His death, and all of the events since, seems equally a lifetime and a millisecond ago. In 25 years I have changed entirely, and not at all; I am a middle-aged mother and the girl in her dad's cardigan. A wife and the teenager playing All Mod Cons on repeat. I'm writing this from the kitchen of the home I have built with my husband, and I can still remember clearly being stood in my mother's kitchen wondering why our next door neighbour was there, why my brothers were upstairs and why my dad was no longer in the living room attached to a morphine drip. I'd only gone out with a friend for a few hours...time enough for him to slip away and for the ambulance to come.
This is not to say that my life revolves around one event but it's fair to say it's shaped me. Death can blow bloody great holes in lives and families and I am grateful to have landed in one piece. I mourn his passing but am happy he was in my life at all, thankful that he was my dad.
And what is a comfort is knowing that he lived and that he loved us all. He embraced my mum in front of me and my brothers, played silly games and danced with us, fell down drunk on the path once (but only once), and rode his bike to and from work. He did crosswords to help improve his spelling, had a nice line in vests that had a contrasting trim (in the seventies and eighties it was the law to wear these), taught us Tarzan jokes and fixed our bikes. He was about us, and not his illness until it could no longer be hidden.
I called my mum, and as we remarked on how long it had been she said "it makes you realise what a drop in the ocean we are." It seemed fitting, and poetic - because as with the lives of all the wonderful people that we have lost, his is still sending out ripples today.
Soundtrack: Who Knows Where the Time Goes - Fairport Convention