Sunday is always a day of reflection. I’m not religious in any sense, but it would be strange I think if there weren’t a day each week when we stop to pause, look back on our achievements over the last six days, and forward on what we wish to achieve in the following. This Monday more than most others, I’m in a decidedly reflective and thoughtful mood. My plan was to write my piece today on the hilarious and all around bemusing night out I went on a fortnight ago with a large group of friends. They were funnelling, strawing and generally absorbing all colour, flavour and manner of delicious alcoholic beverages, whilst I (in the last strides of Dry January) felt practically Audrey Hepburn levels of saintly sipping my diet lemonade whilst looking on. It was a genuinely fun, amusing, bemusing and self confirming night that I absolutely will share in a few days, but today my minds eye is very specifically drawn to one point.
Today marks what would’ve been my fathers 84th birthday. Whilst my siblings and relatives are posting beautiful collages of pictures on Instagram, Facebook and all other formats (I’ve done the same in the past), I find myself wanting to wind in tighter, and not look at social media at all. There is such a sense of dilemma in life sometimes- in our incredibly lucky, privileged lives as we have them, about privacy. I swing pendulously between the two markers of self preservation and protection, to cathartic sharing and emotional generosity. Whilst on some days I enjoy sending (mostly meaningless) snapshots and messages to other smart devices on other desks and in other attentive hands, there are times when I can feel myself pulling the thick blanket of privacy back over me, insulating my thoughts, nurturing my life, blocking the glimpses with which we can sometimes be so generous to our long lists of ‘followers’ and ‘friends’. Today is one of those days. Whilst I know I would in some strange way enjoy compiling a few of my favourite pictures of my dad, writing a sweet, thoughtful, sincere and honest post about how much I miss him and in how many ways and precious moments- I know it would be… a distraction. A distraction from what today and every birthday, anniversary, loss and birth should be- a time of reflection, and perhaps even quiet celebration. My father is by far the most influential person still on the woman I am and the person I hope to grow to be, having given me the strongest of my strengths and gifts as well as some of my most tender and obvious flaws. How can we hope to truly show and share with people these unspeakable bonds we make? These lifetimes of moments, laughs, tears, handholds, conversations, meals, trips, holidays, walks, worries, celebrations and stories- in a shared post? I know that’s never truly the point, and in many cases it’s for the reward and recognition of kindness and support that floods back through our notifications as a result, which can be a beautiful thing.
Today though, I just wish I could talk to him. I wish I could share so many of the moments and memories I’ve built here with wonderful new friends and intriguing new minds. I wish I could commiserate with him about all the moments I’ve felt as though perhaps I couldn’t get back up… And perhaps my life was only ever meant to be a lukewarm one, not a scorching success. I wish I could just reach for my phone, and bring back into my life with the press of a button a voice and force for tenderness, pragmatism, hope, humour and wisdom, that daily I still momentarily miss and wonder at its absence. What makes this so very bittersweet, is that I’m sure he would be happy. Besides Portsmouth being much too remote from Essex, I believe the realisation of my skills and ambition as a writer, the discovery and study of great poets and films, the embracing of history and contemporary culture wrapped in one, would have brought him a great deal of joy and contentment. (Until our next visit.)
So, today’s my dads birthday… and I did want to share. But more than that, I want to keep him as close to my heart and mind as vividly and as long as humanly possible. I want to cherish each precious gem of memory near to me, as I roll up my sleeves, put on my shoes and carry on. As I continue on this journey, as I work to heal myself, learn from others, dig in to the work at hand, achieve success and continue in self care, I think of him. Not just today, but every day well spent.
Happy birthday to your father! I will pour a glass of wine for him tonight!
Beautifully written tribute. Sometimes the things we don’t share say the most. 💝