when I glanced over my shoulder, I realised he wasn't there. I was riding that bike all by myself. My Dad was actually a hundred feet or so behind me, smiling from ear to ear as I made my way down the path. Panicking, I immediately fell off and landed onto a metal grate buried in the grass. I scraped up my arm, and the front wheel of my new bike spun crazily at an odd angle.

My Dad came running to get me. "Michelley, why did you stop?" he asked me. "Because you weren't holding on and I got scared!" I cried. "But you didn't need me anymore," he said. "You could ride all by yourself." I just sat there, covered in grass stains and with my arm stinging from the scrape, and cried. "Enough," he said. "Come on, we'll try and try again until you get it right." So I stood up, shakily got on again, and set off - this time, making him promise he would hold on for the entire time.

He did hold on, but only for as long as it took for me to get my bearings. And then he let go, and I was (wobbily) riding that bike. All by myself. I was terrified of him letting go, and I was terrified of doing it on my own - but he knew that unless he eventually let go, I would never learn.

That story is actually a good analogy for how I have been feeling since my Dad left me on August 6 this year. Every day I go through the motions of getting up on my bike - the bike which is now my life, filled with a small business, and a home, and a husband and children. Every day, I'm afraid - not of falling down, but of how I will cope without my Dad hanging onto the back of that bicycle of mine. Some days, I ride and I ride and I think, "Hey, I'm doing this, and I'm doing it all on my own!" but then I'll see or hear something which reminds me of him, and I fall off. And I scrape my proverbial arm. And I cry, and I wish very hard that I didn't have to get up and try again.

But, I do. Because that's what my Dad would be telling me to do if he was here. That day in the park, he made me get up on that bike over and over and over again - no matter how much I cried, no matter how afraid I was, no matter how exhausted he became, no matter how much I begged him to quit and try another day. "Come on," he would say, "You can do this," and each day in my adult life, I remember those words - and those are the ones which help me get out of bed in the morning, and move forward.

When I came home from the US after his funeral, I found myself falling through the days. I would get up, full of plans and ideas... and then I would just sit. And cry. And sit. And achieve a whole lot of nothing. The next day was much the same. I would start out intending to get a bunch of stuff done, and then I just... wouldn't. Or couldn't. I consider myself a highly independent woman. I left home at 17, I've always marched to the beat of my own drummer, I've been proud of being "the strong one" and the one who just gets on with it rather than the one who sinks into drama and despair. And yet here I am, aged 33, wondering how the hell I'm supposed to keep going in life when my Dad isn't there to support me.

Don't get me wrong. My Mom and siblings are hugely supportive of me... but my Dad, well, he was the one getting me back up on that bike. He didn't have time for drama and dawdling, he certainly never had time for fear. He just...got on with it. He would be so frustrated with me, if he know how downright scared I was - and am - to get on with life without him. I didn't talk to my Dad every day, and the tyranny of distance meant I only saw him once in several months - but I still always knew he was there, hanging onto the back of my bike. And now, I have to overcome that fear of him not hanging on anymore. I have to just get up, push off, and ride out my life without him hanging on.

Truth be told, I'm completely terrified of doing exactly that. However, I have no choice in the matter. So every day, I'm need to be just a little bit less scared, and a little bit more brave, and I need to get on with it. Because, eventually one day, I won't fall off any more. And think of how proud of me he'll be then.

This post written for me, and for Scribbit, who is encouraging me to get back to blogging.


M.A. said...

I really liked this post. You described the feeling perfectly.

Scribbit said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your father--I bet he would be pleased to hear this story though, and to see what a difference he made in your life.

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

Lovely post Em

I was thinking of you last night (as I chopped the onions actually) and wondering how you were getting on.

Hopefully we can manage to squeeze in catching up in person some time after we move house.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Thanks everyone. A tough post to writ but very necessary.


M.B. said...

My Daddy has moderate dementia, and even in that state I am so glad to have him hear. He still knows me and sometimes we take turns helping each other keep trying.

Welcome back, my friend. And remember that it is okay to have a good cry.


ramona said...

oh em, what a wonderful post. Big (((hugs))) coming your way...