By Kate Forrester
IT’S been nearly two years since I was forced to say goodbye. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago. At other times, barely five minutes. It’s only now I feel able to put my feelings down on paper, having recently come to terms with what happened on June 3, 2012. But occasionally I still get knocked for six, still feel a jolt of pain when the realisation hits, when I remember afresh: Dirk Kuyt doesn’t play for Liverpool any more.
There, I wrote it down. You see – I’ve come a long way.
Those who know me know all about my deep, deep love for Dirk. I have never loved a Liverpool player like I loved him. His tireless work ethic, his penalty-taking composure, his lovely face, his glossy coat. Sorry. Anyway, he was my favourite. So when talk he could be off began at the start of last summer, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared, or willing, to listen to such nonsense. Perhaps it would be best to examine my feelings through the internationally-recognised Kübler-Ross model, or as it’s more commonly known, the five stages of grief.
April 2012 – Denial: “As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of their situation, and begin to develop a false, preferable reality.”
‘Dirk Kuyt is almost certainly going to leave Anfield this summer’, the news told me. Well, the news could fuck off. Of course Dirk wasn’t going to leave. What a ridiculous notion. He loved us. We loved him.
‘You’d better start thinking about who your new favourite is going to be’, Steve Graves warned. Well, Steve could fuck off. I wasn’t going to need a new favourite because Dirk WASN’T GOING TO LEAVE. I wouldn’t have it. I wouldn’t allow it.
‘Kate, he’s not been starting games. That’s not what you want for Dirk, is it? He wants to be playing all the football. He’ll be unhappy if he stays here.’ It was kind of my friends to try to prepare me for Dirk’s departure, to try and soften the blow. But guess what? They could all fuck off as well. Because Dirk was staying. Defo staying. End of story.
May 2012 – Anger: “Once in the second stage, the individual recognises that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Anger can manifest itself in different ways. People can be angry with themselves, or with others, and especially those who are close to them. It is important to remain detached and nonjudgmental when dealing with a person experiencing anger from grief.”
‘Dirk Kuyt rules out return to Feyenoord’, said the papers.
‘SEE?!’ I shouted, furiously, at everyone. ‘Of course he’s not going. You idiots. I told you.’
They just looked at me. Pityingly. Like it was still inevitable. Outrageous.
As the days went on, news began to filter through that Dirk had triggered the release clause in his contract, allowing him to move overseas for just a £1 million. I was furious. Livid. How could Brendan Rodgers do this? I hated him. Hated everyone. People continued to kindly suggest potential new favourites for me. I hated them all.
‘How about Lucas, then? He’s nice, like Dirk.’
‘No. I feel NOTHING for him.’
Harsh. Poor Glen. It wasn’t his fault. I see that now. Unfortunately, I was unable to deal with my emotions in a rational way at the time.
May/early June 2012 – Bargaining: “The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.”
At this stage, I was switching rapidly between bargaining and threatening. I grumbled to anyone who would listen about how I wasn’t going to support Liverpool any more. If there was no Dirk, what was the point? I was in it for the emotional attachment and I just wasn’t getting it from Jose Enrique. But if Dirk stayed, then it’d all be okay. Maybe I could persuade him? What sort of things does he like to eat? I could send a hamper. I could go and batter Brendan and make him reconsider. Let Dirk stay and I’d be nicer to everyone. I wouldn’t be as angry. Just let me have a few more years.
June 3, 2012 – January 2014 – Depression: “During the fourth stage, things begin to lose meaning to the griever. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and sullen. This process allows the grieving person to disconnect from things of love and affection, possibly in an attempt to avoid further trauma.”
On June 3, it happened. Fenerbahce officially announced they’d signed Dirk Kuyt. Terrible, terrible news. Devastation. How could life ever be the same? For the first time, I started to half examine the possibilities for a new favourite myself. But my heart wasn’t in it. I loved Luis, yes. In a totally different way. But it was all I had. I’d have to go for it. I’d have to pretend that I could carry on. The new season began. I watched us play. But there was something missing. It just wasn’t the same without Dirk. There was no-one there to replace the joy I felt at seeing him Dirking around all over the place. Everything was grey and I felt like nobody understood. I was all alone.
January 2014 – Present – Acceptance: “In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their inevitable future or other tragic event. This typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable mindset.”
Something has happened since the start of the year. Well, loads of things of happened, as well you know. But it was only in the dying weeks of this season that I realised something. And I spent most of Sunday night drunkenly saying it to anyone who could be forced into listening.
Brendan Rodgers’ Tricky Reds had not only given me, and all of us, one of the best seasons of our lives – they had allowed me to come to terms with losing Dirk. They had given me hope for the future and the strength to carry on without him. It had been a very gradual, slow process, happening without me fully realising it. But colour has returned. I still don’t have a new favourite and I don’t know if I will again. But that’s mainly because it’s really difficult to choose between Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem, Luis, Phil Coutinho…
I still miss him, of course. And life will never be quite the same. But we’re going to win the league next year. And Dirk has already done it this time around. He’s happy, I’m happy.
And at least I’ve still got my mug.
Match pics: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda