Filed under: Childhood, Comment, Dad, Death, Jill, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents
Oh Dad, how can it be 18 years.
How is that possible?
I remember that phonecall like it was yesterday.
You had been in hospital since Christmas having taken a turn for the worse.
And then on the 27th December, Mum called to say it was very bad and the Doctors had told her that I should come back right away.
In a weird way, this did not worry me.
We had gone through the same situation twice in the last 3 months and both times, you had pulled through.
But then I realised Mum’s voice sounded a bit different … more scared … and that’s when I started to get worried.
As you know, after a rather traumatic flight from Sydney, I got to Nottingham and was by your side at the QMC.
You were very poorly, but you knew I was there and it seemed to help.
But the strange thing is I can’t really remember what happened between arriving by your side and the Doctor asking me if I wanted him to remove the suffering you were going through.
I know Mum and I spent every day – from the moment visiting hours started to when they ended – next to you.
I know I told you how much I loved you. How I tried to will you back to health.
But the actual conversations and considerations are a total blank.
I’d like to say it’s because 18 years is a long time, but it’s actually because my brain refused to let me deal with the realities of your situation until that conversation with the Doctor.
4 years of delusion and denial pricked by a single conversation with the Doctor.
4 years of ignoring Mum as she quietly and tenderly tried to prepare me for the inevitable.
I certainly hope I was better when Mum passed away.
Of course, it was less expected than your situation and yet, deep down, I feared it may happen – as, it seems, did Mum – which is why I was much more aware of what was happening or what may happen.
So I need to thank you yet again, for helping me learn.
For trying to ensure I didn’t face more pain than I absolutely needed to.
Oh Dad, I wish you were here.
I wish I could hear the questions you would have for me.
I wish I could look into your bright blue eyes as you heard what I’d been up to over the last 18 years.
The decisions I’ve made …
The situations I’ve encountered …
The life I have somehow managed to live …
I would give anything to hear the pride – mixed with incredulity – you’d express about the career I’ve managed to forge.
The places it’s let me live. The people it’s let me meet. The experiences it’s let me enjoy.
The family it has let me have.
The daughter-in-law you would absolutely adore.
And the grandson you would be totally obsessed with.
But you’re not here … not physically, anyway … but in a weird way, Mum passing has made me feel closer to you.
Not that you were ever far away, but 18 years meant I had got used to the memory of you rather than the presence of you.
However now Mum has joined you, I kind of feel you’re both near me again.
I know that’s mad and I can see you shaking your head at me … but it’s true.
Don’t worry, I’ve not become a religious fool – but the fact you’re together has helped me a lot because I never was happy that you were both apart from each other.
But now, my mind, you’re back together, as you should be.
As you always were throughout my childhood.
And I cannot tell you how special that was to me.
Even more so now.
So while today is a day of sadness, it is also a day of joy … because you will be happy to know I am no longer lost in the pain of your final few years and can now focus on the wonderful life you had and we shared, exemplified when I had the honour of discovering the card you wrote to Mum when I was born.
I never doubted how much you loved me, but finding this was the verbal equivalent of one of your warm, wonderful hugs.
Sure I cried my eyes out, but oh what a feeling that was.
I so hope Otis feels the same way when he finally stops trying to wriggle out of my arms everytime I give him a cuddle. Ha.
So now it is time to go and I want to leave you by saying that while it has been 18 years, the love I have for you has never faded – if anything, quite the opposite – and even though I wish with all my heart that you were still here to be involved in the daily rituals of my life, the fact you’re with Mum makes the sadness a bit more manageable.
Still miss you though.
Love you Dad.