Eight Years On
Walking back from Jon's house one late night aged thirteen, I asked you if you wanted to live to see your grandchildren. Your soft blue eyes filled with tears and you promised me again, your warm whiskey breath steaming up the cold seaside air, that you'd try to change.
Six years later, your first grandchildren were born and you'd been in your urn for fifteen months already.
Today is December 7th, 2017. That makes it eight years ago today that Mum ran into my room at 3am, her long black hair wet and strewn over her face. A primal crying and gasping I'd never heard before, telling me you'd had a bleed on your brain and that we'd be called back soon to hear whether or not they could operate.
For the next half an hour, with every second that ticked on the living room clock, the walls felt tighter and the ceiling felt lower.
As we now know, you died somewhere you shouldn't have been, a seven-hour drive from home somewhere that didn't deserve you. Every day I breathe in, forgive, breathe out and release.
What makes it just fine is that you're not gone. You're here in every inch of my being.
You're the warm shower water hitting the sweet spot on the back of my neck because you used to tell me "it warms up your whole body". You're the oohs and aahs in my head as I watch the fireworks on a November night. You're the one that stops me biting off clothing tags with my teeth because it's not good for them.
You're every sunrise, me sat on the floor, you spinning the model globe around explaining how day and night work.
You're the confidence nurtured from day one that I can be anything I put my mind to.
Your hugs taught me that a father's love is irreplaceable.
Your openness taught me you weren't always right.
The freedom you gave me taught me to thrive on my own.
The freedom you gave me taught me that children need an appropriate level of safeguarding and supervision, otherwise a lot can go wrong.
Your tears taught me that fathers are human - that it's okay for men to cry too.
Sending me to the shops alone as a child made me confident in talking with adults.
Sending me back to complain when I was short-changed taught me not to take s*** from anyone.
Your lies taught me to put honesty before my pride because I know how hurtful lies can be.
Your story taught me not to judge others.
The corneas of your eyes saved someone else's sight, and taught me to never look at a stranger without love, just in case it's your eyes looking back at me.
A ruptured berry aneurysm exacerbated by cirrhosis of the liver.
A time-bomb whose fuse was shortened by poor choices.
I don't blame you. I love you so deeply.
Sometimes in the supermarket, I'll detour to the bath aisle and open the cap of a Badedas bubble bath bottle so I can close my eyes and smell you again.
There are a thousand moments I continue to share with you, regardless that your body's form is now no more than settled dust. I just have to visit and I'm here with you, your clammy warm hand cupping mine.
It's 2:58am, your next grandchild is kicking me in the womb, and there's no need for me to wish I could turn back the clock eight years. Your death was just another happening, not inherently good or bad. Only my human side, rarely, misses you. My higher side is with you day and night.
I carry with me sweet memories and strong lessons, and my sense of contentment comes not from clinging onto these, but from knowing I have the potential to create many more sweet memories, and the potential to learn and teach so many more strong lessons.
Thank you, Dad, for raising me in your well-intended, loving, unique way.
Goodnight, sweet dreams and see you at sunrise.