An open letter for during the first Christmas after losing my Dad to leukaemia.
I’m dreading Wednesday, I really am. I try to remind myself every day that you’re with me in spirit and yet it’s impossible, it’s not good enough. You’re not here with me! In person! You’re not anywhere that I can see you.
Dad, I go looking for you so regularly. If I could just look back and see you, look up and see you. If I could call you or message you, but I can’t, you’re gone. You’re gone forever.
Sometimes, the most stupid things trip me up. I was folding up some clothes and I remembered how you used to offer me a mint humbug while we were in the car,
“D’wanna sweet?” you’d say, I could hear the saliva pooling in your mouth with the sweet that you were sucking on. At the time, those manners were something I’d frown upon, but I’d give anything to have you back, warts and all.
I don’t forget you, I can’t forget you. People like you are unforgettable. You taught me so much about myself, so much I didn’t realise until now. How strong I am, how capable I am, how independent I am. You didn’t teach me everything that I needed to know, sometimes you inspired me instead because you knew I already had it in me, you just had to encourage it into fruition. Your teaching methods were inspirational.
You taught me what it means to be confident and humble at the same time. I owe it to you that I am where I am now. Me, your Booboos, leading, inspiring, helping. Who would have thought it?
You did, didn’t you?
You believed in me. You wanted me to do this.
But I can only do this because of you. I can only do this because you believed in me, because you loved me, because you never gave up on me.
You taught me what it is to be determined, to be resilient, passionate. You taught me what it means to care or not care at all. To care about the big things, and let the small things wash over. You taught me how to talk less and listen more.
You taught me so much about myself, and people, so much that I’d never have thought of before. You taught me to help people and how to flirt with boundaries, flirt with the rules when someone wronged us. Eventually, I learned from the best and I cottoned on to how to play the bigger game.
“Booboos, that’s not nice” you’d chuckle. You’d know that I always acted within the rules of society, just.
“Shouldn’t piss me off, then” I’d say with a grin.
You knew me, and you loved that about me. I was following in your footsteps. I was your work of art, your creation.
I’m sorry that I wasn’t there at the end. I’m angry at myself, and so ashamed. I ran scared, I ran scared of death. I wasn’t there when you needed me, and I should have been. I should have been there for you like you were for me. With that said, you would have always told me that should and regrets won’t get me far, and all I can do is to do better next time. You’d tell me to learn from my mistakes.
See? You taught me so much. You were an incredible man.
Last week, when I led on the ground and used a pin hammer to pin a cable to the wall I remembered – Yep, you taught me how to do that, too.
The way I hammered, the way I led on the floor.. just like my Dad.
I am like my Dad.
And you know what? It’s an honour.
It’s an honour to be like an amazing man, an incredible man, an inspirational man. It’s an honour to have your eyes, your wit, and your insights.
But Wednesday, we have to brace ourselves for the painful void where you once were. We have to prepare the Christmas dinner ourselves (because you always used to do that) and I haven’t written one ‘Dad E’ label this year. I was tempted to, even if only for it to feel like you were still here, as an antidote to the nightmare I can’t wake up from, the nightmare I had as a child that could be cured by seeing you, feeling you, hearing you. Now that I can’t. what serves as my medicine?
I know that I’ll look at your chair, and I know that I’ll wish you were there. Maybe you will be there, we just can’t see you. I know that it will be hard at the dinner table too, with that chair empty where you once were. Every time I see or hear A Muppet’s Christmas Carol or Scrooge, I’m reminded of you, and it hurts, my god it hurts. I’d so willingly watch them over and over again if I could just watch them with you.
But we have to go on, we have to go on with you in our hearts and knowing that you were once there at all. We have to go on, remembering that you have been. We go on for knowing that you existed, and our world is a better, brighter, wittier place for ever having had you in it.
Merry Christmas, Dad. I hope the Christmas dinner in heaven with Nan & Grandad is every bit enjoyable.
With all my love,
Your Booboos xx
NB. This post was planned last week and is not related in any way to the recent post by my good friend Bill, although we share a tight bond at this exceptionally difficult time.