My phone doesn’t ring very often but yesterday it rang, and up came the name and then the voice of my daughter Gabriel. She’s the daughter from whom I was estranged for too many years before reconciliation. I wrote about this in my cathartic anthology, Day Return to Cocoa Yard. She documented this in her degree project, via cathartic photography. Which was the reason for the call I’d been expecting…
“Hello,” I said, “well…?”
“A first,” she said, and giggled.
I’m not sure what I said back, in fact I don’t recall saying any words at all. It was just a noise, a joyful, resounding growl, I guess a bit like that made by a footballer scoring a wondergoal.
It was true, she’d made it – Bachelor of Arts with Honours Photography, First Class.
She’s the third of my four children to get a degree, and the first to get a first. I’d often teased that the dumbest of the lot would probably get the best result. She’d laughed along with magnanimity, because our relationship was rebuilt on sturdy foundations. Things were back to how they were so many years before.
Except it’s different now; she’s a young woman with children of her own, and a talent of her own. And as you can see from the self-portrait above she’s beautiful too, a beauty inherited from her mother not me.
“Now the show really begins,” I said, turning into serious pragmatic dad, “You need help with your website, it’s time to get some bookings and reward for your talent.”
“I know,” she said, “it’s scary.”
“You’ve no reason to be scared,” I said.
She hasn’t. She has everything she needs and I’m so very proud of her.
But when I put down the phone I sat by the canal in the sun, and thought. I thought a lot. And couldn’t help reflecting that if I’d died in 2019 I would’ve missed this moment. I would’ve missed one of the greatest, proudest moments a father could live to rejoice.
So to anyone like me who lives with depression, my message is clear – don’t fail your heart because there is ALWAYS something glorious worth living for.