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How to Hold On When a Loved One is Gone

I rarely admit it but I miss a lot of people who are inappropriate to miss.

Math, for example, across the country and likely drunk on wine and cheese, coding a personal calendar app running on his smartass mouth.

Or British David, who’d swing his laundry bag like a tennis racquet while I perched on the stone ledge, and we’d chat into the sweltering night in Hong Kong. Or even Dave from Dubai, who’d bartered for a t-shirt for me, at the markets with the lady who’d slapped his bicep; he was strangely calming. Or charming.

Anyways, once I start thinking about it, I can come up with a whole slew of people I miss and only causing myself trouble. When am I seeing these people again, really?

My dad would describe bartending in Toronto, young and carefree, sneaking sips before his shift. Rising in the then-young field of tech, weekends consisted of movies and basketball with his friends until dark.

What I am thinking of lately is that my dad couldn’t sing at all, but he would listen to my piano practices. I would come across sheet music he’d copied for me and my heart would skip a bit.

Out of hundreds of pieces on the shelf, I’ve always returned to these favourites from all those years ago.

I remember my dad figuring out how to print the strange files, with his must-do attitude that always turns into can-do; our hack was taking screenshots of the pages and printing those.

I catch myself staring into the sunset wondering what he is doing up there.

Minutes pass and I notice the tall man by the window who stares back at me, wearing a slim-fit leather jacket with a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, like the one my dad carried all those years ago.

He is here, somewhere. I would love so much to give him a hug. It hurts, but I miss him. I also miss other people whom I can’t see right now.

Today, I’d like you to hug someone you love — and let them end it.

Because life goes on: day, by day, by day. And you just never know what life might bring in the future, but at least you can enjoy the moments you have together, right now.

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Jonathon Campbell
8 years ago

Grace, hang in there. My father died unexpectedly five years ago and it still hurts. I can remember being lost for months, not eating or sleeping. For me the only way I could quiet my mind was through hours of practicing. There is no right way to grieve. It takes a long time. You can be fine for weeks and then it sneaks up on you like it just happened. I don’t have advice per se but a few things were helpful. One was “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. It’s a book about the unexpected loss of… Read more »