The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Delusion Of Our Lives. Or At Least Mine.
September 17, 2008, 6:49 am
Filed under: Comment

Just incase you thought the previous few days more ‘light hearted’ posts represented a change in my attitude, prepare yourself to be brought down to earth with a very large, potentially depressing bump.

Today would have been my Dad’s birthday.


When I was a kid that seemed so old but now at 38, it seems pretty young – which makes the fact he’s been gone for almost 10 years, even more tragic.

I’ve written many times how much I loved/love him … and how much his loss has/still affects me … but it’s on days like this that the sadness comes out of hiding [and ‘hiding’ is the perfect word] and decides to smash me in the face.

I know I should be at peace now so much time has passed, but I’m not …

Infact I am convinced my mourning hasn’t even really begun.

I appreciate this might make you feel uncomfortable – and that’s not what I want to achieve – I’m just writing it because it’s how I feel.

The thing is, not enough people talk about death.

Whenever the subject is brought up people tend to go one of 4 ways …

1/ Clam up
2/ Try to change the subject
3/ Try to make a joke of the whole thing
4/ Focus almost exclusively on the ‘good times’ they were alive

… and whilst it is never an easy thing to talk about, death shouldn’t be hidden because in the long run it ends up causing you even more pain.

My Father was ill for almost 4 years.

In all those 4 years, it was only until the last few days of his life that I realised the inevitable was going to happen.

Actually I should rephrase that …

In all those 4 years, it was only until the last few days of his life that I decided to accept what I had known all along.

I had been living my life in denial … watching my wonderful Mum not just care for her beloved husband, but try to gently coax her only son into understanding things weren’t going to get better.

It was the ultimate demonstration of love and yet I didn’t realise it till much, much later.

I know I’m not the cleverest person in the World but I’m also not the most stupid – which is why I find it amazing that despite every sign screaming otherwise, I was able to convince myself he was going to get better.

Actually not just better … but back to how he was, as if nothing had ever happened.

Whenever there was a slight positive – however innocuous – I would walk about as if he had proved the entire medical profession wrong, totally ignoring the fact that every time he took one step forward, it was generally followed by 15 steps back.

However my belief wasn’t entirely unfounded …

You see on 3 separate occasions we were told he had 24 hours to live and yet 3 on separate occasions he demonstrated how a will to live can defy any supposed certainty.

However him proving the Doctors wrong didn’t mean he was going to recover, it just meant there was going to be another delay before the inevitable – so on that terrible day where even I had to accept he was getting worse, I finally got to understand that the gentle words my Mum had been saying were designed to protect me rather than upset me.

Everyone knew I had been in denial … Mum, Doctors, friends – even Dad – which is why when we were told we had the choice of stopping his pain or keeping him alive, I was repeatedly asked whether I understood the implications of our choice to let him be ‘free’.

God, I’m 38 and that last sentence has made my eyes fill up.

The thing is, it was the easiest and yet toughest decision of my life.

I didn’t want him to go … selfishly I wanted him to be with me and Mum … but that’s the thing with love, you understand that sometimes you have to put what you want second and even though the decision was ultimately out of my hands … or my Mum’s … or even the Doctors … by doing this, it meant I could start to face the realities of the situation and let the pain and anguish I’d held for 4 years, go.

At this point I’d just like to say to my dear friend Paul, you were absolutely wonderful – the best – and even though you won’t know what you did, you just need to know that alongside my Mum, you made all the difference.

Anyway, a few days later my Dad passed peacefully away with us by his side – and whilst we’d been able to say our goodbyes – I know that because I’d refused to accept or talk about the possibility of death up until the very end, my emotions about the whole situation are still very raw, so without wishing to sound like I’m preaching or being condescending – I encourage you to tell the people you care about that you love them and should you ever get into a conversation about death – don’t fall into the stereotype answers I detailed above, talk about it, it might just make you feel better down the road.

Happy Birthday Dad – wish you were here.

39 Comments so far
Leave a comment

There’s nothing depressing about a life-affirming post filled with love and wisdom. Thanks. My thoughts are with you and your mum.

