Twenty Years

Grief is the price we pay for love.

Queen Elizabeth II

The 31st of January is no ordinary day for us. It is a day of memory and loss, grief and love. On this day, twenty years ago, our lives were changed forever. My husband Rob, the father of Dan and Bec, died suddenly from a heart attack. He was 39.

It is hard to believe that twenty years have gone past. That terrible day has been etched into my memory forever. If you would like, you can read about that here. As I shepherded my two little children, aged four and six, through the valley of grief in the following months, we grew close; tight as only three people can be who are bound by blood and grief. People say you get over grief – but you don’t. Not really. Not in the way that people think. Life goes on, we grow, we change, we laugh and cry, but always, deep in our hearts, there is a hole that is never filled; a wound that never quite heals.

Dan and Bec have grown up now. They have gone through all the milestones of primary and secondary school. There have been school concerts, sports carnivals, camps and graduations. There have been birthday parties, eighteenths and twenty-firsts. Bec has learned to drive and gone to university. Dan has moved out of home and is living the post-school life. We have moved house – many times. There have also been twenty years of anniversaries and Father’s Days, and as much as you might think it gets easier, there is a way in which it doesn’t.

I don’t always know what goes through Dan’s mind. He recognises Rob’s photo, but I don’t know what else he can remember. Bec is a different story. She has a remarkable memory for incidents I had forgotten. She is also remarkably just like her father. As the years have gone by, the grief of what she has lost and what she has missed out on, becomes sharper. The older she gets, the more she knows, the more she realises all the things the other kids took for granted. At a very young age she learnt that life isn’t always fair.

This year, for the first time, we are away from home for January 31st. I am in Adelaide again to assist my parents with the Aged Care process and Bec has joined me. I didn’t want her to be alone for this day. Twenty years seems such a momentous anniversary, but it’s the kind of one you wish you didn’t need to have. Spending it in Adelaide, though, provides us with an opportunity.

Adelaide is the place where Rob and I met. It’s where we spent our first ten years together. We’ve been to Adelaide before but it had never crossed my mind to show Bec the haunts of our youth. So today that is what we are going to do, tracing the steps of our past – where we met, where we studied, the places we hung out and where we lived after our marriage. It will probably be tender and sad, but hopefully we will make some special memories in the places that gave Rob such joy.

Life isn’t always fair. It is messy and hard, but also filled with much joy and love as we keep those dear to us forever in our hearts.


7 thoughts on “Twenty Years

  1. Life is certainly messy, I can feel for Bec and Dan, I was ten when my Dad died also a heart attack. It does leave a terrible hole. It is great you are spending time revisiting early years and introducing Bec to that personal history. Sometimes I think it is easy to feel adrift when we don’t have close family ties and history. Bronte just spent three days with her Grandfather on her Dad’s side, giving her Grandmother a bit of a break, well actually both of them a break and it was such a positive experience for both of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sharon, I often think that those who have experienced loss early in their lives develop a deep compassion for others and a maturity beyond their years. They also may be more reflective. I see that in Bec and I am thinking you are the same. Time is precious, and time with family is valued even more when you know how fragile it can be.


  2. Thanks Gwen. This time of year is always sad, but we have always focused on the happy memories. Bec is very much like her father. All the relatives from that side see it straight away, so it is good to deepen her connection with him.


  3. A lovely, true and honest post Karen. You are right about grief. The hole is permanent, particularly when a loss is traumatic and out of time. I hope you had a “good” time going down that memory lane with your daughter. Those origin stories are important.

    Liked by 1 person

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