Her father always called her Georgia. Even her mother called her George or occasionally Georgie.
In private her Scottish boyfriend called her Dode. In spite of her objections he had persisted. As she had grown to trust him and rely upon him, she began to like it. Oddly, when he flirted or turned to her and said it, she felt feminine. Yet it was so absurdly masculine that she would giggle and question his motives when they fooled around.
Always Georgia, however, to her father.
When he had spoken her name she felt secure. She was still just a little girl needing to take her fathers hand in order to face the world. The loss of him was breaking her apart. She had not been prepared for the intensity of the grief.
When asked if she was religious she had previously taken pride in proclaiming her atheism. Now she was less certain of anything. Certainty now appeared arrogant. Nothing was permanent. Why had it taken her so long to realise such a fundamental aspect of life.
Since she was taking a role in organising the funeral people had been asking her about religion. Was her father religious? Had he a favourite hymn? Any biblical passages?
Her mother had discussed the possibility of a Humanist service. Some of the “nicest” funerals she had attended had been humanist. Yet, after some discussion, they both wanted a local minister to lead them through the day.
Today provided closure. She was told by so many people that the funeral would allow her to grieve and to begin the process of “moving on”. Such a thoughtless way to speak to a person desperate to hold onto a father. The last ten days had felt false. So many sentimental messages. So many embarrassed hugs. A wave of artifice. The only voice she could hear was her fathers.
This afternoon. Would his voice suddenly stop? If she visited him here, at his grave, would she feel close? It was the biggest step of her life. Far more important than leaving school. He had been so proud at her graduation. It now seemed so unimportant. At this moment she found there was no heart left for anyone else in the world and she needed the only man who had made her feel safe. She could ask no more of him. Had he realised how deeply she loved him? It was that thought. That thought was what started her cry. A loud, total breakdown of pain and loss and anguish. She realised nothing would stop her collapsing and she no longer wanted to try. She would never stop crying, ever.
Stephen’s arm wrapped around her and held her upright. She had forgotten he was there. He bent forward and looked into her eyes and she realised he was close to tears. They were for her and not for her father.
She felt his arm move and he took her hand. He held it tight and she squeezed. As hard as she could.
“Georgia” he said.