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No Matter How Much Time Has Passed, The Loss Of My Father Still Aches In My Chest

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Nick Wilkes

On the 20th of June, it will be four years since my father died of a stroke. Four long, brutal, painful years, that I have absolutely no clue how I managed to survive. Somehow, I managed to go for four years without slitting my wrists or jumping in front of a moving bus. Somehow, I managed to use my pain as armour instead of making use of it as a weapon for self-destruction. I am here today, still breathing, making mistakes but still making it to the next day without drowning in the black hole that my father’s absence left in my life.

That sounds like a miracle. That sounds like something I wouldn’t have believed was possible if you had told me this four years ago.

See, I do have daddy issues. It’s no secret. Everybody knows that. Like, everyone. I have been open about my pain for a long time now. Hell, I even wrote and published a book about grief, my soul bared wide open for the whole world to see because I could no longer keep the pain buried inside me anymore. It’s out in the open, it’s clear as daylight.

I have daddy issues and, I am completely unashamed to admit this.

Zero f*cks given.

I won’t be rosy and shallow about death. I won’t say things like it will get better because let’s face it; we both know it won’t.

How do you forget about a missing limb? A face tattoo? A siren that never stops ringing?

The people who say that grief is an excuse to host pity parties and acquire sympathy clearly don’t know what it feels like to experience loss.

If you know loss, you know that there is a mark that grief leaves which cannot be rubbed off.

I have sat for hours in front of the mirror, looking at my face and the fact that it is so similar to my father’s, and I have tried to coax my imagination into being my accomplice, in helping me picture him looking back at me. It sounds like insanity, but grief makes you do things, any number of things, that might bring even the tiniest bit closer to your dead loved one. Oh, we know they can’t come back. We know they can’t be resurrected.

But we sure as hell do try.

When people look at me and say you look exactly like your father I feel divided between ecstasy and devastation. Delighted to be his clone, but painfully aware that it’s not the same thing as having him around.

It’s like having a photograph of a rose. You can look at it for as long as you like, but you will never be able to hold it, feel its texture, get pricked by its thorns, be comforted by its petals, smell its fine fragrance, water it, cherish it, protect it.

All you can do is stare. Eyes raw with a hunger that never dies.

And to add insult to injury, every year Father’s Day is always a couple days before his death anniversary. It’s like I am presented a full course meal when being served grief. Starters, main course, dessert. The commercials and adverts start early, sometimes even as early as March, and as June opens its doors all you see everywhere is don’t forget Father’s Day is coming up.

I don’t need reminders. Lucky me; I have two days that remind me to be a sad hag. They are dedicated to me sitting and drenching my t-shirt with tears.

I wrote a poem today. I wrote a lot of poems today, while sitting and reminiscing about everything that my brain could think of. Most days I try to keep a check on my thoughts, making sure that I don’t sink into despair, because believe me; I can sink very easily. You just don’t see it happening as an obvious visual because I’m a master of concealing it. I could be writhing in agony on the inside and all you would see on the outside is my lopsided smile as I eat a burrito and tell you elephant jokes.

It might sound odd but I am at my most weakest, and strangely the strongest, version of myself in June. Not that I am ecstatic every other day, not that I am deeply sad on every other day, but this month brings back memories of finality. I cannot remember and yet I cannot forget so many things. This conflict eats away inside me, and gets blended in my poetry. I write about loss, death, grief and pain a lot more now than I do on other occasions, simply because it is healing to me, now more than ever. It is how I connect with my dead father. My writing helps me arrange my broken pieces orderly in front of me. My writing helps me listen more clearly to the screams and the songs raging away inside my heart and in my head.

I miss him, I miss my father, I do. I really do. God knows how much I do.

So I write selfishly in June. I write for me. I write for my pain. I write to somehow resurrect my father, at least in my writing, again. TC mark



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