Our only child Eleanor died on 21st April this year
M: I had thought of the day as an anniversary, two months since you died, but had forgotten that it it was Father’s Day, only to be reminded by your mum, who had bought gifts for me. Am I still a father, I wondered, connecting mentally with Michael, Kirsty, Eileen and Thea, who probably have thoughts today of their dad who died last year. Still, that’s the right way round at least, the young grieving for the old, not like us.
I do have memories of Father’s days in the past; times when you cooked something splendid, gave me vulgar cards; times you were too ill to do anything. Above all however I remember that for so many Father’s Days, behind all fun and love, there was my fear for your life, that your body would give out, or that on one of your binges some bastard would kill you. Neither of these were idle fears, as you were repeatedly ill, and seriously assaulted more than once. Living with fear made you the more precious, but also at times the object of my anger: how dare you not look after yourself for my sake!
As you may detect, some of this stuff is still slopping around my soul, getting in the road of more important feelings. In fact, today, the Lord’s Day, Father’s Day, my main feeling is doubt. How have I managed to build up this comforting illusion that you are raised from death and communicating with me? Yes, I have always left open the possibility that I was inventing it all. Indeed, I knew our conversation flowed from my mind, but I trusted that my mind was prompted by reality, the reality of your life in God. Indeed, if God is real, then life beyond death must also be real, for God must have some way of making up for the travesty of life on earth given to so many human beings – and animals, as you would want me to add. So this is not a doubt concerning resurrection, but about God, himself/herself, immortal and invisible, the only wise God.
Monsters stalk our earth. Trump, but far worse than him the monstrous mob, many of them Christian, who love him and approve his policies. Behind him, and other large lizards, like Johnson, Putin, Xi, Orban, Erdogan are the possessors of capital determined to suck all life from the world, as long as it lasts till they snuff it. Unlike some classic monsters of the past they have no care for their own children and grandchildren. The sum of suffering created just in our time by these terrorists is so huge that the best theologies may after all be those that depict this world as vale of tears in which the only salvation is escape. But perhaps it would be more honest to remember the playwright John Osborne, one of whose characters, offered the option of believing in God, says he’s tried it but it didn’t do what it said in the advert. It was like buying a hoover and finding that not only did it not beat or sweep or clean but actually blew the dust back out all over the bloody house…
You’d think that almost any kind of half-decent God, far less the only wise One, would be able to make a better fist of the universe than this one, whose earth creatures may fairly soon end ip fried to a crisp. Of course I’ve been living with these doubts all my adult life; so I hope that I’m not being overwhelmed by them now when something bad has happened to me. I don’t think so, it’s just that on this Father’s Day it seems to me probable that you are dead and gone, finished, caput; a mortal part of my mortal life; a gift of uncountable richness, but now a memory only, leaving me with gratitude that you existed and terrible anger that you don’t still. Maybe it would be more honest of me to renounce…..
E: You’ll never hear me if you make so much noise.