Today’s The Day My Dad Died

And my uncle. And my cousin. Each a year apart, from completely unrelated things. Maybe the universe is just trying to be efficient and let me have one really shitty day instead of a few spaced further apart. I am doing the only thing I can which is writing about it. Art for me has always been a way to allow emotions to leave my body. I know if I sit down and write, or paint or play a song, or just run for long enough, the thing will leave me and I will be able to feel something new, and maybe the new thing will feel better than the last.

I have this dream where my father meets my daughter and my son, and she’s obviously shy and she hides behind me. He’s in a wheelchair and I think that’s strange for kids. He’s in a hospital, some kind of asylum or something. After we finish hugging, he looks at me and says, “Can I come home now?” I don’t know what it means but I do know there’s a kind of weight on me because my kids will never meet him and so in some way, I have to try and translate some part of him from the past, into the moments I have with them. I have to tell the stories he couldn’t, try and do the jokes and the bits he did.

It’s just a day for being sad. The strange thing is, I forget. I forget for a few days around the anniversary and I think to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with me?” And I try and work out why I’m feeling anxious and depressed and like I’m swimming up river and then I remember, someone says something or I see something and then I remember, oh yeah, today’s the day I got the phone call from my mother, “Your father didn’t wake up, I need to the number for the priest, the one who married you, do you have it?”

We were married in the backyard of my parent’s house two weeks before he died, so that he could be there. Which makes it sound like we knew he was going to die, we didn’t, he’d had multiple sclerosis since I was born and so I grew up watching him go from cane, to walking sticks, to a wheelchair, to a bed, so he was always dying in front of me but you forget about the things in front of you when they’re always in front of you. I am not religious, just spiritual. As I wrote somewhere, a wave does not stop being a wave when it crashes against the shore. The wind does not stop being the wind.

So I like to thing he’s here in some small way, in a joke, a smile, a photo. I miss him. And my uncle. And my cousin. And I’m just going to spend today missing him, and resting my head on his feet when we watched tv, and his dumb jokes and his presence and the fact that sometimes he’d just come into a room I was reading in and he’d just sit there in the same room as me, doing nothing, making me feel uncomfortable and I didn’t understand why he’d do it, but I understand now dad. I understand.

I miss you. We all miss all of you.

Where do you fit?

Where do you fit?

Not here says the forest and the valley.

Not here says the page and the publisher.

Not here says the math and the machine.

Not here says the coach and the field.

Where do you fit?

Not here says the river and the rain.

Not here says the bench and the park.

Not here says the street and the traffic lights.

Not here says the coffee shop and the drive-through.

Where do you fit?

Here, says the silence.

Here, when you close your eyes, in quiet rooms.

This is the only place you fit.

When you are barely even here.

Talking To My Three Year Old Daughter In An Airport

why do we have to use plastic knives and forks?

Because a long time ago,
some bad men used metal knives
to hurt some people on a plane.

could you see the blood? could you see bones?
sometimes if you cut someone
so bad you can see their skeleton

Yes there was blood
and now we are not allowed metal knives inside airports.

did they go to jail

Who?

the people who cut the other people

Yes.

what were their names

I don’t remember.

were their names one, two, three,
four, five, six, seven, eight,
nine, ten, eleven, twelve?

Yes, those were their names.

– Iain S. Thomas

To Live With Meaning

Dear You,

If there’s one question I’ve learned to ask myself more than any other, it’s this:

Is the thing I’m doing moving me closer or further away from the person I want to be?

I want to be less stressed out, happier, have more energy and have more meaningful experiences with the people I love.

I find if I remember to ask that question, I can slowly, gently move myself closer to that and I believe that if life is anything, it is that: the slow journey from who we were born as to who we imagine we could be, accepting each step as it comes and forgiving ourselves when we falter, so that we can carry on.

We are meant to move slowly but we are meant to move.

I find my primary method of movement in that journey is being present with the people I love, and in the experiences I seek out. And I find the more distracted I am, the more I am pulled away from where I am by plans and memories and the bright lights and colours of everyday life, the more miserable I am.

If I am with my children, when my phone bings and bingles with red and exciting notifications, I put my phone on do-not-disturb and I engage with them fully in whatever we’re doing.

If we’re having a tea party, we’re only having a tea party, I’m not trying to solve a problem or write a new poem. If we’re on a swing, we are only on the swing, I am fully invested, spiritually, emotionally and mentally in what we’re doing, I am engaged with them and interested in every story, ever nuance of who my children are.

My children have never been upset or brats or challenged me when I’ve treated them not as obstacles between me and what I want to achieve, but as the people I want to be with, experiencing things I want to experience.

I’m not saying that phones are bad, I run my life from my phone, and I understand that this isn’t always possible; that parenting is hard and that often as parents, we need to accomplish things -while- juggling our children. My point is that we should approach our life with intention, and when it is time to spend time with the people we love, that is all we should be doing.

When we are with someone, let’s be with them.

I believe we should treat everyone and all our experiences in this way, meaningful and with intention.

Thank you for your time.

My best,

Iain S. Thomas.

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Strength Comes From Love

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In Montblanc Lucky Orange. I’m still amazed that there are parents who don’t understand this. My kid is braver than yours because I don’t give her a hard time or make her feel bad for how she feels, I let her choose what she wants to do and then I support her. If she feels afraid, we talk about being afraid. If she gets hurt, we talk about getting hurt. At no point do I ever tell her what she is or isn’t supposed to feel. She feels what she feels and she knows that’s fine with me, and she’s a thousand times stronger and braver for it.