So for a really long time I’ve wanted to right about my dad’s death, and for some it’s a really therapeutic method of keeping a connection with those that have died. But for me I just couldn’t do it. He had such a way with words and the English language engulfed his life in so many ways – the pressure of writing to him or about him overwhelmed me. But I also know that there are others my age who have suffered similar loses and have written beautifully on it – so here is my attempt to explain the hole in my life that is the death of my father Alan Small.
I want to focus on Christmas time and how this time of year, specifically and frankly unsurprisingly, really smacks me in the face with the fact that he is dead. My first full blown and worst anxiety attack to date was the Christmas in the year he had died. I had come home from university for the holidays and was excited to see everyone on the surface. Underneath – unknown to myself- there was a huge amount of pain and angst that came to a climax one night. I will never forget that feeling. I won’t forget that feeling of fear and panic when I thought I was having a heart attack. Everything went black and I almost passed out, my mum half carried me upstairs then put me to bed where I tried to sleep but my heart was pounding so hard. The rest of that Christmas is a complete blur of alcohol to try and soothe the pain and subsequent onslaught of crippling anxiety. When I look back at pictures from that Christmas I barely remember anything of it, I see myself in the pictures attempting to smile, gripping onto to a sofa with nothing behind the eyes.
It is not just because that within December there is my birthday, Christmas and Hogmanay – all celebrations, which revolve around the idea of reflection – that makes me think of him. It is that these are events which require a host – and try as I might I cannot yet fill the enormous shoes Alan left. I miss the speeches he gave, the laughter he pulled from even the hardest people and having another person to badger my mum to make roast potatoes.
Dad was never into presents, he grew up during the war in a house with not a lot of money and lots of siblings so presents weren’t high on the to-do list. He valued people and their time more than gifts – a concept which I can very much say had no sway with 7 year old me. I still remember on my 17th birthday dad had forgotten my “one gift I really wanted” which I am mortified to say was a Jack Wills hoodie (hey those where different more preppy times okay!) and stormed up town and fought his way through Jack Wills to get it for me. At the time the gesture and the magnitude of it was lost on me. Low lit, ultra friendly, over priced clothing stores were dads idea of hell on earth, so for him to do this for me was a real show of selflessness.
I now see the depth and value of what he tried to teach seven year old Lucy very clearly now. What I would give to tell him that now. But I can’t. I have my absolute saint of a mother, my huge family, friends and many others that I know and care for but I will still forever yearn for the “Small boy in the corner”.