Perhaps the most touching moment at my dad's funeral yesterday was when a member of his art club gave me this sketch of him she drew in the late 90s and had kept hold of all these years. Seeing his face when I opened the folder made me cry, predictably.
I know it's an obvious thing to say in the circumstances and being given the drawing underlined it, but I want him back. The last few years were overwhelmed by his illness and robbed us of time, both during and after it. The breaks in the clouds were few and far between and, while we did all we could to steer him through what we could control, we were ultimately defeated, which is a shit way to end the story, but then that's life. And now I'm trapped in a situation I know would have upset him deeply that I have to navigate in his memory and could do without the pressure on top of the grief. But that's a story for another time.
There was a lot to treasure yesterday, despite the difficultness. Firstly, the church was packed. In the last few days, I received numerous emails from his friends and colleagues, many of whom were shocked to hear the news and planned to be there. Two guys he worked with when he briefly disappeared to Scotland to test the telecommunications on a Navy destroyer (as you do) drove all the way from Bristol to attend. In the pub afterwards, I chatted to everyone from a man who used to get on the back of his motorbike with him when they were teenagers to a few of the mates we went on holiday with when I was younger, and everyone only had good words to say. This kindness helped.
My main focus until I reached it was to deliver a eulogy that would do him justice and make him proud, and I'd like to think I did that. It was a performance to him, really, as I knew he'd be on my side. He'd given me so much encouragement after comedy gigs through the years, so I knew he would have appreciated and enjoyed it. Once I got past it, the enormity of the occasion began to seep through, but this was only natural. Losing your dad isn't easy; especially one as supportive as mine.