Comment by John

I’ll take your advice literally today, and Skype.

Great post.

Comment by Ben

you make us especially proud today rob.

happy birthday mr c its a quieter place without you

Comment by andy@cynic

Big hugs from all the Bryant family.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Very brave of you Rob, thanks. My thoughts are with you and your mum.

Comment by Age

I feel all grown up saying this but respect to you Rob, you’re a good man and a better son.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Brilliant post Rob. I’m sure he is very, very proud of you.

Comment by Lofty

How can a post about love and loyalty be depressing? Your father was a good man independently of you, but you made him an even better man and he would be proud of that fact.

My regards to you and your Mother.

Comment by Lee Hill

now it’s my turn to cry all over my keyboard, you sweet bastard.

i think time does give you peace after someone you love has died, but the big days are always hard. some harder than others. and when i think about the fact that you were 28 when he died, 24 when he first got sick – that’s hella young..fuckin’ hell, no wonder it hurts. and thank you for sharing.

take care of yourself this week rob – we’re all thinkin’ of ya.
mrs c – thinkin’ of you too today. make sure you get some good hugs.

Comment by lauren

I knew the cynic had a liberal dose of sunshine in him and this proves it. Best wishes from all your friends at Mountain View.

Comment by Jonathan Rosenberg

A wonderful, heartfelt post Robert. My thoughts are with you and Mrs C today.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Lauren is not alone, my wife is weeping buckets and even I am having to take some deep breaths. Great post by a great guy about a great family.

He’s looking down on you feeling pretty damn proud about what he helped create and so he should, you’re a good man and no amount of swearing will change that. 🙂

Comment by Pete

You are a lovely boy. Big hugs and kisses to you and your Mum.
Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

Have a good weep, Rob ! You wont feel better, but you will feel you still care ! My Dad died when I was 26 and it still feels like yesterday. So 10 years on, you will still be feeling this way, but you will know that still caring is what matters most ! (Does that make sense ? Typing through tears is tough !!)

Comment by fan

Nice and honest post.

Comment by bhaskar

Thank you for sharing this with us, mate. My thoughts are also with you and your mom.

Comment by Mark

I was jealous of the relationship you had with your Dad when he was alive and I am just as jealous of the relationship now he has gone.
Take care mate.

Comment by Paul J

W e love you uncle Robbie. Emmaxxxxx

Comment by Emma Bryant

Thanks for all your kind words and comments … especially gorgeous little Emma who I hope to god hasn’t been allowed to read anything else on this blog or George will be following Marcus’ lead and living in the shed. Again.

Ta …

Comment by Rob

Just a quick question for anyone reading: how many of you have your affairs in order.

Why can’t September 17th be a positive day when in memory of Mr C we all discuss death on this blog? In fact perhaps a bit morbid, but I would assume that everybody here has lost a loved one..why not make it so that we all share the date and on that day collectively remind ourselves to love those who are alive and think about death together instead of paying respects and moving on. Wheeping is good and all, but the Campbell gene (as far as I can tell) is more action orientated. So in honour of Mr C , Mrs C and are my two cents.

I got insurance. Wanna be burried close to my dad. Traditional ceremony. Haven’t cried since he passed, and won’t speak about it to much. Glad that his passing made quite a few of his friends take time to sort out their affairs and that the taboo was lifted, even if just for a moment.

Rob, on a personal note: I don’t know what to say..So I’ll just play some Oasis in the office, I know you like them 🙂

Comment by the 6 star general

He’s be very proud.
My Dad has been really ill this year, he’s fine now, but it’s hard to realise he won’t be around forever.

Comment by northern

I like that idea ‘The-6-Star-General’ and I know my Dad would approve because [1] he loved having conversations about life [2] debating viewpoints and [3] being the centre of attention so it’s a kind of win / win / win / win situation.

I still get blown away that I’ve not met the majority of the people who pop on this blog – but your words, brains and humour make me feel very lucky indeed. Thanks folks. For everything.

