About this blog

My only daughter's name is Clea. Clea was six years and nine months old and she was enjoying a family holiday in Samoa when the ocean surged as a wall, ten metres high, and drowned her. Many other people died that morning of 29 September 2009.
The other four members of her family survived the tsunami.
Life has never been the same since. It will never be the same. This blog features memories, reflections, poetry, etc...
Just let me stay with her under this moon,
hold her in my arms, spin her in the air,
with my dear daughter in some timeless swoon.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

“I no longer know you that well”


I received an email from someone I have known for many years. The message was very brief:  apart from some supposedly funny jokes, this former friend seemed to imply I no longer cared about our friendship.
I decided I would reply.  “Nothing further from the truth”, I said. “It seems a difficult task for lots of people to accept that the Jorge they once knew died on Lalomanu Beach on 29 September 2009. He’s not coming back. […] The dead never come back to give us peace, to reassure us that everything is alright  Because in fact, it is not.” I attached a copy of a sonnet I recently wrote, one that has not been published yet. It’s not every day that you send poetry to people you know, is it? It might be seen as something special...

A longer reply came back a few days later, the first truly meaningful message in three and a half years. Well-meaning, of course. It reminded me (as if I did not have all of this before losing my daughter) that I “still have a wonderful wife and two sons”, that I am “in good health” (how do they know? Have they spoken to my GP?) “a job” (Wrong! Not true! I quit my job more than a year ago, and I work from home now…) “a healthy household economy” (again, how have people gained access to my finances? I must speak to the bank manager about this soon…) and also that I have “intelligence”. The icing on the cake is that “that is a lot in a world where, you know only too well, there are plenty of people who lose their loved ones, and on top of that, they have nothing at all”.

Perhaps the person they once knew they no longer know. Or perhaps, they can't be bothered to make the effort (yes, I acknowledge it takes some effort) to reconnect with the new me I am. Perhaps this me I am in 2013 is altogether too painful, too raw. It takes guts to reach out. It takes guts to pick up the phone and hear my voice, the voice of a broken father, the voice of a sad man nearing his 50th birthday and who still cries every morning because his only daughter was killed by a tsunami during a family holiday, and although he saved one of his sons, he was unable to save her and could not find her body despite searching for her for hours.

I guess I should seek forgiveness from them. For my shortcomings, for my inadequacies, for being unable to realise “how lucky” I should feel. Perhaps I should seek forgiveness for having bared my soul to them by means of a book, a book that I wrote, published and mailed to so many at my own expense.

I mean, how or why did I dare reveal my trauma and my grief? Stepping across the comfort zone? Heavens forbid! Surely I should have kept all of that to myself, so as not to disturb sensitivities…

“People think they know you. They think they know how you're handling a situation. But the truth is no one knows. No one knows what happens after you leave them, when you're lying in bed or sitting over your breakfast alone and all you want to do is cry or scream. They don't know what's going on inside your head – the mind-numbing cocktail of anger and sadness and guilt. This isn't their fault. They just don't know. And so they pretend and they say you're doing great when you're really not. And this makes everyone feel better. Everybody but you.” 
― William H. Woodwell Jr.

1 comment:

  1. There are kind and empathic people who can help us at times, but only those who have experienced the loss of a child can truly understand. Other people cannot and do not "get it".
    I do not listen to the "advice" of people who have not experienced this devastation. No matter what they say, it seems to trivialize the life of my son and his essential being in the constellation of my family.


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