I tend to blog about my Dad twice a year; his birthday and the date he died. He died so long ago now, that painful grief only surfaces on these dates, I like to take these moments to really remember him, as best as I can.
I was 15 when my Dad died suddenly, which is now a massive 17 years ago. The gap makes it harder and harder to pull memories that feel tangible, rather than just stories I've learned. I've been alive longer without him, than I ever was with him.
It's weird but the one memento I have that I like to read the most to remember him, is a letter an old friend of his wrote me, when I was about 16. It was a friend I remembered from my childhood, but who we hadn't seen since I was about 8. I'd written him, telling him how fondly I remembered him, and that my Dad had died, and whether he had any memories he could share with me.
His 10 page letter back to remembers a complete man, with flaws and sadness. But it feels so honest and true. Sometimes we slip into making our lost loved ones saint-like. Which isn't real.
I re-read this letter today, and was surprised that different sentences jumped out at me this time.
"We shared a notion that work could be fun and fulfilling." I'd never recalled this about my Dad before, and it makes me feel connected to him in a new way. He was self employed too.
My Dad apparently said to him, "What can I do now, because I have everything I ever wanted?" He was referring to owning a home, having a family etc. Now this feeling didn't last, my family home became a pretty broken one, and he stopped living with us when I was about 6, But I like that he felt it, at one time.
The letter gets sadder, as my Dad got sadder, but I feel very connected to the honesty in it. However, there's a part where my Dad ripped a £1 note in half and they took half each. They'd planned to meet up in a certain pub on Christmas eve in 1999. My Dad died in 1998, so I have zero clues if he'd remembered, but the friend still had it in his wallet. Despite falling out with my Dad, he'd kept it.
My Dad died at 42, which I appreciate more and more as being so young, I'm 32 now. He had no warning, it was just done. It makes me look at my life a little differently for sure.
I'm grateful I had him, I'm grateful for the person he helped me become. My heart broke when he died, and I became a new person. Grief feels so unique, but yet is one of the most universal experiences there is. We all break, and we all somehow put ourselves back together again.
My Dad never got to know me as an adult. I'd like to think we'd have continued to love each other's company, and shared a beer over his favourite pub games - darts and pool. Maybe we'd even have cut his huge ponytail (almost to his bum) off at the salon! Today, I'm going to play chess for the first time in years, as it was one of the games we used to enjoy today.