It was April of 2009 and I had just come home from the hospital after having minor surgery on my leg. My leg was bandaged where the incision was, so I was not able to see the extent of the incision. It was just as well because I knew I might feel queasy if the bruising was extensive.
The following morning, I was still feeling the soreness from the surgery but more than anything, I was feeling emotional and close to tears. I wondered at first if it was the after- effects of the surgery and the relief that it was over with. However, within hours that morning, the explanation came to me.
My birthday was just days away and this was my very first birthday without my father. My father passed away the previous summer, so the following year had been marked by a series of events without him – his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and so on.
I had always looked forward to my father’s birthday messages. He didn’t believe in the traditional birthday cards. Instead, he used to write me a funny handwritten message with a clue to the gift that he was giving me.
So the tears that morning had nothing to do with the surgery. They were all about my father.
Our medical system is so thorough in the quality of care and instructions we receive when it comes to surgery. I had a pre-operative appointment with the doctor, the surgery and then the post operative follow-up appointment. And the surgeon also gave me an emergency number to call if I ran into any complications.
My leg healed in a matter of weeks. I was able to remove the bandages and the bruises faded. My leg became stronger again and eventually there was no pain when I started walking.
Yet the emotional wounds after my father’s passing were still very evident. I remember there were so many times that I would begin to cry, just at the smallest reminder of him or something he would have said to me.
So the surgery on my leg is all but a distant memory. But the memories of my father’s life and his passing will be with me forever. I think of our emotional health to be like a garden that needs to be continually tended to, to be nurtured and watered and cared for.
The winter is the time that our garden rests. Then, come spring, the earth awakens and we see the very first signs of the buds that are emerging. It is the sign of hope for what will come.
Ruth has worked in the field of employment counselling for a period of 25 years and has loved the opportunity to help individuals reach their career goals. She is passionate about the need for improving the mental health of individuals and the need to ensure that all people have access to a safe and supportive work environment.
The views and opinions expressed in Community are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Madiha Foundation.