– Buckle up, this one’s gonna be emotional & probably not well written…A year ago on the 21st, I was getting ready to host the pre-Freshers quiz at university. Seconds before we walked out the door (late as usual), my big sister rang. I had a weird feeling as soon as I saw her name on the screen, because we text, we don’t often do phone calls. I answered the phone to the news that my Dad had been found dead in his home. At 22 years old, I had not really experienced death, other than that of my Great Grandparents when I was too young to understand. I had never even been to a funeral, and yet here I was having to try to help organise one, for my own father. The whole period was a horrific blur, however, somehow I never missed a class or a responsibility, & didn’t cry in front of anyone but my boyfriend. The day after I found out was Welcome Sunday, where I was supposed to move in my new Freshers and undertake my role as a Student Assistant. Despite it being suggested that I take the day off, I knew that it was important that my Freshers knew who I was and felt as welcomed as every other student on campus would be. I managed to work the whole day, and only cried when I was alone, or when friends snuck me off to my room to bring me chocolate, McDonalds and hugs. I had so much support and love around me, I was so lucky. No one could understand why I didn’t go home, but going home would make it real. In fact, I didn’t go home until the day before the funeral. It was suggested that I defer third year, and pick it up in 2015. I vehemently refused this. The only thing that would do would be to make the future that much harder, I needed to carry on. Being so far from home, however, meant I felt useless. My poor sister, as next of kin, had to organise the funeral & my Dad had not left any money to help with this – it was all a bit of a mess. I couldn’t be on my own, particularly in the room where I found out, and only spoke to a very close few friends. I’ve developed anxiety issues, which cause me to panic before going to bed about dying in my sleep and to question what on earth life is all about.
My Dad was a good man. Grumpy as hell, and lacking in tact. However, he had a good heart and hilariously bad table manners. From him I inherited my dodgy bowels and my sense of humour about them. I can’t remember a boxing day that I didn’t spend with him and my sister and so Christmas 2013 was weird and tinged with sadness. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t see each other a whole lot and I’d often forget to phone him, but he was my Dad & I loved him very much.
It’s horrifically ironic that the few weeks before he died were some of the best in recent years. He had received a payout from the army, and could finally afford to treat himself to things everyone else takes for granted. He bought himself a car (the first he’d had in years) and a new television and sent my sister and I money, just because. Money can’t buy you happiness but it can make a pretty brassic life temporarily sweeter. As much as it may suck that he died just when things were getting good, it’s also a relief to know he was probably the happiest he had been in a very long time.
One thing that I am infinitely grateful for, is that he and Steven had a chance to meet. It meant that when Steven accompanied me to the funeral, he knew the man we were crying for, even just a little. It also means that I know my Dad has met the man I hope to spend the rest of my life with (Vom!).
It’s been a hard year, particularly when I re-remember that he’s gone and that there’s nothing I can do about it. However, it drove me to my hardest working year ever, finishing uni with a first class honours degree and a scholarship. But most importantly it taught me to appreciate the people I love and tell and show them as much as possible.
Image Source: seyed mostafa zamani, Flickr