Everything Is Everything
Posted on February 14, 2012
“Coffee cups on the counter, jackets on the chair
Papers on the doorstep, you’re not there
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
But you’re missing”
- Bruce Springsteen
Today marks the 4th anniversary of my Dad’s death, for it was on Thursday the 14th of February 2008 that I woke up to find my Dad dead outside my door. I was 13, and he was 41. Things had been bad in my family for a long time at this point, and whilst I wish I could say that I was “ready” for something so profoundly difficult to come my way, my Dad’s death totally destroyed my world. 4 years on and I am no longer the young 13 year old who desperately tried to resuscitate my Dad, whilst not actually knowing what “resuscitate” meant, rather I am 17 – soon to be 18, with the whole world at my fingertips, and a life to live. My transition from childhood to adulthood was forced upon me and damaged me in more ways than I can describe, but finally I have reached a point where I can acknowledge my own strength to at least match my own pain. With the notion of “pain” in my mind I confront the fact that as hard as I try to be a “man” about things, facing the 4th anniversary of losing my Dad today has filled me with a deep unhappiness, but even more so a longing for the childhood which I so miss, and the man who was my Dad. Alas, I cannot change the past, and as much as I have tried, I cannot change what happened to my Dad either. He died 4 years ago, and that milestone will only live to be superseded year on year, until as a 90 year old man I will not have seen my Father for 77 years. This reality is one which I need to confront with the same strength and honesty as the truth in my Dad’s death also. You can’t run from the past, and you certainly cannot hide from the future.
When I wake up later I will look in the mirror and see staring back at me a 17 year old with a few gray hairs, bags under his eyes, and a deep longing for something better. My eyes will be unusually sunken, and I will see in them the need to acknowledge my family’s reality, and the fact that another year has passed since I said goodbye to Dad. However, unlike the boy I woke up as 4 years ago, the man I will wake up as today will have many of the assets vital for surviving what will be a tough day.
Recently I found a voice – a voice which has saved me nearly as many times as the man I write about. I’m currently living a life which is almost perfectly represented and reflected by the words and music of that man, Bruce Springsteen. In fact, he once said that “In the early years, I found a voice that was my voice and also partly my father’s voice.” That is something which I can relate to more than anything else right now, and which resonates with me strongly. Furthermore, I have learned in Springsteen’s music that many of the troubles which I am going through he experienced himself, but he made it. He survived. And so can I. Never underestimate the power of music. I owe my life to it, as do a number of people I know. The Boss has provided me with the music and strength vital to surviving this world, and to also build the courage needed to continue in the face of adversity. As the man himself put it - “The best music, you can seek some shelter in it momentarily, but it’s essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.”
Such strength will be needed for me and my family today more than most days, as the pain of losing my Dad will be felt more acutely than it normally is. I could write a million words in this post and would still fail to fully describe how it is that I feel. Losing my Dad is something which I have never, and will never, truly be able to “accept”. Wounds like that don’t heal, but they can be managed and life can still be enjoyed. I actually think back to the 3rd anniversary last year, and the most pain I felt was when I realised that not once throughout the whole day had I actually managed to cry for my Dad… Which, ironically, in itself prompted the tears which I felt I should be shedding.
I miss my Dad more than I will ever be able to describe. Following his death there were moments when I would actually see him, even though I knew he was not there. Whilst that was on many levels distressing, I never resisted those moments, as I could – just for a second – trick myself into feeling his physical presence once more. Those days are long gone, as I am further along in the grieving process. However there is not one moment which I live where the pain of not only losing him, but also the damage of my family, is not present within me. This is what scares me about today – all the emotions which I “hide” so well, will be more fervent and acute than they usually are throughout the year, and I don’t know how I will manage.
Alas, today is not about me – it is about my Dad. I will be there for my Mum, and my Sister, and will probably save my tears for a quiet moment when I know that what is left of my family is okay for the day. School will be bitterly hard, as I will walk amongst people who either don’t know about what this date means to me, or who are unable to say anything about it. That said, I do have present in my life now great friends who I think I can count on. Most importantly I have Bruce and the E Street Band, and “The Rising”, an album which I run to in times of great difficulty. “You’re Missing” will be played in tribute to my Dad by me, and I hope to at least live a moment where I feel worthy of crying – displaying an unusual bout of emotional struggle, but also honesty.
My favourite rendition of “You’re Missing” is the one below. I always feel such intense emotion when Bruce plays in any form, as do fellow fans, but there is something so overwhelmingly truthful about the simplicity, but also depth, of Bruce and his piano which is unrivalled for me. If any song will make me cry today, it will be this one.
“You’re missing when I shut out the lights
You’re missing when I close my eyes
You’re missing when I see the sun rise
My Dad is missing.
And so it is that I say goodnight. Today will be tough, but life’s like that. We just have to embrace what comes our way, and hope for better things one day. I hope to live in the same way as “The Rising” does, confronting all the real truths behind losing someone we love, with all the pain associated with that, but also making the transition from that pain to an emotional acceptance, and a knowing that one day we will all be together once more.
Finally, I just want to express my love for the man who has, although inadvertently, made me who I am today. My Dad is dead, but I still love him, and I know that I can do this. You can too – there is nothing greater than love, and love can conquer all.