“I’ll wish, and the thunder clouds will vanish”

You don’t have to read this, I’m mostly talking to myself here. It’s about my dad, and missing people, and feeling very sad because of it.

I’m having some disturbing recurring dreams about my dad. In my dreams, he’s not dead, but he’s not alive either. He is a kind of ghost, but the ghost looks as he did when he was dying, and is trapped in the yellow skin he died in. Other times, he is a tiny, papier maché doll person, shrinking to nothing in a bed. A hospital bed, sometimes, and sometimes, he’s in a bed in a caravan site. There are loads of caravans, and, far back, out in the emptier place, he’s lying there. And I put my arms around him, and he’s so small that they envelope him. The site looks like the one near my house, crossed with the park in Cairnlough that we used to stay on when we were kids.

I wake up small voiced and not knowing what’s real, with the feeling that my dad is dying somewhere and I can’t help him. I hate that I have the entirety of my imagination to play with in my dreams, and yet he’s the image of himself on the day he died. He could be anything, could be my dad back when he had brown hair and a moustache, could even be him hugging me on the day of my confirmation, but he’s not. Although I am glad I was with him on his last night (I was so very nearly too late. And, in the end, I wasn’t even there when he died), I would do anything to erase the memory of him lying there. And I wish I could know if he heard us talking to him that night.

The sadness from waking up has been with me all day. I went out earlier in the rain to get some things for the cats, listening to music. In the street I felt totally overcome with grief, and took myself into a café to try and compose myself. Then, with cruel timing, “When I Live My Dream” by David Bowie came on. It’s the song we played at our dad’s funeral. So I ended up sitting there crying with my hand over my face, trying to make it look as though I was intently studying their menu.

It’s my sister’s birthday today, and Father’s Day in three days, and then my dad’s would-be fiftieth birthday on the 25th. And fifty is like an old age. Well, it’s not old, but it’s an age where I imagine you have grown up children, maybe a grandchild or two. I can’t stop thinking of who my dad might be now, if he’d have kicked the drink if the hospitalisation was just a scare. What he’d look like, how he would have said happy birthday to Michelle and Paula, what I would have got him for his birthday, if we’d all have gone home for it and done something special.

People sometimes have a kind of image of alcoholics- either amusing Oliver Reed types or George Best (who had the same liver problems as my dad, but, because he’s famous, he got a transplant, despite his drinking, and my dad didn’t, and my dad died) or wastrels, abusive wife batterers. My dad wasn’t like that, but I still have horrible memories of his drinking, his shouting and his wild, aggressive depressions. And some good memories, but they’re clouded over and tainted by his alcoholism.

He wasn’t the best dad all the time, but he was a wonderful person who had too much sadness, who destroyed himself and who could be unbearable because of his drinking, but he could not help it, and neither could we. There are different feelings with this because I have the awful guilt that sometimes I wished he was dead because I couldn’t stand to watch him and my family suffer anymore. We had all been through so much and it felt like too much sometimes. I hate myself for that.

I just miss him. I could really have used him to talk to in these past two years.  I have dreamed of dedicating a funny, sad book to my funny, sad dad for years.

It’s a sad day for other reasons and other people today, too. Three years ago today, a friend of mine, Andy, was knocked down in East London. He hung on for a few days, but he died. I haven’t really said anything- I only met him a few times and we mostly spoke online, and I was not as close to him as some of my other friends were- but I’ve been reading others’ feelings on it, and I know his daughter, who’s just a little younger than I am, and she lost her dad. And I remember his funeral, the poetry, the songs and comics, which I experienced through a haze of mania, and the rain that day, and the fearsome lightning. I have one of his comics on my bedroom wall, with my photos. And he is in my thoughts, and so is everybody who loved him, and was loved by him.


