I was at university in America and I was terribly homesick, so my dad had been ringing me every morning, telling me funny stories to cheer me up. On the Friday, he said, ‘I’ll call you Monday.’ But he died on the Sunday, October 2nd. When Monday morning came and the phone didn’t ring, I knew he was gone forever.
Earlier this year, as a result of a blog post, I wrote a feature about my dad for The Guardian, and that led to someone contacting me and sending me a photo of him as a boy soldier. I can’t tell you how much that photo means to me. And yet the closer I have got to putting together the missing jigsaw pieces of his life, the more acutely I miss him.
Grief affects people differently. When my dad died, even though my heart felt as though it had broken into a thousand pieces, I just got on with it – my coping mechanism took over. But as those of you who have been bereaved will know only too well, the pain of losing a loved one, of longing to hear their voice or hug them never goes away. It is always there.
So, 24 years today since I lost my dad. But it still feels like yesterday.