When I think of my Dad now, I think of peace.
Dry humour, cracking wit and a wry smile.
Porridge with honey and blueberries, pancakes with lemon and sugar.
When I hear Bowie sing of 'Sorrow', now, I understand more than I ever have done before. "I never knew just how much I missed you, sorrow, sorrow."
Everything I care for dearly, everything I have passion and love for was influenced by my Dad.
Music, art, life... every last little bit of it.
I feel eternally grateful that he came to see my art studio, even if only for the first and last time.
Bemused, overwhelmed but ultimately elated, after huffing and puffing from a sore hip, my Dad turned to me and taking his phone from his coat pocket, asked warmly "Stand just in the middle there, let me take your photo."
There I am with frizzy curls and a beaming smile, proudly showing off everything I've built in honour of him.
"You've got to get your own unit" he'd say.
I remember warm Saturdays driving down with my Mom and Jack to his unit, Telford or maybe Wolverhampton (which both felt like the Dark Ages) that I now come to know as 'Auto Valet', from a keyring of his I'd discovered days ago tucked away in a bedroom drawer.
Rays of sunlight would cast across rows of squeaky clean cars, each so glossy I could see my tiny face reflected back at me with ease.
Engine oil pooled in pot holes on the entryway, blossoming delicate rainbows from the hot sticky tarmac.
When I think of my Dad now, I smile.
A dozen baseball caps, twenty pairs of reading glasses, hundreds of CDs. A songbook by Bob Dylan... hidden inside, a college report card stating 'Stephen must concentrate harder...'
Travel books on Southern France, on nature and the English countryside.
Beer and strange spirits I don't quite like the taste of.
A warm blanket.
I grow to miss my Dad more and more with each passing day and as many others have said before me I imagine it will become easier with time.
Rather than simply 'getting over' grief, you learn to live with it and it becomes a foundational part of you, shaping who you are.
Grief is meant to be a kind of love that has nowhere to turn.
You must grow around it, tall, confident and blooming outwards like a sunflower with a few lost petals.
I love my Dad, definitively, in spite of all his neuroses, hang ups and quirks.
Cans of soup in date order, letters unopened and piled high.
My Dad was a blessing, a gem, a mystery.
My introduction to Aladdin Sane and Abbey Road.
Late nights and early mornings.
Often offhand, often grumpy, I'll think of you always.
Published in Grief (In Few Forms)