|Picture by Nettsu|
Four years ago tonight my dad died. This is a fact. It is "something about me". It is a "defining moment" in my life. It is something I think about everyday. It is what makes and breaks me.
The night it happened was the worst night imaginable. The pain that coursed through our family was immense. It came like a tsunami and it drowned us. For days and days and days we bobbed about in the aftermath in absolute danger of turning into ghosts ourselves. This huge character that bound us together, that was absurd and brilliant, a pain and a know-it-all had simply vanished. One minute he was there, the next he wasn't. Simple as that.
But I am not the only person to have ever lost someone and do not want to claim bereavement as "my thing". I will be eternally grateful for my friends at that time, the ones who knew when and how to talk about it. The friends who stopped me with all their might from becoming "The Girl Whose Dad Just Died". They resuscitated me with coffee, odd days out and blissful silences. But when you lose someone you love throughout your soul you have to become an expert on how to cope otherwise that soul is in danger of shrivelling up. It is a lesson you learn whether you know it or not. Death, like love, is hounded by cliches, but I'm not ashamed to tell you that time does heal.
And the best medicine to aid the healing process? Oh yes, it's laughter.
This was a hard lesson to learn and one I resisted as long as possible. I don't think I even spoke coherent sentences for a while and as for laughing, it was something I was sure could never happen again. My wonderful sister had other ideas. At first I couldn't understand how she could buzz about still smiling, being charming to people. She didn't seem to be feeling what I was. But of course she was. She was hit by the same waves and hurt in the same way. But she understood my dad and knew that she needed to be like him. I witnessed my dad loose his mother and brother. He allowed himself one day on both occasions to sit mutely in his chair. The next morning he came back. He realised life was about the living and that we needed him to give the ok to the light and laughter. My sister knew this too and I bow to her wisdom and thank her for calling out to us as we floundered in the shallows.
It is not a suprise to me then, that when I eventually did reach the shore I sought out the one person I knew would have me laughing for the rest of my life. The one person I can be completely myself around. I can be irrational, over the top, pathetic and embarrassing and this person takes it all in his stride. He sees through everything I would otherwise hide. He keeps me afloat each day by filling my life with nonsense and comedy. He does this unflinchingly and no matter how hard I try and plunge into a depression he just won't let me. He may be miserable himself, he may be tired but making me happy is at the top of his to-do list. This is as close to unconditional love as you will find outside a bloodline and I adore it. Hope and survival doesn't just rely on you finding someone like this, but it helps. I cannot underplay how much this person's role in my life has enabled me to get up in the mornings, to get on with things and to bloody well allow myself happiness.
The one thing I will always regret is that my dad never got to meet Martin, but I won't dwell on it. I know that the pair of them would have been firm friends and my dad would be full of thanks. This is a fact.