When I heard the news yesterday that David Cameron's father had died, I felt great sympathy for him. I lost my father in 2003 and I can sympathise with him at this moment in time.
Whatever your political colours, taking a step back and looking at what he's had to contend with in his personal life over the last 18 months, it's been a rollercoaster ride that few can surely, properly comprehend. Since the start of 2009 he has had to contend with the death of his eldest son, becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, becoming a father for the 4th time and now, the sudden death of his father. The fact that his father Ian never met his youngest grandchild Florence is an added sad piece to this particular personal story.
I don't know how David Cameron dealt with the death of a son, a birth of a daughter and becoming Prime Minister. But I can empathise with how he must be feeling about the death of a father.
My father passed away suddenly in the summer of 2003 when I was 20 years old. 7 years passes quickly but the sadness and melancholy of thinking about that sad time never will. I had just finished University and was 5 weeks from graduation when he died. No other time of my life comes close to that week of utter grief that I felt between his death and his funeral. The loss of a parent marks a seminal moment in your life. Suddenly, I was father-less and I would be so for the rest of my life. Dad was only 66 when he died - no age really and I knew that he'd never be there for those central moments in my life that may lay before me. Graduation, marriage, grandchildren. He wouldn't see these events and they wouldn't see him. It's an overwhelming, heart-breaking sense of loss that overcomes you when these feelings materialise.
I can remember the days leading up to the funeral only through the tears and the support that the whole family gave each other. Dad was a gentle man, a loving family man and was the father figure to 5 children - I was the youngest. Thankfully, we're a tight-knit family and we were all there to support each other at this time of grief and loss.
I can recall also taking solace in reading. During those bleak few days, I read through Roy Jenkins' mamouth autobiography of Winston Churchill. It was something to do and an escapism from the moment.
The funeral was on a bright, sunny Saturday. It felt apt. In years gone by, Dad would've no doubt have spent such a day bringing in the silage. It was the best of a bad day, if that makes sense. It was nice to see old friends and members of the family I hadn't seen in years. It gave me extra support on the day.
I decided during those days in June that I would not return to University to do the Masters which I'd signed up too. I would stay at home and help the family in whichever way I could. As the summer progressed, my family all persuaded me to revert to my original plans. I'm glad they did. Life had to move on, no matter how dificult and different it would now be without Dad. I therefore went back to Aberystwyth University that Autumn to study my MA and from there I was offered the opporunity to work with the Liberal Democrats in Ceredigion and the rest flowed from there.
Each individual circumstance is different. David Cameron is much older than I am and has much more 'life experience' that his father was a part of than I had with mine. But the sense of loss will be just as acute for him.
What he will have, as have I, are the wonderful memories of being with a loving father. A father who shaped what we have become and who will always be a part of what we are to become.
The song that I associate with my father more than any other when I hear it, is Elton John's 'Circle of Life'. It's a melancholic tune but one which reminds me that this, unfortunately is the way of things. Life is tough and we have no alternative but to make the most of the hand that we're dealt.
But we have the good memories. They're what matter most. Hopefully, David and his family will hold on to them as dearly as I have these past 7 years and will do for the remainder of my life.