On Saturday it’ll be ten weeks since Tilly’s short time with us. I will have completed my second week at work, and will continue to carry on. Whatever that means.
As you all know, I was daunted about returning to work. I am pleased to say that my worries were short lived, as my colleagues quickly made me feel welcome, through their care and consideration, and by giving me some proper work to undertake.
So far, no one has said anything upsetting, and very few people has asked probing questions. Most people have avoided items on the ‘tick-list of things not to say to a grieving parent’. So in that sense all is good.
When people ask how I am doing, I have a few stock answers: “I’m not bad, thank you” or “We’re getting there,” or “it is good to be back and good to have routine”.
These are all true, but they’re all essentially a way of saying, “I’m carrying on”. If I am honest, that would be the best, most succinct, most honest, yet most raw answer.
I don’t feel the same as I did before Tilly was born. I am a different person. A version of me; mostly the same, but not quite. Like a good cover-version of a song you love, or the reformed line-up of your favourite band.
Like most men, I don’t cry much. I’ve not cried at work. I’ve been teary when close colleagues have embraced me, but that’s as much a reaction to their love and kindness. I think the reason I don’t is quite simple – when I cry I feel sad, and I’d rather not feel sad.
So I know that Tilly is always with me, and I think about her countless times, every single day. But I think of her in more of an abstract way, as I attempt to carry on. It just feels easier that way.
However, every now and then I start to feel guilty about this – should I not be trying to carry on? Should I show my emotions more? Should I mention her more at work? Should I go on the work night out tomorrow or is that inappropriate?
These are the thoughts that hound me. And in that sense, I can’t win. Am I even carrying on?
I think so, and I think, probably, I’m doing OK.
And OK is good enough, right now.