March Forth on his 64th

My christening 1984
"Please at all times be good to yourself. Life really is the better choice; meant to be enjoyed, not endured...." 

"I just woke up at 4 am and felt the need to write this to you. I love you lots, and always will, whatever you do and whenever you do it. I want only the best for you and your sisters." 

Those are quotes from emails my father wrote me. This week I have not been listening. I have not heeded his advice. I have not been good to myself. I have been isolating and for one 36 hour stretch I left the house only once.

Today is March 4th 2014, which would have been my father's 64th birthday. As I've written before, my father's birthday was also his motto: March Forth. I have adopted it as my own. And yet, I haven't been marching anywhere this week. I have been stuck in the mud and I haven't even struggled to remove myself. I've allowed it to wash over me and pin me down. I've barely picked up the phone when people have called me, let alone reached out for help. After years of battling the Black Dog (as Winston Churchill called his depression) I have tools that I can use to help me, but did I use them this week? No. It's because sometimes the path out just seems too hard. and requires too much energy. Sometimes I feel like I belong here. Stuck in the mud.

Mum and Dad in the early days
And then today comes along and I remember that I was loved. That I am loved. Although my parents separated when I was 14, their love for their children and each other was so strong that, even through other romantic relationships, they remained the best of friends. As a family we spent birthdays and holidays together years after their divorce and my mother was by his and our side when he passed. I look at these photos I've chosen to share and remember that I am a legacy of love. To demean and destroy myself is to disrespect that legacy.

I was betrayed this week by someone who I thought was one of those that loved me. I was fuming. I was sad. I was enraged. I was bewildered. But that was yesterday. Today I can choose to focus on those that do love me and who I so love. And really all we have is this day. But this is not only a day of celebration or even a year of celebration. It is a lifetime and beyond. When you mark the people you love with such light that when you are gone they can't help but celebrate, that is a life truly lived. That is a successful contribution to this word. When your love reaches out beyond the grave to your daughter in despair, you've lived a life of which you should be proud. 'That's How Strong My Love Is' by Otis Redding always reminds me of my father. Every line I can imagine my father singing to me wherever he is now and if I feel any doubt for that love I listen to the song. He sings "I'll be the weeping willow drowning in my tears and you can go swimming when you're here and I'll be the rainbow after the tears are gone, wrap you in my colours and keep you warm.Celebrations are in order. For my father's life. For all of you. For today. Happy Birthday Dad! March Forth. 

Dad and Claudia

Dad holding me 1984

Our last Christmas - December 25th 2008


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