I received an unexpected reminder when I opened Facebook today. With it being harder and harder to keep track of the days I didn’t realise it was the 11th, which would be my dad’s 67th birthday. I don’t really use FB anymore, it’s mainly to keep in touch with my family and right now in isolation I need it more than ever. The ‘memories’ feature on the site showed me a picture of my dad I uploaded on this day in 2014, a year after he died.
I find it strange how grieving works. For me at least. Even though I saw the photo I felt okay, not too emotional. Mainly happy. Happy because I got to see my dad when I least expected it, and he was smiling in a great mood. The image was a very old one, taken way before I was born. He had long hair and a beard, he was a rocker after all.
I also find it strange how dreams work. I still have dreams about my father, the hardest were shortly afterwards when I would have a dream he was still with us. I remember the worst part of my day shortly after his passing was on an evening just before sleep. I didn’t want that momentary pause- even if it was for milliseconds- when I would wake up and suddenly remember he wasn’t with us and that emotion hit me hard again. But I just woke up with the immediate knowledge. I didn’t even have that pause before realisation.
I did in fact have a dream about him only a few days back. It wasn’t one that I have told even my mum about as although strange, was uneventful. But I wanted to share it here as dreams slowly fade from memory, and I have shared a couple of strange dreams in the past on my blog. I find them such a fascinating part of our existence.
I was walking with family up the road towards our home late at night. I am not sure how late, but after sunset. It was pitch black. Our family home is in a little village on top of a hill surrounded by rolling hills in the north of England. We were walking up the hill on the main road heading to the village, roughly a ten minute walk. Why we were at the bottom of the hill is a mystery, dreams are weird like that. But something caused us to pause and we stayed where we were for a moment, gazing at something but I can no longer remember what. I noticed as we started to climb the hill again that my dad never stopped, in fact he got to the top of the hill already. I ran to chase him, got to the beginning of the village and kept shouting ‘Dad! Dad!’ and despite getting closer he never turned around. Now as it has been a while I can no longer remember if he did turn around just before I woke up, or if that was how the dream ended. What is strange about the dream is that this wasn’t a reflection of how my dad usually behaved, in fact the complete opposite. He was always there for me 24/7. Literally 24/7. He would constantly say that no matter where I was and what time it was, if I ever needed him he would be there. And he always was without fail. Maybe the dream was my brain interpreting the fact that he can no longer be there for me, I am not sure. I love to think that our dreams are the artwork formed as a result of our conscious actions and feelings, this would mean we could decode the meanings, no matter how bizarre they seem upon reflection.
I got a little choked up speaking to my mum today, as she was getting emotional during a call we had earlier. But even then it wasn’t difficult to speak. There have been times when I have been overcome with emotion, often when I least expect it. I can have countless conversations about my dad and feel okay, then one day I’ll be walking through a supermarket or in a bar and a Jimi Hendrix song comes on and I have to sit down for a moment. The emotion can lay dormant for a long time and suddenly it hits me and takes me by surprise.
I once heard that when a close family member dies, our brains don’t process it fully to keep us from going insane. It scars quickly over the wound and helps us to get back on our feet quicker. I don’t know how true this is, it could be bull for all I know but I would say that has been my experience.
I didn’t cry much at the time, and to be honest haven’t cried too much since. Apart from the times that it has snuck up on me and I have shed a tear in the strangest of places. Alcohol does this too, and in a way I like it because it helps me to let it out. Letting it out is a good thing, I listen to a song we both loved and it just happens sometimes. There are a few songs that get to me, one being this one by Alter Bridge. It was a song that I found very emotional before I even lost anyone, the song was written by the lead guitarist after losing his mother. The comment section is now filled with fans paying their respects as well as grieving themselves. It seems like it is a go-to song for people that want to close their eyes, listen and think of happy memories with loved ones.
I can only listen to this one sometimes as it is a tearjerker for sure.
I often go between two phases. My dad and I shared a great relationship, our house consisted of my mum, dad and my sister. That never changed until us kids moved out around university and found our own place. I had a very solid foundation to build my life upon and I will be forever grateful for that.
Despite living in a peaceful household I still have regrets that I didn’t do enough in return for my dad. Not even the big things as I was in my early twenties when he passed, I can forgive myself for not having my whole life together at that point. More the little things like making him more cups of tea or helping in the garden or whatever he was working on. The shopping and more chores. Another part of me thinks that if this is my biggest regret then I have been lucky. I spend an equal amount of time being grateful and content. We all lose loved ones, and our aim should be to have as little regrets as possible in our time with them.
As I was speaking with my mum today we were saying how seven years has gone by so quickly. Instantly Green Day’s Wake me up when September Ends started playing in my head, the lyrics ‘Seven years has gone so fast’ in particular. Billie Joe Armstrong wrote the song about losing his father, seven years ago at the time.
And it is true, seven years has gone so fast. I didn’t plan an emotional post today as I am still uploading some London shots from a few months back, but it would be weird not to share a post about my dad on his birthday. I miss him dearly, and grateful that he was a brilliant dad from day one. I appreciate this more and more with every year.
Happy Birthday Dad.
This is for anyone else that has lost someone very close to them too. In isolation we are probably in our heads a lot more than usual, a time of deep thought especially as we cannot see our families that are still around.
Cherish the time, even if it is through FaceTime.
Featured Photo by Dustin Groh on Unsplash