Sunday, 17 June 2012

Just another day

It's Father's Day. It's just another day. Another made-up Hallmark holiday designed to cash in on dad instead of mum.

I used to love it. I used to spend months choosing my dad's birthday/Christmas/Father's Day present. He was the only person who has ever been able to instinctively get presents totally perfect for me. Shopping for him was a dream. I just knew what he would like. Knew what would make him smile.

Since he died I've bought loads of things for him in my head. This year would have been an iPad 3 and a Kindle - the new one without the keyboard. He would've got such a kick out of the tech around today. He'd definitely have a tablet, a smartphone and a fast as fuck gaming PC.

I have got into the habit of blanking out the approach to Father's Day, his birthday and Christmas. Because for the first few years after his death, I would find myself compelled to continue to buy cards for him. When I moved I found a sad little pile of Father's Day cards and Happy Birthday Daddy cards. All in their sellophane. I kept them because at the time it helped somehow to pretend, just for a second. And I was also in that weird magical thinking loop that comes with grief. For years there was the feeling that maybe I'd turn a corner and he'd be there, or that if I continued as normal and bought him a Christmas present, somehow he'd come for them one day. I would also only buy the kind of diary that he bought me just before he died and

That doesn't happen anymore. Neither does seeing him in the street and following him. This used to happen a fair amount. I'd see him from behind and find myself speeding up to follow him. Eventually the guy would turn around and I'd see that it, of course, wasn't him. And I'd have to slow down and pretend to the poor man that I wasn't some crazed stalker. I don't think: "Sorry to be so obviously running after you, but you look a bit like my dead dad from behind, can I just hang out with you for a bit and pretend?" would go down particularly well.

Coming up to Father's Day the year he died was unbelievably painful. You just don't notice the amount of marketing and advertising until you really don't want to be reminded of something. I didn't know where to look to avoid seeing the words Dad, Daddy, Father. It felt like the entire world was screaming in my face: HE'S DEAD, DEB. DEB, HE IS DEAD. Like a sadistic Holly from Red Dwarf. DEAD HE IS, DEB.

Over the years these things have faded, but I think it's more a process of learning to live with it than ever 'getting over it'. Packing it away inside your head and only really looking at the edges of it when you feel strong enough. It's basically the equivalent of screaming LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU  in your head.

This year I've been pretty OK up to Father's Day. Until today, which is not too shabby. A few stabs of agony is manageable.

And it is, after all, just another day.

Happy Father's Day dad. x



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