Once was-for my dad.

So my father died. And my frontal lobes fired to fuck. Thursday 7th March, stuck in traffic on way home from work, caught up in my own stupid hippy dilemas. Singing to songs on the radio, sighing, smiling: I asked the universe for a sign. Got home, put the kettle on, texted a friend and got a phone call. My mothers voice, strangely hushed, shocked, stating facts. He’d collapsed, the paramedics were there. Back in the car, quick as you like looking out the window at that same universe, this time not knowing what to wish for. Same as when Dylan died, sentences scattered and unpunctuated storm-clouded my brain. And what sort of daughter am I that I didn’t beg on my knees for God to spare him? Ever the pragmatist, cooly composed I stared simply at the sky and stated i’d be able to handle whatever was for the best. And what does that even mean, ‘handling it’?

Life is shit and life is hard, so my dad died within minutes of us getting there. In the doorway, so we had to step over him. My aunty, the woman I always aspired to be, knew instinctively it was his feet that were upsetting me. She told me not to be afraid or worried because what lay there in our kitchen was not my father but simply his earth suit. And it stuck with me. A phrase coined and comforting and it’s sad to think that she’s had to think of these things in her life, in order to take some comfort.

In that moment, we moved into my mums. As my dad would have wanted and she had requested. The three of us. Looking after each other. And in many ways it feels as though i’ve been sent here to finish something that started in my teens. But what exactly that is, i’ll be fucked if I know.

I dont cry, generally speaking, I dont. Because grief is simply too complicated for that: sadness too intricate, like a network of veins. But I woke one day, from a 30 minute desperate sleep, thinking i’d heard his voice, singing, talking on his phone, in that language I now seldom use. And tears came flooding, sneaked in before my composure could send them packing. It shocks me when I cry, face contorted, head throbbing, because like a tango it comes: quick, quick, slow.

Today we went to see my dad and tomorrow we will bury him. In a tiny room he is the ‘once was’ man, now in a box. And I wont lie, it scared the shit out of me to see him like that. Becuase it’s like a bad horror movie and he might have suddenly moved or opened his eyes and my sanity would have cracked into a thousand tiny pieces like a boiled sweet dropped from a lazy mouth. But my mother, brave, gentle, loving: many things I am not, went over and touched him. Kissed him while my eyes found a sufficiently inane part of the wall to stare at. To see someone you love, legs so thin they could appear lame, skin ashtray grey, mouth set, is a reality sometimes too hard to bare. But in the same way that wriggling, spasming, noisy new born babies look derranged and freakish, the dead in all their warped stillness do too. So I chose not to fear it and to accept it instead: the last page of a book that from start to finish was enthralling and thought provoking in its wisdom.

Seeing your mother fall apart isn’t easy. Knowing she’s in pain is far harder than carrying the burden of your own sadness. And in truth, the whole thing fucks me up. Completely and utterly and imperceptibly. So i’ll quietly and calmly fall to pieces whilst simultaneously carrying on.

So my gangster, the one whose voice I will never hear again on the phone, the first man I ever knew, the funniest geezer to ever walk the earth, the original stoner, my favourite story teller, the guy who could carry volumes of poetry and songs in his head, the forever bad-boy who never had a proper job and once told me that God was big but the boat was small: he died. He no longer exists. He got invited to a party the rest of us aren’t old enough to go to. His heart finished it’s business. His stories now all told. His movie is over. His place on the sofa now vacant. His too-strong salami still in the fridge un-eaten. His absence will always be felt.

If all this death has taught me anything, it’s that life is precious and death unrelentingly and permanently sad. All this fucking grief strips you of the feelings you once held dear, and leaves you only with holes like a badly knitted jumper or a particular kind of cheese. Snatches your plans and your ideas, your delusions of permanence along with the shackles that once tied you to the spot. And what they dont tell you is that ‘bereft’ really means ‘alone’. Because the companionship you have through life is not permanent and although we have feelings for one another, those feelings will change and evolve and come to pass, like the gold of autumn at it’s finest. And it’s confusing, because this year’s love becomes last years joke and every so often you’ll surprise yourself and become someone new without even trying. And it slowly begins to occur to me that having to realise that death exists, is really just a tough and valuable lesson in learning to be alone. Re-defining. Fearless. Drink lots of tea, smoke and be thin. Scoff chips, get fat, grow your hair, run a marathon and wear high heels for no reason at all. Go to the supermarket in your pjs, piss in the garden and laugh when someone tells you a joke. Why? because you might-as-fucking-well.

Be kind, sure yeah, be kind. But just as importantly, be you.

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The opposite of love’s indifference-and other new found songs.

 

Sentences spill out, somewhere punctuated with the word ‘fuck’. A gasp, a sigh, a constant delicious emotional ache. A psychological DOT DOT DOT, pause for thought. A questioning a wondering…a mosquito…a libido. And I’m the biggest fucking idiot that ever lived. I swear I am. Desperate to find a philosophy decent enought to hang this deviational ‘fuck it’ feeling onto. The closest I come is to think that the universe is indifferent…somewhere across the sea there is a culture of love and emotion without boundaries and rules.

And it’s all too much, precisely how I wanted and needed it to be. Because I AM a filthy tart: those that know the best and worst of me, know how true that is. Slutting all over this madly intense feeling because turbulence feeds the fucking life back into me and sticks a stubborn middle finger up at the shit-storm of bad news and dissapointments i’ve endured.  Like i’m finishing off something I started in puberty. A crush on curves and the undulating rhythms of this womanly world. Those ghosts coming back to haunt, taunt and tempt me. Reminding me there are still battles to be fought, urging me up from the sulky slumber and into the crisp morning’s light. Test my courage and my resolve and splatter it like spunk against the unwilling canvas of this modern world trap. And if only I could get my hands on a cock big enough to do the job properly.

If I could split like a fraction and live this life twice, like a time split, a parrallel universe of who I am and what I have: what else would I do? The answer comes thumping like a heartbeat clear, I’d do it ALL. Fucking absorb it all, experience everything. Have my children young and keep living and laughing till I dropped from the dance completely spent. A wild gypsy at heart, and for the life of me I cant think why that term chanted at me from a young age, offended me so much back then. I embrace her now, with all her stupidness and windsept hair. I fucking love her in all her freakish formidable glory, even if no other fucker does. And I’ll be her friend, tight and close and brain-spaced in all out cut-lucidness, like the hanging out of old friends. Like legs dangling from between banisters: teens finding odd new comfortable places to plonk. I’ll deliver a punch like a swinging steam-train into the faces of haters, i’ll defend her life like I never dared before. She needs no other but me and i’ll commit like a cunt, chasing chickens and chumps from her door: my snarling kiwi no longer the cute cockrest it once was. I’ll take my seat on top: perched comfortably like a proud pecking parrot casting my feathers a-wobble as I bounce to my hearts content. Bounce out a rhythm like the typing of a bestseller novel. Dig those ankle bells back out from the well and step out in a daring dance, barefoot and free as a tree. For this life is transient and you must take it up on all it’s offers while you still can.