Happy birthday, dad

Happy birthday, dad.

Sorry I'm a little late, today wasn't easy.

Mum and I went to your grave. Emily dropped us off. You're in with grandad, by the way. Emily didn't tell us she'd gone out the day before and decorated your plot as a surprise. There's still no headstone yet; we're waiting for Sarsfield. It takes time, I think.

Anyway, you'd smile with what Emily had done. Funny, you used to think she didn't like you. I think you two just spoke different languages.

I love you, dad. I miss you so much. I'm sorry for not talking much at your grave today. I think I'm still self-conscious about it, almost as if I'm embarrassed. Missing you and loving you isn't anything to be embarrassed about. You're my dad.

Mum and I went to that Old Tavern in the Swan you wanted to go to. You'd have hated it. Mum got a shandy. I wanted to get a Guinness in your memory but I can't drink it, it makes me sick. Nothing against Guinness; all lager, beer—and whatever the other classifications—make me sick. Physically vomit. I'm sorry. To Guinness and to you, dad.

They weren't serving food today, only Thursday–Sunday. Mum and I thought we'd get something from the chippy for you instead.

Old Tavern was playing The Beatles, mum was saying how you two used to always sing When I'm Sixty Four to each other. She's sad you didn't make it to 64, but still loves you and needs you.

Mum lit a candle for you. Lit a few, actually. One shines on a framed photo of you we have on a shelf in the hall. It's one of the only pictures we have of you. I really wish you'd let me take more.

She says the photo is how she wants to remember you: happy, healthy, and free.

We miss you so much.

I've cried a lot for you tonight. I've cried a lot for you since February. This is killing me.

Emily asked if we wanted to have a smoke in your honour. I really wish you knew how much she cared about you.

Afterwards, we put on Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke. I know you loved these films. I wish we'd been able to watch one together.

I feel like this is one of the only connections I have to you. I finally understand how much you were struggling. I'm sorry for not understanding then.

I wish you were here. I really need you right now. I'm really struggling. I need my dad.

I hope you're out of pain. I hope seeing how much pain we're all in doesn't hurt you. Just know you were always, and will always be loved.

I love you so much, dad. Happy birthday, I hope it was a good one.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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