Star Man — Processing Loss

A Personal Account of Losing My Hero

“My greatest fear in life now, is to get to an age where I can say ‘It has been 23 years since I lost my Dad.’ To live the same amount of life without my Dad as I did together.”

I’m setting out to play a lingual based game of Operation. Prying deep into my own heart and head; bearing all for you to read. Unloading the ups, the downs and the outright heartbreaking thoughts that my noggin holds dear. Why? Because sometimes the best thing to do, is to swing open the doors, assess your contents, then organise it back into neat, manageable zones. So humour me.

Having been in love at a young age, I thought that when University came and the relationship shattered, I’d felt heartbreak. But when you lose a parent; out of the blue, you soon discover that nothing you’ve ever felt, hurt even close.

My Dad was an incredibly solid foundation of my childhood. One of the two fundamental pillars to any happy memory I ever experienced. He fixed everything. He knew everything. He was invincible.

Obviously the harsh reality of life, is that we have no control over "life." There is no such thing as invincibility and your entire haven can be burst in less than a day. Your basecamp is halved. Your sense of mortality is slapped straight into your immediate vision. You’re altered.

What’s worse is when you’re present when everything goes south. When it takes place inside the same family home you’ve had every happy memory in. When you’re powerless to a horribly un-ravelling situation. When you have the most important family hug, around a bed your younger selves once opened christmas presents in.

I think for me, everything happened too fast for my mind to process. It did not feel real. Instead I kept believing, as cliché as it sounds, that a shake of my head would bring me out of the nightmare. But, my entire family and I were locked into this one. An evening that started normally, quickly became a series of worsening panics. Beeping. Muffled voices. Blue lights. Then the man in green entered; speaking words I’ll never forget.

I’ve always been a deep-thinking person. Baffled by the premise of death. One day someone can walk the earth, the next it’s impossible to get ahold of them. Paths, pubs, and clothes that once accommodated someone, will never again. A mobile number without an owner. Everything connected with them is just left with a big hole. It’s a really weird feeling to grasp.

However, grieving for them is now the tough latter. This is to become your "new normal." A world you have not ever been in before. A towering protective barrier has been removed and you now feel as though all responsibilities fall through onto you. That you’ll need to know the answer to everything. Be capable of sorting all. To do it all alone.

I’m honoured to have such a close-knit circle of family and friends. They came to all of our aid with incredibly kind and "un-thankable" gestures. They’ve all made it clear that they are here for us all and I will never ever doubt that. However, I quickly learned that this is the first problem in life that will never have a fix. No amount of people can bring you what you truly want. A few weeks down the line, the calls stop coming and the check ups naturally become less frequent. You’re left to believe that time is getting on and that you must start to get over them. “The world carries on.”

You’re to now stand at work and pretend that the issues there matter more than what’s controlling your head; battling out-of-the-blue daydreams. You’re to now smile and nod when everyone informally asks "how you’re doing." You’re now to take comfort in thinking "They’re in a better place." You’re to re-cap you’re life into moments that you shouldn’t have wasted arguing or being on your phone. You’re to realise what actually matters in life, in comparison to what you’re distracted into thinking does. Home videos now have a deeper layer of meaning to them. You begin to reminisce in both sad and happy ways.

You also now feel way more attached to those who are such a big part of your current life. Those who spend most days just being there for you. My mom, my siblings, my friends, and of course my partner. It’s a weird feeling to explain, but there’s a constant need to want to hold on to them all even more. Words and moments are treasured fully and you can’t quite believe how lucky you are to have had their upmost support. It’s a feeling you’ll never truly feel like you’ve thanked them enough for.

My greatest fear in life now, is to get to an age where I can say "It has been 23 years since I lost my Dad." To live the same amount of life without my Dad as I did together. I know it will come and I’m scared of it feeling normal without him. There’s a lot of moments, in my life to come, that my Dad will not get to experience with me. I try to hold onto the fact that he saw me and my siblings do so much already and that’s more than some others get. But I know a day will come when I wish I could pass my baby son or daughter into his arms.

A new wave of anxiety now runs through me. Realising now that those things can happen to you and others around you. Nothing in my life is taken for granted anymore, but also I now rarely feel settled.

Counsellors will tell you that grieving works in stages. Neat little bullet points that you chronologically work through. However, I’d say you tackle those points in the same motion as a yo-yo. One day you’re in the denial stage, only to be back in it a week later. I wake up angry. I wake up sad. I wake up and walk downstairs on a Saturday morning to find all of my family in their usual places and have the occurring realisation that my Dad won’t be sat in his. I have dreams that I can hear him talking in the other room, but the door won’t open. I have dreams of him just sat in his chair and I’m simply hugging or staring at him. It’s not a time to pretend you’re ok, because to be honest it’s bloody tough. Even writing this piece has left me feeling…"off." Dipping in, writing chunks then leaving it for weeks. I can only write in a non-sensical order as there’s no clear outline of how to vent this out.

At his service I wrote some words to be read. We all have idols. Living or late. Some we personally know, or some we truly admire from the other side of a screen. I wrote about how Dad had died the same year as one of his all time idols, David Bowie. How he’d aptly fallen into the year that took so many legends. The morning after he passed, something drove me to play "Star Man" on my laptop. I sat and listened to it on repeat for most of the day. I don’t know what I believe in when it comes to the after life. I don’t really sit on either side of the fence. But something in that moment and now whenever I listen to that song, makes me feel like he is with me. I can’t help feeling there’s a brilliant new meaning to the line within the song:

"There’s a Star Man waiting in the Sky."

I may not walk into rooms and physically look up to you for advice and admiration. However, when times are tough or I think of something that reminds me of you, I will look up and be guided by the guidance you’ve already installed in me.

There’s no neat way to round up a piece like this. No conclusion. The feelings will never end in any certain way. Even when it has been 23 years since, I will still be a mix-match of feelings.

Nothing truly fills the hole that you gain when losing someone. But so long as you breathe and live with them in your mind and memories; I believe you never truly lose someone.

“I will never ever forget the perfect life you provided and the years you shared with me.”

Now Reading
Star Man — Processing Loss