Philip S. Williams, 4th April 1963 - 13th June 2015

Feels really weird to write that down. 52 years old is no age for someone to die, especially not in 2015. I wish he hadn’t have drawn so short a straw. He was my great friend, and my father, and I’m going to miss that until I draw my own short straw.

Christine and I aren’t married, but I’ve called Philip dad since we first got to know each other, and it’s no disrespect to my own father. In the 4.5 years that Christine and I have been together, I’ve come to know a fantastic friend who shared many of my interests and hobbies.

We played countless Playstation together, swapping PS3, Vita and PS4 games and talked for hours about the games we loved to play. He was an especially big fan of Uncharted and it doesn’t feel right that he won’t be here to play the new one. I’ll feel incredibly sad when I finally play it myself.

He was a huge Chelsea fan and a long-time season ticket holder. He stopped visiting the Bridge when Abi, Christine’s little sister, became old enough to want to spend precious time with him on game days. It didn’t even cross his mind that he’d be giving up his passion, because Abi had easily replaced that in his mind. As a Manchester United fan, and knowing how much Philip loved football and Chelsea before we’d even met, I was apprehensive that we’d even be able to get along. How wrong I was. We watched so many Chelsea vs United games on TV together, full of playful banter and a shared love of the game. I’ll wear an invisible Chelsea scarf whenever they play and cheer them on for him.

He also loved technology. I got him his first smartphone, a Galaxy S2 we no longer needed at work, and he was hooked on the combination of large touchscreen display, advanced and helpful functionality, and great Internet connectivity; the things that define today’s mobile devices really resonated with him and we loved talking about it together. Like with our Chelsea vs United rivalry, he was a Galaxy man and I’ve been an iPhone guy since they were launched. I remember the look on his face when I walked in with a 6 Plus. I’d long teased him about the size of the Note, after he gravitated towards one to replace the smaller Galaxy S and a Galaxy Tab he used to have. No, no, two specialist devices with the right screen sizes are better than one average device in the middle, I used to tell him. He used to love showing me the benefits of the big phone, so when I make the same eventual choice on the Apple side — I gave my iPad to Abi recently, having not switched it on since getting the 6 Plus — he was vindicated. I was supposed to be the expert, yet he was absolutely right.

When Christine and I would go and visit the family in Brighton, he would always joke that there was finally another man in the house to bond with. Christine’s family is packed to the rafters with women, outnumbering the guys by about 5:1 across the branches the family has. So we’d stick together when we visited, finding shelter in our shared interests that we’ve never been able to convince the women in the family to share.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, especially on matters of politics and nationalism. His views came from a different era, moulded by his own father and upheld by the community he’s always found himself in. Despite his position being alien to me, when we talked about it together we’d do so with respect for each other’s views. He listened. I listened. We’d never find common ground in our views, but we always found common understanding of the other’s position. I’ve lost count of the number of supposedly liberal people I’ve met who’ve been far more militant and intolerant with their ideals. I wish more people were like him.

Above all, he was a father and a husband. My loyalty and love for my own family has been forever shaped by watching him be loyal and loving with his. If I manage to stick by, support and love Christine half as much as he did with Sharon, Christine’s mum, I’ll be a great husband. If I love and care for my own kids half as much as he did with Abi and Christine, I’ll be a great father. I often forget that Philip wasn’t Christine’s real dad. She was older than Abi is now when he and Sharon got together, but he treated Christine like his own daughter and raised her as if she was. He was her dad when her real dad could never be. He was more her dad than her real dad is today, and probably ever will be.

I look at how he was with his family, treating me like his son even though he didn’t have to, and I can’t thank him enough for showing me the way.

I miss you so much my friend.