Dear darling diary

I’ve had an ok day. Mrs Johnson really liked my poem about my grandma, especially the bit about her smelling of mint and lavender. She said I used good descriptive words. Also my BFF (best friend forever) Stacey gave me one of her One Direction pens. Harry is so buff!

When my mum picked me up from school she said I am going to go to the seaside on Saturday with Dad and his girlfriend Lizzie. I’m not really looking forward to it. Lizzie is nice and always buys me stuff like sweets or stickers, but she’s not Mum. Mum is a bit wacky, but she’s my mum and I like it when we have cuddle time on the sofa on a Saturday night. We sometimes argue but not for long.

Dad and Lizzie hold hands and kiss. I don’t like it. It makes me feel funny and a bit like I am going to be sick. He doesn’t do big long kisses like teenagers do, just small ones on the lips. But I still don’t like it.

Last time I saw Lizzie we went ten pin bowling with her and her little boy, Ben. He had to use one of those ramp things because he’s only three and had the rails up. I managed to get two strikes.

Anyway it was fun, but not as fun as it would have been if Mum had been there. In the car home Lizzie said she had really enjoyed her day with her “three favourite people”. That made me feel upset. She is trying to make a new family with me and Dad and Ben, but that means without Mum.

Mum asked me if I was looking forward to going to the seaside. When I said “yeah, I suppose so” she asked me what was wrong so I told her what Lizzie said after we went bowling. Mum said Lizzie was only trying to be nice and show that she wanted to be my friend. I said it felt like she wanted Mum to go away, then I got really upset and cried.

I just want to have Mum and Dad and me together, living together. Why can’t we all be together and have cuddles on the sofa all together? Mum and Dad used to do that before they shouted a lot and had lots of arguments. It’s not fair that they split up.

Stacy’s Mum and Dad are together. Why can’t mine be? Mum said that sometimes things go wrong and people need to split up because it’s for the best. It’s not for the best for me. I have to sleep in Dad’s flat, in a big bed while he sleeps on the sofa. The bed is too big and cold and smells yucky.

If Dad came back I could stay in my own room and no one would have a yucky bed.

The above is complete fiction and any similarity to a nine-year-old girl’s diary is purely coincidental.

Dear Dad…

When I have a problem, dilemma or something I need to talk through I still think about calling you to ask what you think. For a few seconds I forget you are gone. It sounds insane when you were taken from me, and all those who loved you, 13 years and four months ago.

You will creep into my thoughts, as you have just now, when I am alone and the room is quiet. I still miss you, but sometimes think it was a good thing you were saved from the disappointment I would have brought you. The glittering career you wished for me, the long happy marriage and fulfilling life have not really happened. I know you made sacrifices, worked long hours and tried to put me on the right track. But I had to make some choices on my own and they weren’t always the right ones. Even when you were here I didn’t always listen to you, so I can’t even blame your passing for this – it’s mostly my fault.

But, Dad, I’ve done ok. I have two gorgeous children – you would have really loved them and probably spoilt them with sweets and treats. I remember when I was seven or eight and you used to take me with you to the off-licence for some wine and buy me chocolate but say not to tell mum. Most of their friends have granddads, but they only have a granddad-shaped hole in their lives.

I still write, but not the angst-ridden poems I used to share with you when I was a teenager. I know these made you laugh when they were meant to be an out-pouring of emotion. I am not sure you would approve of what I write now. I would have probably kept it a secret, like the tattoo I got at 22 – did you ever wonder why I never had short sleeves when I visited?

There are lots of things I never apologised about – probably because I am stubborn, like you, and find it hard to admit I am wrong. Sorry I threw stones at your car when I was three. Sorry I got into trouble at school for scribbling all over my reading book. Sorry I stayed out late with my boyfriend and dressed ‘inappropriately’ when I was 16. Sorry we had endless rows and didn’t speak to each other for days. Sorry I called you a ‘stupid old man.’ Sorry I didn’t get to the hospital in time to say goodbye properly. Sorry I stopped saying ‘I love you’.

But whatever I did, however hard I made things, you were always there – ready to cuddle me when I cried, ready to listen to whatever trivial and garbled problems I had, driving me here and there.

I smile when I think of you dancing around the kitchen with me and singing silly songs and you dashing to the garden to rescue me when I got stuck up trees. You were always there for me and never complained.

Yet I was a difficult daughter and not the best behaved. It’s best you don’t know about some of the naughty things I have got up to over the years – I am not sure you could endure the shock.

But you are always with me, wherever I am. I see you in my children’s eyes, my son’s smile.

I hope my memories never fade.

Love you, Dad. x