I remember distinctly the first time I heard this song. I was watching a documentary on BBC2 about a family who had a son who was autistic. He got so distressed by eveyday life, they had moved to some remote spot in Scotland. The documentary was profoundly moving and at the end they played ‘Good Riddance, I hope you had the time of your life’ by Green Day.
Toby must have been in his late teens, because I rushed upstairs humming the song to him, and asking him to Google it to see who it was by. He raised his eyebrows and said ‘It’s by Green Day, and you can’t like that, because that is a band I like’.
I downloaded it and it became one of my favourite songs. I don’t know the real meaning, but loved the lyrics.
‘Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don’t ask why
It’s not a question but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable but in the end is right, I hope you had the time of your life’
When Toby went away to University in 2008, I wrote him a letter and I told him that whilst it was important to study hard and get his degree, what I wanted most for him was to experience life. I told him to stay up all night and see the sunrise, to fall madly in love and kiss lots of girls and to relish every moment.
I told Toby one day that I wanted the Green Day song played at my funeral.
When Toby died, I had the unenviable task of planning his funeral, nothing will ever prepare you for planning your child’s funeral but it is the last thing we can do for the person we have lost, and it becomes really important to say goodbye in the way you think they would want. I was also aware that I was planning this for his friends to be able to say Good bye, and they were all young men and women in their 20s and 30s.
It just seemed right to have Green Day ‘I hope you had the time of your life’ played at Toby’s ceremony, because that is all I ever really wanted for him. Sod degrees, high paying jobs, flash cars. I just wanted him to experience life to the full.
I don’t know whether he ever did ever fall madly in love or stay up all night to see the sunrise, but I hope he had the time of his life in his short life.
So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while
It’s something unpredictable but in the end is right, I hope you had the time of your life