Happy Birthday Daddy. I hope that wherever you are you will be having a good knees up today.
I was actually due on your birthday and I arrived into the world exactly a week late. Mum told me how you rocked me and sung to me for hours after I was born and said I was the best birthday present you’d ever had. We’d always get so excited in the run up to our birthdays and loved celebrating them together.
How on earth is this the nineteenth birthday we’ve spent without you? That seems impossible to comprehend. In some ways it feels like just yesterday that you were here. That must be a good thing because it means that you are still very much a part of my life and always will be. Maybe not in body but in spirit
It’s strange the grief, I feel like I always carry a little piece of it with me. Like I’ve never been whole since the day you left us. As I watched you slip away, my heart shattered into a million pieces. Not being able to save the person you love most in the world is the hardest thing to go through.
It feels like another lifetime now, another me. I have now lived my life longer without you than I did with you although it doesn’t feel that way and it gives me comfort even just writing that. It’s hard to explain but your presence never feels far away. Your calming, beautiful aura is very much still with me.
I have so many beautiful memories of you Dad. You shaped my childhood, and what a happy childhood it was. Many memories seem so vague now, in fact the years before you died are a distant memory. Maybe it was my coping mechanism, blocking everything out the good and the bad – to numb the pain.
Today I don’t want to focus on the grief and the sadness, I want to focus on all of the good. People said to me after your death that time is a great healer. I wouldn’t hear it at the time but now I know it to be true. You never get over losing a loved one but you find a way to live with it. The pain is nowhere near as raw as it was for so many years.
Yesterday Mum came for tea and we were reminiscing about our last group family holiday to The Black Forest in Germany, the year before you died. We laughed at how you bought a large eight seater car just for that holiday, you loved to buy old things and fix them up. You could turn your hand to anything. We giggled at the old camper van you bought on a whim from Wales which never quite made it off the drive. Oh you loved a project! Those memories are precious to me and we need to learn to talk about them more.
It was lovely telling Steven about your little quirks, he knows you were unbelievably loved but I’m gutted that he didn’t get to meet you. You would love him, he has so many of your kind qualities and is a family man like you were. And you and Tommy would have adored each other, I know you’d dote on him and vice versa. He will grow up to know all about you Dad and what a huge influence you’ll always be in my life.
I sometimes look back to the early years after your death and I was like a ship at sea without an anchor. My head was a mess, I made bad life choices and bad relationship choices. I clung onto what love I could find and I tried to find stability alongside wanting to be a normal teenager and have fun. But what I went through wasn’t ‘normal’ at all. Life often has a different path to the one we’d imagined. Through my loss, I found strength I didn’t know I had. I’ve heard the saying; ‘You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.’ and I wholeheartedly agree.
The death of a loved one changes you. I’m not sure what I’d be like now had I not lost you so tragically when I was so young, but this is my life path and has led me to where I am now. And I have a wonderful husband and an amazing son so I can’t regret any of that. There have been many times that I’ve needed you Dad. I’m lucky to have such a wonderful Mum and Brother and supportive family and friends but nobody could replace you or the bond that we had. I felt safe, I felt invincible when you were here. Maybe that was also the naivety of being young.
Something I’d dreaded for years was how I’d feel on my wedding day, without you to give me away. My wonderful brother Peter did you so proud standing in, we shed some tears for you during the speeches but it was such a happy day, filled with love. You felt very much a part of it.
Sometimes the grief still hits me unexpectedly like a tidal wave and it floors me. I miss you so much, I always will miss you. But I also know that I have to live my life and make the best of the hand I’ve been dealt, I have so much to be thankful for. I finally have stability with my own beautiful family, the unconditional love and support that I’ve craved since you died.
I hope I’ve made you proud Dad. I’m far from perfect but I’m determined; I will never give up following my dreams. I try to be a kind person and stay true to my values, to pass some of your goodness onto the world.
Happy Birthday Dad, I love you and I’ll miss you forever.
Your little girl