Today marks six years since my dad died, God I miss him so much. We were like two sides of the same coin, losing him was like losing a part of myself. Although the void he left is stark and merciless, the grief unrelenting, I still consider the pain of his loss a reminder that I am one of the lucky ones. Not everyone gets to have a dad like him, to be as close as we were. I’m grateful that I had the chance to sing quietly to him in his final moments, to hold his hand as he left this life so he knew that he wasn’t alone. He died surrounded by a family who bathed him in words of love. It breaks my heart that thousands are perishing in hospital with no loved ones present; that families are grieving without the chance to say goodbye, hold a proper funeral and expereince the necessary rights of passage that allow closure.

I wrote this while I was sitting next to his bed, a few days before he died. I still turn to it when I need words of comfort. We’re all going through something or other right now, but whatever it is, I hope this might provide you with some solace too. They are his words; the words spoken so often to encourage, comfort and reassure.

I love you Dad.

1) Laugh. There’s humour to be found everywhere, even in your darkest days there’s something to have a joke about. Laugh long and loud and make other people laugh. It’s good for you.

2) Be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you they’re either stupid , blind, or they’ve got bad taste. Accept who you are, you’ve got no one else to be. Don’t try to change yourself, there’s no point. Don’t apologise. Don’t make excuses. Be yourself and if anyone else doesn’t like it they can fuck off.

3) Be flamboyant, it’s who you are and always have been. Be eccentric and unique. Don’t try to adapt yourself to someone else’s view of normal. That belongs to them, not you. Like yourself as you are.

4) Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Everyone’s a critic, but ultimately what they say only matters if you let it. Don’t believe your own press. People can just as easily sing your praises as they can tear you down. Don’t waste your time on things you can’t change. Let it slide off you like water off a duck’s back.

5) Get angry, it’s ok to lose your temper now and then. If anger stays in, it turns to poison and makes you bitter and sad. Get angry, say your piece, then let it go.

6) What ever you do, always give it a good go. Don’t be afraid of failure and disappointment. If you fall flat on your face then get straight back up. You’ll always regret not trying. Disappointment is temporary, regret is forever.

7) Be generous and kind because you can’t take it with  you. When you’ve got something to give, give it without hesitation.

8) Appreciate beauty, take pictures and make memories. Capture it, you never know when it’ll be gone.

9) Don’t take yourself too seriously. People who take themselves too seriously are boring.

10) Never, ever, ever, ever give up. Keep on punching no matter what your up against. You’re only defeated if you give up, so don’t give up.

11) Love with all your heart. In the end, love is the only thing that matters.

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