I seem to be writing a lot of death blogs recently. 2016 has been cruel on the death front, celebrities and “normal folk” alike. Maybe it is every year but we only notice what’s current. 

Losing Rhys has taught me a lot of things about death and grief. One thing being that there is most definitely a hierarchy of deaths. I think it will take a long time before Rhys is toppled from the “Worst death” top spot. And I include that because what 16 year old with a competitive streak wouldn’t want to hear that. I think he’d have a sly grin for that. 

But Bryn. 

“Dado” to my kids. (That was Peggy’s choice, I think it’s Irish. Bryn as always, just went along with whatever Peggy decided. I think he’d have been fine with “Bryn”) 

I’m a bit shocked he’s passed to be honest. He was a strong man. Defeated death many times: Told to give up work or die, buried in a coal mine pit accident and in a Coma for 3 days; he was unstoppable. 

But I’m also happy for him. He was told he was going to die years ago so never expected to go before his wife. To have to watch her weaken and die from cancer broke his heart. I don’t think he thought he was anything without her. So I’m glad they’re together again. 

And all this afternoon I’ve been looking for a fitting picture for him. But of course, nothing fits reality. I wanted one that showed him escaped from the confines of his body. He had Parkinson’s and over the last year, as well as being heartbroken, he’s also had to deal with his body giving up on him. He was in hospital for 6 months and came home a couple of weeks ago unable to walk, unable to eat or drink, and sporadically unable to breath. So the idea of him soaring and flying in the sky, feeling strong, young and free again; it has a certain poetry to it. This is the best I came up with; a man looking upwards where his heart is and ready to fly there. 

Bryn was a hard man to get close to. When I first met him I found him very intimidating. I don’t think much changed over the last 21 years. But I realised he wasn’t scary or unloving: just liked to be by himself. I see a lot of similarities between Bryn and my own father. My dad liked to know we were in the house, but didn’t want to actually talk to us (he’s told me that once or twice himself!) Bryn loved having family around, but we were always next door, or having food, or talking to Peggy. My dad has very strong opinions. It’s only recently I’ve started to tell him he’s talking nonsense. Bryn used to try and engage me in a debate but I was always too shy or too nervous or not sure of the value of my own opinion to engage in the rigorous arguments Bryn would have liked. As I’ve got older and more confident, Bryn has got frailer and less interested in the fight and I’m sorry for that. He had a good opinion, maybe even closer to mine than I would care to admit. He was a strong trade unionist and stood up for workers’ rights. And I always remember him saying “a loaf of bread costs the same for everyone”. I’m very anti-trade unions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think people should be paid a fair wage and treated equally. I’d have liked to have a proper discussion with him about it, now I’m old enough to cope. 

And the more I get to know Doug, the more I realise how similar they are. Doug is very intimidating. Doug has strong opinions. Doug loves his family. Doug is not necessarily a touchy-feely, hands on type of dad. Doug’s patience is thin. Doug would lie down and die for his family. 

And so I loved Bryn because I love Doug. 

Difficult to know. Difficult to understand. Difficult to love. 

But very very very caring. Very very well respected by his family. Very special.