Since that day my mother and my 4 siblings and I have been reeling with shock and bereft with grief. We miss him, and the emotion seems to rise and fall in waves, like a tide coming in and out. Because his death was so sudden, at times I have felt overwhelmed with memories and sadness that I will never see my father again, yet at other times I've had a powerful denial, that my dad is actually just out at work, or in his den, or out cutting wood in the forest (which he loved to do). At other moments, there is just numbness and a persistent blue feeling, and I've had little motivation to do much of anything, including knitting.
The first night, I found myself trying to remember what I'd ever knit for my father. Then in his bedroom, I found the sweater I'd made him about 10 years ago. It was 100% merino wool, worsted weight in a sandy beige -- a classic raglan sleeve pullover with a rollneck collar, and rolled edge sleeves and hem. It was a J.Crew copycat, of their classic rollneck sweater, which at the time was a staple in their winter catalog. Dad wore it very well, and it looked like he'd worn it recently, since it was laid out close to the top of a pile of worn clothing on his dresser. I examined it closely. Moths had eaten a couple of small holes in it, so I took it home to repair. My mother told me to keep it, and to wrap myself up in it when I need to. It was such a comfort to find it.
There was another knit I found in his room that gave me enormous comfort for the few days right afterward. Though not handmade, it was a sturdy dark teal-green cardigan with a shawl collar, front pockets and leather buttons. I remember him wearing it countless times while he read in his den -- the kind of thing he would advise us to put on if we complained of feeling cold around the house in the winter. I wore it constantly for a good 4 days, and it felt good.
My family and I all gathered together. We helped each other get through the first difficult days, the wake and the funeral. We laughed and cried and ate and drank. We each struggled to begin to accept this new normal, and we each expressed how incredibly lucky we are to have been given the gift of this big loving family -- thank you Dad.
So since then some things have been difficult. Making sense of anything has been difficult, though we've been sifting through every aspect of these events, searching for meaning. Writing has been difficult, though I think I'm getting past that, having had the privilege, along with my brother Michael and my sister Emma, of eulogizing my father when we celebrated his life at his funeral. And surprisingly to me, the idea of knitting was difficult during the first week or so. Usually such a familiar and comforting thing, I couldn't seem to focus. The entire exercise seemed oddly pointless. Fortunately, it gently came back to me, and in a matter of a day or two, I'd finished Bronwyn's mittens, and made a hat for Emma. I was seeking out new projects, and on the weekend I visited my lovely friends at Espace Tricot, and indulged in yarn and warm chats.
|My Dad and me, Summer 1975.|
In the tremendous gap created when we lost my dad, it has been the little things that have begun to fill in the space. The love we all felt for and from him, the closeness we've gained from going through this together, and the small comforts -- my dad's favourite books, photos, music, and clothing, his humour, his idiosyncracies -- have all helped us start this process of moving forward, as a family, and of honouring his memory by living fully: doing what we love with the people we love, every day. For my sister Christy and me, this includes knitting, and I'm so very grateful for it.