Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Shakes You to the Core

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Shakes You to the Core

Article excerpt

Byline: Vani Naidoo

LAST fortnight I travelled back to South Africa to bury my father. Seven flights and more than 32 hours in the air to say my final goodbye.

His death came as a shock to me, interrupting the mundaneness of family life to announce its arrival in an unforgettable manner.

By all accounts my father's end came peacefully, a heart attack in the early hours of the morning that stopped his life and caused mine to falter.

Two weeks later, I have to still remind myself to breathe. It is easier to strangle the feelings of despair that stir than to choke on the reality should it bubble to the surface. I have yet to make sense of it all - do you ever? - so forgive me as I bumble along.

When you leave to make your home half way across the world, you give little thought to your parents aging. Perhaps the same is true if even if you just move across the same state. So caught up are you in your exciting all-consuming new life that there is little space to contemplate the fact they may be nearing the end of theirs.

Sure, you see the markings of time during visits - the wrinkles and lines that weren't there a year ago, the slight roundness of the shoulders, the slowing of pace - but even as adults, who know otherwise, we can hope our parents are infallible.

But in the confines of economy class I had nothing but time to contemplate the years lost. I kept my head down hoping no one would engage me in conversation, kept my eyes closed so flight attendants offering food would pass by and just about managed to keep my tears at bay.

It was a lonely journey.

Like all of you out there I have dealt with loss before - uncles, aunts, cousins, friends. But there is something about losing a parent that shakes your foundations to the core.

It leaves you displaced and fumbling, a little confused even. It forces introspection - the kind you could do without - and insists you look those truths you have been running from in the eye.

Losing a parent, even when you have a family of your own, numbs your soul, it makes you feel small and alone, almost like you have lost a link to yourself.

Losing a parent, whether you expect to or not, sucks. …

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