Another ‘not quite a poem’ list.
Five things I know about grief.
- Sudden death is a cliche. When my brother broke the news my first thought was, “But he can’t be dead. I only saw him yesterday.”
- Grief is selfish. My second thought was about my wedding and how he wouldn’t walk me down the aisle and how I would never hear his speech. And then I thought about how I’d would never have the chance to make him proud of me. I would carry the weight of his disapproval to my grave.
- Loss is private and there are only so many times you can say “My Dad died. He dropped dead in the street at the age of 67. Yes it was a shock.” Eventually someone asks you how you are and you just say “Fine.”
- There is more than enough anger to go round. I was angry at him, I was angry at myself, I was angry at life. I was angry at my Mother and my brothers because I knew I was the odd one out. I was angry at my children because they got the best of him. I was angry at my beloved because he had a living father and a step-dad to spare. For months I was angry at every man older than 67 because how dare they be alive when my father was dead.
- The dead never leave you. I dreamt of him for years. I dreamed that he was still with us, that he still walked and talked and told jokes and played with his grandchildren and we just didn’t tell him that he was dead and that he shouldn’t still be here. And every time I would wake up and feel that loss again.
I know some people who have amazing dreams every night. I am not one of them. I don’t always remember my dreams and when I do they’re usually either boring or confusing. However just occasionally I wake up thinking “I must tell everyone about this”. So here I am.
Last night I dreamt that I went to the launch party for voice-controlled, customisable, animated tattoos. At first no-one could work out what to do with them until someone suggested fake facial hair.
Everyone agreed that this was pure genius. You could shout “handlebar” and have an instant drawn-on looking handlebar mustache that swished when you talked. You could have a skinny little mustache like David Niven or Clarke Gable. You could have Elvis style sideburns. We were having a great time but everyone was searching for the perfect activation and deactivation command. We needed a simple command that would switch off the system. It’s bad enough to have sudden sideburns while talking to the in-laws if you’re a man but if you’re a woman it’s liable to cause ructions.
I was racking my brains for a word that might occur in a situation where I definitely wouldn’t want to explain my humorous drawn on facial hair. Then I had a sudden vision of helping the police with their inquiries. The police would definitely take a dim view of such shenanigans.
“Officer!” I shouted. Suddenly convinced that any time I used that word I wouldn’t want facial hair resembling the V for Vendetta mask. I hadn’t intended to shout it, or even say it out loud. I was embarrassed because everyone at the party turned to look at me.
Then Stephen Fry said, “Yes! Officer is the perfect word. I’m sorry, Officer, what comedy mustache are you referring to. It must have been a trick of the light.”
And suddenly everyone was patting me on the back and agreeing that I was some kind of genius. Thank you imaginary Stephen Fry.