Rumours: where two griefs collide

My Dad died in June. I could pussyfoot around the subject, introduce it delicately, but I am neither a pussyfooter nor especially delicate. My Dad died in June, unexpectedly, aged just 68, and it hurts like you wouldn’t believe.

Or maybe you would, but the ferocity of the grief certainly surprised me. I mean, obviously if I thought about it, which I didn’t much before he died, I expected losing a parent would hurt. But somewhat naively, I imagined it would be a ramped up version of the other griefs I’ve felt.  Like when my Nan died perhaps, only 10 times worse.

I know better now. Losing a parent is nothing like losing a grandparent. That’s like comparing frogs with tambourines. It feels like I’ve lost my core, my sense of who I am and why I’m here. It’s so much more than the absence of the person, so much more than simply missing him dreadfully.

I feel anchorless, adrift, like a chair with three legs – sort of functional if I carry myself carefully, but lean a certain way and I’m flat on my backside. Like getting out of the car, opening the boot to unload the Sainsbury’s shopping and seeing my neighbour wearing a fleece a bit like one Dad wore, and finding myself in floods of silent tears. It catches you off guard, throws you off balance.

Dad was a musician. Which means, as well as leaving my brother and I more guitars and harmonicas than we’ll ever know what to do with, he also left an epic CD collection. So last night, I chose three albums that remind me of my childhood from the box I’ve taken from Dad’s house: a Bonnie Raitt album, a Mary Chapin Carpenter album, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

Dad and I would listen to Bonnie and Mary on our long trips down to Plymouth every year.  I’d sit in the front seat of his Ford Capri, bare thighs stuck to the pleather, bare feet up on the dashboard, singing my little heart out.

Fleetwood Mac was a more grown-up affair – I was a teenager when he lent me his copy of Rumours, and it was the same copy that I played last night.

I was sitting doing a bit of work. The album was background music. The familiar melodies were comforting, Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar a particular joy on Never Going Back Again. It was a pleasantly nostalgic experience – until track 5.

“Loving you isn’t the right thing to do…”

My ears prick up and I start actually listening to the words.

“How can I ever change things that I feel?”

Exactly, Lindsey, exactly – how can I, huh? How can I possibly do that?

“If I could, baby I’d give you my world
How can I, when you won’t take it from me?”

Yes! That’s the very heart of the problem, the nub, the centre of it all. I am indeed offering him my world, for what it’s worth, and the stupid feckless fecking Pirate won’t fecking well take it, the ungrateful fecker.

And this is where two griefs collided. One man tragically absent, one comically present. So I started the album from scratch and properly listened, and of course Rumours is about more than the melodies, the harmonies, the drumming and the guitars.

It’s one of the best break-up albums ever written. Every song is about a complicated, doomed love affair. Every song could have been written for me. And then I remembered why Dad had lent it to me in the first place. I’d broken up with a boyfriend and he thought it might help.

So I sat listening to it on a loop, nodding sagely along to the lyrics like the heartsick puppy I am (how do the Mac know just how I’m feeling? HOW?! Surely I am the first person ever to feel the agony of doomed love?!). The soul-wrenching sobs began properly during Songbird:

“And I wish you all the love in the world
But most of all, I wish it from myself…”

I posted this as a Facebook status update in June, the day before I last saw my Dad. He liked it. I logged into my account and had a look. Yes. He still likes it, even though he’s gone. This set me off on a hunt for all of the interactions between me and Dad on Facebook.

Yes. Think twice before moaning about a friend or relative’s workaday, ploddy status updates. Every word is nectar when they’re gone, and Facebook becomes a kind of digital amber, perfectly preserving mundane memories forever. Which reminded me that I hadn’t deleted his last answerphone message from my phone. Yes, it’s still there. He sounds old, and tired. Oh Daddy… When did that happen? Why the fuck did you have to go now?

So I sat and cried my heart out last night, for my Dad and for myself. It was tremendously cathartic – and inspirational. A certain stalkerish air came over me during Silver Springs:

“Time casts a spell on you, but you won’t forget me
I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me
I’ll follow you down til’ the sound of my voice will haunt you
You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you”

I could go all Annie Wilkes on The Pirate’s ass! Yes!

And today? Today I’ve lost the urge to break his ankles and am trying very hard not to email The Pirate a link to Go Your Own Way:

“If I could, baby I’d give you my world
Open up, everything’s waiting for you.”

Trouble is, he knows my world comes complete with a nearly 3-year old, a neurotic terrier, 2 greedy guinea pigs and an ex-husband whose capacity for utterly twattish behaviour is apparently limitless – just when you think setting a date to marry his next wife before divorcing this one is as twatty as it gets, he tells you he’s going to instigate bankruptcy proceedings, leaving the Official Receiver free to claim the half of the house he has given me.

It is entirely possibly, then, and perhaps even likely, that offering The Pirate my world is less of a romantic gesture than Fleetwood Mac intended. In fact, it could conceivably be seen as some kind of punishment. Oh bollocks.


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