On this day, March 12th, 16 years ago, my dad died.
Now that’s a day you’d think I’d probably remember.
But I don’t.
The day itself, the events of it, I can recall to some extent. I was only 7. My dad was sat on the settee having a cup of tea in his white England shirt. It was a Monday morning. I was watching TV (Pokemon, I think) and having breakfast, then I went upstairs to get ready for school. A normal morning.
Until my mam started shouting and then it goes a bit hazy. She was screaming his name and my brother, who was only 11, had to ring the ambulance and I was instructed to stay upstairs and I didn’t really have any idea what was going on. My dog was running about outside and I was concerned about her running away but she soon came home and my next door neighbour came in to watch me and my brother while my mam went in the ambulance with my dad.
And then my life changed forever.
I remember standing at the top of the stairs, listening to what was happening downstairs, thinking ‘what if he died? No. No, that’s silly. He’s only just unconscious or something.’ I watched a lot of Casualty back then. I thought I knew a lot of important, big words about stuff like that. Obviously not.
My mam came home from the hospital with my uncle and my grandparents at some point in the afternoon, sat me and my brother down and told us he had died.
The rest of the day is a bit hazy. I stayed off school for only 2 or 3 days, I didn’t go to the funeral, I eventually got on with life again.
In some ways, I suppose I’m quite lucky that this happened to me at such a young age. I don’t remember my dad all too well. I know he was a good dad, I know he was a good husband, and of course I wish he was still here today. But I don’t really know anything other than life without him. Apart from having that father figure, I don’t think I’ve missed out on anything in life. My mam has gone out of her way to provide and support me and my brother, but having only her is the only think I know now.
But I still miss my dad, and I wish I’d gotten the chance to know him, for him to know me. Of course I do.
But I still forget this day sometimes. It can pass me by and it will be weeks later when I realise it’s passed and I didn’t mark it in some way, even just by thinking about it.
And then I feel immensely guilty. Because it’s an anniversary. And I should feel sad on this day, and remember my dad on this day. But… I don’t.
This day is just a day to me. It’s not a special day. Yes, it’s the day he died, but nowadays, March 12th doesn’t have any particular meaning. I miss him all the time, but I don’t miss him any more on the anniversary of his death.
It’s just a day.
I miss him at night, when I sometimes think about imaginary scenarios where there’s been some huge mix up and a big conspiracy and he’s not actually dead but was in hiding or some other far-fetched situation. But he can come back home and everything is great again. Or I miss him when it’s my graduation, or I’m thinking about my career, or I’m making big life decisions like should I jet off to the other side of the world. I miss him then because I don’t know if he’d be proud of me. Part of me does know, and part of me knows that he would always be proud of me in some way for something or other, and my mam is fond of telling me and my brother just how proud he would be of us. But you never know. I miss him when I miss my old dog, and wonder if there maybe is a heaven and they’ve been reunited and would she somehow recognise him after 13 years without him. I miss him when I think of my mam, and how lonely she must be sometimes, what with me and my brother growing up and moving out. She hasn’t remarried or even dated anyone else, and I think of her, and the dog, a little duo, always going shopping alone, or planning holidays alone, or just spending the night in front of the TV alone.
But I don’t miss him on March 12th. A day is a just a day, and it doesn’t, or shouldn’t, dictate how you feel. Does that make sense?