It took me two hours to get to the top of Hester Point and all I did when I got there was cry and bleed. I felt like I was all alone in the world, my only peers being empty beer bottles some of which were broken which I had crushed with my bare hands. My life had begun to start crashing around me and I had let it. Earlier that day my sister, Evelyn had called to give me the news that our father had passed away. I hadn't taken it well. I put on an Oscar winning performance for Evelyn and told her I was OK and that we would be fine but as soon as I got off the phone I fell apart. I didn't break down in tears, I was just overcome with anger, anger not just at losing him too soon but also at the man himself, how dare he abandon us? Yes, I know it's ridiculous and I knew it then too, but I was in denial. I had no right to be angry at him yet there that anger was, misplaced it may have been, but anger nonetheless. I had taken my rucksack and filled it with beer bottles from my fridge. Two hours later I was fifteen miles away, half-way up a mountain and in a terrible state. Sober me thought that being close to the stars would make me closer to him but drunk me begged to differ. My dad didn't believe in the afterlife, he always said that "when we are gone we are gone, simple as that". I myself believed in the afterlife, I always had but knowing that dad didn't, left me in turmoil. I wanted proof in the afterlife. I'm not saying I expected the clouds to part and my dad would be up there with life advice like some sort of Nineties kids movie but I just wanted to know who was right. I wanted to prove him wrong so bad. I wanted the chance to see him again and selfishly I wanted to say " I told you so". At that moment I knew only too well that I had no chance of seeing my dad again on this plain and only in death would I see him (unless of course my dad was right and there is no life after death). At that time I decided that it was worth taking the risk and told myself that I had a meager existence anyway. If I had been thinking of Evelyn I would have come to no such conclusion, but I was being selfish. What happened next I don't know for sure but I must have passed out. Was it from the beer or the loss of blood? That could be anyone’s guess but when I woke up it was daylight, and I was no longer outside, I was in a small bedroom with pink wallpaper emblazoned with stars. My hand had been bandaged up and there was an angry looking woman in the doorway, Evelyn.
"How did you find me?" I asked her in a defensive tone. Her eyed widened, I sensed danger. "Lucky for you I decided that I needed to see you and turned up just as you were leaving and followed you".
I thought about that for a second and was ashamed at myself for not realising I had been tailed, I was also ashamed of what my actions had been leading to and what may have happened had I not passed out or if Evelyn hadn't found me. Mostly though I was ashamed that I still wanted to end it all and I didn't want to have to discuss anything with Evelyn, not in that moment. Discuss it we did though and by that I mean that Evelyn screamed at me, swore at me and told me how selfish I had been and that she needed me in her life now more than ever and I cried, it was an authentic cry, a sober cry. I was crying not just for my dad but also for my sister, not for what I was going through but what she was. I hated myself, I still wanted it all to be over but I knew I had to be better than that, I wanted to tell her all of my thoughts at that moment but when I opened my mouth only two words escaped. "I'm Sorry".
Evelyn opened her mouth to give me hell and paused, her scowled faded and she closed her mouth again. She smiled briefly but it wasn’t a smile of happiness it was a smile of relief. There was a long silence but it wasn’t uncomfortable, it was full of relief and respect. We had lost our father but we had both learnt something about what family really is. Evelyn began to laugh. I smiled in confusion but then suddenly I was laughing too. We didn’t know why, maybe it was relief again.
“You should stay here for a few days”, Evelyn suddenly offered. “Cassie is at her dad’s for the week so this room is yours for now, if you want it”.
“I’m sorry your marriage didn’t work out” I interjected.
“I’m not” Evelyn sternly replied.
“I’ll stay the night, not sure about tomorrow”.
“Can’t say fairer than that”.
Again there was silence but it didn’t last long and we had a day of talking and sharing stories and there were tears too from both of us. Things were going to get harder and we knew it, we still had the funeral to come and I for one didn’t know if I had the strength but I kept that to myself. I could put on my best happy face but I wasn’t happy, not by a long shot. I suspected the same was true of Evelyn. The day soon passed and when it was time to go to bed Evelyn turned to me and said “Please still be here tomorrow”. She turned and left the room before I could answer. I was already gone when she awoke the next morning.
Losing Dad was one thing but I didn’t want to lose Liam too, he was my brother and I needed him now but I knew he needed me more. Having said that, I knew he wouldn’t be around in the morning even though I had asked him to stay.
I wanted to go after him but I didn’t know where to look, I wasn’t as worried about him as I had been. I didn’t know what his mental state was but I felt like we had made a breakthrough. I thought that maybe he just needed some fresh air, wherever he was I was sure he was OK. I don’t know how I knew that, I just did.
I decided that clearing my own head would be a good idea too, so I went for a drive and before I even realised where I had gone I found myself outside Dad’s house. Liam’s car was already there. I should have been surprised, yet I discovered that I wasn’t. The front door was unlocked and as I entered I was greeted by the sound of nostalgia, The Beatles. I found Liam sat on the floor in the living room by Dad’s record player surrounded by a sea of vinyl records, Dad’s records.
Dad loved The Beatles, he owned all of their records. He had a varied taste musically but nobody ever outdid those good old boys from Liverpool, that’s what Dad always said anyway.
Liam looked up at me and offered a sharp smile. “You Remember this one?”.
“Let it be” I answered with a smile.
“I just needed to hear him today,” Liam said. “When I listen to his music I feel like I’m listening to him too, I don’t know if that makes sense”.
“It makes perfect sense,” I told him. I knelt down so that we were at eye level and I smiled some more. We sat there for a while browsing records and sharing memories of Dad and the songs he loved the most, half the day had passed before we even realised. There was sadness there but also a happiness blended with relief.
“Take the record player,” I said to Liam after a while. “He would want you to have it”.
Liam looked at me, seemingly in a state of shock. “What about you?” He asked.
I took a handful of LPs and some 45s too, Mostly The Beatles but some Abba and some Burt Bacharach too. “I’ll take these,” I told him. “I’ll need to come see you from time to time, to play them of course”. I smiled. Liam smiled too. He nodded.
Time passed by so quickly after that, the funeral came and went, and we struggled our way through it, but we struggled together. We often see each other these days.
A year has passed since the day our father passed, and we have spent the day listening to his records in the day and now that it has gone dark we are out in the garden looking up at the stars. Liam told me the story of how he was looking up at the stars that night I found him bleeding and unconscious, he told me how he wanted a way to speak to dad and he had felt so disturbed by it all, not knowing if his own opinion of afterlife could be true knowing that it was in conflict with Dad’s own opinions. It haunted him and he felt worse for it.
These days things are different. Liam talks to Dad everyday, he feels it in the music and in the spirit of his own existence and that’s how we both know that Dad still exists somewhere whether Dad believed that or not. We know it to be true, he exists in the music and he exists in the stars and better than all that, he exists in us.