Grief can also lead us to richer ways of living the time we have left – time denied to those we grieve. It is, of course, a terrible cruelty for anyone to demand this of those who are overwhelmed by the apparent pointlessness of life after the death of a loved one. What a ‘richer way of living’ means, each person must discover for themselves.
For me, it started to come during that first difficult year when, one by one, birthdays, anniversaries and annual celebrations had to be negotiated in Andrew’s absence. Tucked in a drawer, I discovered the previous year’s Father’s Day card I received from him. Opening it, I found a gift voucher for art supplies and remembered Andrew bouncing (as only he could) into the house shouting, “Dad! Are you doing what you really want to do?”
22 years was far too short a time for Andrew to realise the huge dreams he had. Every parent who buries a child is left with the question, “Why am I the one still here?” It seemed to me that I could best answer that question by pursuing the dreams that remained unrealised in me. Now, with three solo art exhibitions and numerous group shows under my belt, I can imagine the sparkle in Andrew’s eyes as he says, “My dad’s an artist!” And sometimes, I pause and say, “Yes, Andrew, I am doing what I really want to do.”