How I Met Your Father: Reflections on 20 years without my Dad

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“I hear babies crying, I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world” – Louis Armstrong

Kids, I really hate the date 23 November. It’s the date in 2015 when we were told your great-grandfather was dying and it’s the date in 1996 when we lost your grandfather, my Dad, to a violent and senseless crime.

That this date is exactly a week after my birthday on 16 November, is something I have been haunted by for decades. It seems like a lifetime ago when one week my family and friends were gathered around one table celebrating my birth and the next, those same people were crying around a body.

It’s why I make a huge fuss about my birthday each year – I need to be surrounded by love and happiness because the next week, I won’t be.

On the 23rd,   I withdraw from everything and everyone and I don’t usually talk about my Dad because even after all this time, the loss of him is equally painful and liberating. I know you won’t understand that, because you’ve never met him but Dad and I had a complex relationship. We still do.

It sounds clichéd, having Daddy issues, but my father was a force like no other. Fun-loving, daring, loving, passionate, creative and my all-time hero; Faizel Williams also had a very dark, frightening side I was often exposed to. I loved both parts of him in equal measures but I would be lying if I said it didn’t have an effect on how I engage with people, especially men, as an adult.

Eleven is a really young age to have to deal with grief – hell, your aunt Sam was eight – and a loss like that leaves an undeniable mark on your psyche, your soul and your heart.

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The Williams Four in 1988

Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to not having my Dad around for the big things – matric dances, first crushes, first boyfriends, first job, my graduations, my driver’s licence test, my first international trip, my wedding and your births.

It’s the small things, though, that still trip me up – I want to be able to call him when I am sad or mad or hungry; get a big bear hug when I need it or dance in the middle of a busy road because our favourite song is playing.

I ache for a missing parent but I count my lucky stars for the one who is still around. Your Nan Soraya, though, Kids, is unbelievably incredible. She’s been there for all of the big moments and every little one in between and she did it all on her own. Sam and I are so incredibly lucky to have such a Supermom!

On 23 November, 2016, Your Nan, Aunt Sam and I remembered your grandfather on his 20th death anniversary with one of his favourite songs:

We love you, Daddy, always xx

 

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