Comment by Rob

I’ve thought long and hard about what to say. I’ve called my Mum and Dad and got them out of bed to tell them I love them, which made them grumpy because “we retired now for fuck’s sake – let us have a lie in”. Which made me giggle – and that’s why I love them.

I’ve decided not to use my own words but to make a gift to you and your dad. It’s a special gift, because they are special words.


Love, We Must Part Now

Love, we must part now: do not let it be
Calamitious and bitter. In the past
There has been too much moonlight and self-pity:
Let us have done with it: for now at last
Never has sun more boldly paced the sky,
Never were hearts more eager to be free,
To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I
No longer hold them; we are husks, that see
The grain going forward to a different use.

There is regret. Always, there is regret.
But it is better that our lives unloose,
As two tall ships, wind-mastered, wet with light,
Break from an estuary with their courses set,
And waving part, and waving drop from sight.

Philip Larkin.

Two tall ships. Sounds about right to me.

Love you Campbell.

Comment by Marcus

Kleenex are making a killing off me today!

Thank you Marcus

Comment by Rob

my nan was ill for about thirty years and she fought like a trooper for all that time. though it helped that we had time to prepare, it did end up seeming as if it would never happen.

Yes we need to mourn, but remembering the good times does help.

Comment by Rob M

Great post. Not a lot more to say, really.

Comment by Will

Rob I hugged you at the hospital on the day your dear Dad had his first stroke and if I could I would hug you now.

You made him proud of that I have no doubt.

My Mum was diagnosed last week with an aggressive untreatable cancer, we find out tomorrow “how long”. Your words have been strangely comforting for I fear I will too grieve her in ten years time and actually that feels fine. I also will tell her how much I love her every sodding minute of the day for the next ??.

Needless to say the kleenex is out here, would of been anyway just reading your post but I feel we are kindred spirits today.

Do you remember that poem I sent you:

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.

Much love to you and Mrs C
Nik x

Comment by BTBB

when i read the comments of this post i realise the human race isnt as fucked as the media and governments like to promote. good luck with your mum btbb

Comment by andy@cynic

Hope you did OK yesterday. This is a great post and shows your Dad’s spirit does live on.

Comment by Bazza

I am so sorry to hear your news Nikki, please give your Mum and family a big hug from me and know I’m thinking of you all.

It always happens to the good guys doesn’t it?

And yes I do remember the poem [and the hug] … though I think I understand its words more now than back then. Thank you lovely. Rx

Comment by Rob

10 years is a long time, but even now the thought of his smiling face at your door fills my heart with happy thoughts.
He touched so many lives, and his memory lives on in all of us who knew him.

Love to you and your Mum.
See you next time your on our side of the planet.

Comment by James

I don’t believe it, Jimbo!!!

How are you matey, I can’t believe you found this dark place – that’s just bloody genius.

Thank you so very much for your kind words, you know my Dad never quite understood the music or the long hair but he did think you were a good guy – which shows he wasn’t right all the time.

In all serioussness, your comment means alot and I hope all is well with you and the family. Without doubt we’ll catch up when I’m next there but in the meantime, email me and tell me your news …

I am so chuffed to hear from you matey …

Comment by Rob

He’d be very proud of you. For minutes I thought what wise words to write but I can’t figure out just one. But everything that happened along your way made you the smart and great chap you are today and that’s a thing both your parents can be very proud of.

Nonetheless the thing you say about death is very true. Unfortunately (and reasonable) all horrible fears are related to death. So it’s a thing no-one likes to think about even if we’re forced to. But that’s the irony of life. From the day we’re born we’re dead.

Comment by Seb

I’ve always wanted to write a post like this but then all I did was write really emotional entries about how shit life ended up being for a bit over a year. I feel your pain and keep thinking that this year in June my mum would have been 45. Keep calm and carry on as people kept telling me, even though it’s a tired cliche.

Many hugs!

Comment by Andrea

Only just saw this Rob. Huge hugs to you.

Comment by Angus

toasting your old man.

heres to you roger. thanks for producing a soft bastard for a son. who is clever. sometimes.

Comment by andy@cynic

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