Time and the memories of May – By Benjamin Minett

Time. What is time? Is it a concept we all experience in the same way or does the experience of time differ from person to person or event to event? Two years of time have passed. Two years since you took your final breath with us all by your side. In one way it feels like a lifetime since I have been able to watch a game with you or have one of our everlasting convoluted conversations on the finer points of politics, the greatest band ever or the best Chelsea 11 of all time. In another way, the memories of your final 24 hours are still so vivid that it barely feels like two weeks have passed.

30th May 2019. That was the day. The day we were all able to hold your hand, guide you through your final moments and say our goodbyes until we are able to meet again. I feel an overwhelming sense of contemplation as the anniversary approaches. I do find comfort in that emotion. Should the month of May be a difficult period of time to navigate? Not for me, as my contemplation reminds me of all the wonderful days of this month, we were able to share throughout or time together. Sunny, victorious days. For this is the month where traditionally, the football season ends, Champions are crowned, and cups are hoisted high.

19th May 2018. By this point we were all more knowledgeable about your cancer, we knew it was terminal and had all begun our journeys in coming to terms with that. We watched together as was tradition for us, as Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup Final. We were fortunate enough throughout the years to witness our club win numerous honours and coincidentally this day marked 6 years since we had travelled to Munich together to watch us win the big one; that seemingly elusive European Cup. We both cried tears of joy that night in 2012 but it was only me who shed tears with the Cup win in 2018. You asked why I was so emotional, and I explained that this might be the last win we get to experience together. Then came the promise. The promise that this would not be our last. You would fight your hardest no matter what so that we could share another win together.

29th May 2019. I arrived around 4pm and we warmly embraced with a hug and a fist bump as you lay on the hospital bed in your living room. We knew this would be the last. Chelsea v Arsenal in the Europa League Final. I held your hand as the drugs driver was inserted into your arm and a restful hour or two passed until it was time for the game. As the game progressed your sedation began to take hold, but you still reacted to the goals and major events of the game. Towards the final moments of the match a little agitation started for you, but in the end that worked out well as you were awake and lucid enough to see us lift the trophy. That was it, promise upheld. One last trophy together. It was abundantly clear at this point that you were in the final days, if not hours of your life and now that the promise had been upheld you were ready to end the fight and say goodbye to us all the following day.
May isn’t just about memories of football. Memories of May are also about normal, regular everyday events. You watching over us kids in the back yard as we begged to get the paddling pool out for the first warm day of the year. Planning our family summer getaway. Bank holidays spent down the park or visiting family. But that promise of May 2018 overshadows everything. You fought so hard and endured so much pain to reach that target and for that I will never forget and will be forever grateful.

To the present day; Time moves more slowly for myself these days. I see that as a positive. Through a variety of techniques and much practice I have been able to calm my mind and give acknowledgement to each and every thought. Contemplative moods rise and fall, and the memories remain strong and clear. Dwelling on past glory days or becoming stuck in beautiful memories is such a natural emotion when dealing with grief. However, if we are unable to appreciate living in the present or acknowledge the nowness of current situations then we are letting time slip away. I owe it to you Dad, to not let time slip away. Time defeats us all in the end. The impermanence of life is, in my opinion, one of the deepest and realest beauties. Our time together was beautiful, filled with love, appreciation and positivity right until the very end. Slowly but surely, I come to the realisation that time without you, despite missing my best friend, hero and idol, can also be full of those very same things.

May time allow us to come to terms with our grief and acknowledge beauty in the now as well as our everlasting memories.

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