9 Responses

  1. Sorry to hear about your down day.I too have had similar dreams.Both my parents died a few years ago (15 months apart) .The weird dream that really bothered me was to do with my Mum where somehow she was brought back to life but only for a short time. It was horrible in that she was going through all the illness stuff that she suffered prior to her death.
    I agree life isn’t fair when you lose someone who is young aswell.
    Take care & hugs.
    Seratonin xxxx

  2. I know, personally, that it can be hard to remember a parent when you know it may make people uncomfortable to talk about it. But you’ve done an admirable job here in paying tribute to your father as a man with all the humanity that that entails and your feelings in relation to the gap that he has left in your life – and if nothing else, I think that’s something that anyone can be incredibly proud of.

  3. Thank you CB 🙂 Serotonin, I’m so sorry to hear that. x

  4. This is a really splendid piece of writing.
    I am sorry that your not having such a good day, anniversaries and memorable dates allways hit me for six (i think thats the right expression but i am not sure)

  5. ‘I know people would let me talk if I asked them too but it feels too much of an imposition, especially when everybody else has their own griefs and problems to cope with. Nobody needs mine, too.’

    I was talking about this with a group of friends today, and you know its not an imposition if you talk to others and open up. I wonder if like me your always saying ‘I’m here for you’ and wanting to be a great support to someone (admittedly, in depression you don’t feel so up to saving the world from their problems, it balances) but its ok to talk these things over with mates. Don’t let the label of someone whose paid to do that to put you off doing similar with those who support you.

  6. ” Who the hell would be proud to have a manic depressive daughter who is still so unstable that she can’t work? ”

    I don’t know your dad, but I’m certain he would be proud that one of his daughters, who has a serious mental illness, is continuing to fight on – she writes inspiring material on serious issues and attempts to challenge the somewhat canonical picture of mental illness (who cares it isn’t published – have you seen some of the crap which gets published thesedays? The worth of words are not measured by the form in which they take) – who has met a wonderful boyfriend who she cares for (yes he cares for you – but you sacrificed your happyness when you moved out to give him space and ‘freedom’ – that’s love) – who has not let the bastards grind her down – who’s gotton through some horrific situation and doesn’t ask for pity, who tried to work even when she was sick, who did’t want to take handouts even when she was without the basic essentials… who continues to have hopes and ambitions despite everything.

    He has a lot to be proud of.

    And so do you.

    And just so you know, although I never had a stereotypical view of alcoholics, I’ve never really been in the thick of a situation where it’s happening to someone close to you – hence when friends who have casually discussed their alcoholic loved-ones I’ve never really understood. You’ve given me an insight through your candid enteries on here.

    That makes me a better person. And I have to thank you for that.

    Thank you.

  7. I also lost my dad just over two years ago. He was older than your dad, and died from different causes, but your line about how you wish he was here to talk to really resonates with me. I still have days where I cry my heart out because I miss him so much.

    Stay strong and remember, your dad would be proud of his girl.

  8. Hi Seanneen

    This was such a heartfelt post, I felt compelled to write.

    I lost my dad last July, and my thoughts have been on him…so I get it. My father also drank and smoked himself to death….so I often feel anger with the pain.

    I chuckled when I read about 50 being old. lol…my dear, I am 55 and dont feel a day over 30! When I think of my dad I think of him as he was when I was younger…as was he. When we lose a parent we love…age is nothing. We need them for all our lives and a huge hole is left when they are gone.

    I want you to know I am thinking of you…and wish you all good things.

  9. Hi Seaneen

    Well, you know my Dad died too – we met just after it had happened and to be honest, not a day goes by when I don’t miss him and am upset that he’s dead. Its been nearly three years now and the hole he left in my life is just as big as it was the day he died. So I don’t think that the way you feel is strange or odd – its a very similar experience for me.

    Just wanted you to know that although I haven’t seen you since you left that awful place we both worked, I still think of you and read your blog and hope to meet up soon – if only to smoke ourselves into a choke and have a giggle.

    Sam x

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