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Today, as I write this, it is my Daddy’s birthday. He would have been 57 years old. 5 years ago we were watching him blow out his candles.  I’m pretty sure the cake was pink, because he didn’t believe in eating blue food and the bakery only sold either blue ‘boys’ cakes, or pink ‘girls’ ones. So, pink it was!  Less than 6 weeks later he would be gone. Just like that. Forever. It was devastating, hard to believe and heartbreaking.  Really heartbreaking.  And not just the dying part, but the days leading to his death that just smothered your heart like thick smoke, making it hurt until you cried.  And then you would sit there for days upon days wondering how your body could actually make so many tears!  It’s quite unbelievable!  5 years on it is still tough.  People think you should ‘get over it’ or maybe not even be so upset about it in the first place.  Who am I to act so distraught.  He wasn’t my child, or life partner.  He was my parent, a sick parent at that.  Parents are meant to die before their children, right?  And because he battled a terminal illness, it should have been expected at some point, right?  No, no that is not right…

I used to speak to him on the phone nearly every day.  Maybe for a minute, maybe for an hour.  He never judged me.  He always had the right words.  Nothing but pure love and adoration came from him and as selfish as it is, that is definitely one of the things I miss the most. Sure, he didn’t always agree with my big ideas or choices I made (yes, I am still sorry for defacing my body with tattoos Dad lol), but he always supported me through them regardless.  Always.  And he made me laugh like no one else.  Oh, how he made me laugh.  The #funnynotfunny Dad jokes, his quick wit and inappropriate humour.  Far out was he funny! Today I was thinking about how he used to ring and leave voicemail messages on my phone, singing Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’.  And let me tell you, he was no singer lol.  But to hear the man that forever holds your heart on the other end of the line, gasping for air between most words because he literally could not catch his breath (fuck you pulmonary fibrosis), yet still singing on because he KNEW how much it made your day, that was truly special.  And for moments like that I know exactly how lucky I am to have called him my father and to have had the bond that we had….

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Much of what he did was special, or hilariously ridiculous – one of the two! I’ve never seen someone so sick, in so much pain and discomfort, yet who laughed and poked fun at their situation so much. Despite it all, he remained grateful.  He always said things could be worse, and that there was always someone out there doing it tougher than he was – he would proclaim to be one of the luckiest guys on earth.  His attitude to life was an admirable one, so much so that at his funeral he wanted us to play Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’.  Inappropriate for a funeral some may so, but it couldn’t have been more perfect for his.

He always had a great way of looking at things.  The tattoos I mentioned above – he would tell me that I was so absolutely perfect exactly the way I was, every freckle, every curl, that I need not make any changes to my appearance – particularly permanent ones lol.  As a young girl, he, along with my Mum, would tell me that the grades I got at school weren’t important, but the comments the teacher’s wrote about my behaviour and effort did.  As I grew up and faced tough decisions about life and my career, I would always talk them through with him.  He would tell me that I already knew the answers, I just had to listen and trust my instincts.  And if that failed I should perhaps write out a positive and negative table regarding the scenario at hand – full of wisdom he was!  So wise! And funny – did I mention that already?

So, 5 years on and grief comes and goes like a pet cat – one minute it is right there sitting on your chest, and the next minute it walks away, but not before flicking you with it’s tail.  And then it’s back trying to sit over your face while you feel like you are suffocating beneath it.  You know when you go for a swim in the ocean and you are frolicking in the water, calmly minding your own business, and the next minute a wave comes crashing down and you feel yourself getting pulled under?  In an instant you go from bobbing along with the tide feeling like all is going okay (even if your feet slip from time to time), to being sucked under, further and further down, drowning and feeling like you won’t make it back up.  That is grief.  Grief is a bitch.  Like everything, there is a positive though.  To experience these feelings means that at some point you were unbelievably blessed to have a very special person in your life – whether that was for a short time or a lifetime.  Not everyone is so lucky, and for that you should be grateful.  When it all feels too much, and I feel that wave of grief coming, I sit, and I reflect, and I remember to be grateful.  Truly truly grateful.  Not only for all the amazing moments and memories and the relationship we had, but for the gifts I was given throughout these tough times – the lessons, the self-discovery, the altered appreciation for life.  Grief is a bitch, but gratitude prevails.  Happy birthday Daddy…

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Krystal Gordon

Krystal Gordon, creator of self-care program Love Nourish Be and global ambassador for the Body Image Movement, is extremely passionate about empowering women to be their most amazing, authentic selves using an honest, holistic and heart-centred approach to wellness. After a lifetime of being at war with her body, this busy Mama transformed her life (and health) through self-love, acceptance and vulnerability, and along the way discovered her true purpose of inspiring other women to do the same.

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