I'm 13, it's a sunny Christmas morning and my Dad dies, exhausted and consumed by a cancer that was strong enough to steal this mans life, his future.
I try to forget him, to let him go. It's too much, too hard to remember the good times, so instead my teenage angst and terrible grief leave me with only the sickness, the sadness, the dead father. It hurts, mostly in my heart but often in my head.
But this isn't about losing him, it's about finding him again.
So years later I'm an adult and I'm staring at my now grown brother up brother across the dinner table.
He says - Can you not be so creepy?
I say - Sorry, it's just - do you know who you look like?
And he smiles and says - Well I have been told I resemble a fuller faced Eddie Vedder
And I say - What? No, oh, well, maybe, sort of....No, I mean, you look like Dad.
He looks a bit surprised, then smiles, proud, says - Well that's good.
And I can see that my Dad lives on, here in the face of his son.
Later that year my first child is born. The moment I meet him, I know him. I recognise him. He is of me and I am of him. For the first time in a long time, I feel my Dad, alive, in me, in my child.
Finally, my daughter. This little, amazing girl, who shrieks with joy when she sees her Dad, who welcomes him home each day by barreling into his legs and throwing her arms around him. So I remember what it is, for a girl to love her Dad. She looks at him like he is the best man alive, her strong, funny Dad. And he gathers her up, holds her close and loves her because, for him, she is the best little girl in the world. And I remember. That was me. How lucky I was to be so loved. How wonderful now, to bear witness to it all again.
How good it is, to remember.
(This was a spoken word piece I did last night at Wild Words, an open mike night for writers. It got a wonderful response from the crowd and I am still walking on air a day later! I felt very nervous to read it, for it's truth and it's emotion, but, I'll be honest, I totally nailed it ;))