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Found at sea

Morna Young’s father died when she was five. Two decades later, she began a quest to uncover more about him - and herself

When I was very young, my father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. I grew up repeating those words - ‘lost at sea’- with no real understanding of what they meant. Later, I would learn that his body was never recovered and my family couldn’t hold a funeral. Later still, I would realise the significance of retrieving a body and the closure it can bring but, before then, I was just a confused child who couldn’t comprehend why, one day, Dad didn’t come home.

I carried his loss with me every day but I didn’t know how to process the grief. I was too young and ill-equipped. I knew I was different to the other children at school. I knew it every time the class made Father’s Day cards or shared family tales about Christmas and holidays. This continued into my teenage years where the question ‘what do your parents do?’ dominates every introduction. I would murmur a reply, unable to deal with the looks of pity or surprise. I just wanted to be ‘normal’.

By the time I was old enough to try to remember my dad, my memories had all but disappeared. I’d try desperately, but unsuccessfully, to picture his face or remember his voice. There was a gaping hole in my life but I didn’t know how to fill it. When my father was lost at sea, part of me had been lost too.

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