Recently we lost my wonderful Dad to his fight with oesophogeal cancer. He was the most wonderful man in the world and not a day goes by where he is not missed unbearably. When you first find out that one of your parents has a terminal illness so many thoughts are flying through your head at a million miles an hour. None of which I could make any sense of, and I’m still struggling with some of it to this day, but I guess this is a handful of things that are starting to make sense to me.
When you first find out that one of your parents is dying, you have to come to terms with the fact that one of the most important people in your life’s time left on this planet is now finite. When you find out your parent is dying, you die along with them inside, just as slowly. It’s absolutely soul destroying as you have to watch their pain and suffering, all of this from one of the only people who have helped you and picked you back up from your worst and made you feel better no matter what. And you just have to sit back, and watch. My Dad was dying, and I could do absolutely nothing. Nothing. Nothing to stop the inevitable.
It’s just fucking awful to watch your parent; my larger than life, funny, kind and happy go lucky Dad wither away into a small and frail cancer patient right before my eyes. And in all honesty, it happened way quicker than I ever could have imagined. You lose so much sleep, just lying awake in bed wondering if tomorrow is the day that you get the dreaded phone call to say that he’s gone and that you weren’t there to say goodbye. Every day at work becomes that little bit more difficult as you approach yet another shift without any sleep.
Nothing tastes right and so you find yourself forgetting to eat or drink, sometimes for days at a time. It’s not a conscious decision or anything, it just isn’t a concern anymore. Taking care of yourself takes a back seat as your mind just refuses to focus on such seemingly pointless tasks as showering.
You will find yourself becoming so irrationally angry at the cancer, hell at the traffic lights even, because that fucking bastard is slowly stealing my hero away. It means that my children will never meet their Grandad or see that famous smile of his in person. Normal things just become impossible. Just going out for drinks seems pointless because how can I go and drink pint after pint with you at the pub while I know my Dad is lying in a bed slowly dying? What’s the fucking point? How can everything in the world just carry on when my world is lying helpless in a hospital bed? It just isn’t fair.
When you are losing a parent, it makes you feel so selfish as you find yourself thinking things like “please, please just make it to Christmas” just so that you can spend the holiday with him, even if just for one last time. One of the biggest things that breaking my heart right now is that I can never be walked down the aisle by my Dad now if I get married as he’s gone forever, and I can never get him back.
When you have a parent who is dying, you have to quickly learn to push past the fact that you will still sometimes experience some kind of joy and happiness in your life, despite everything. And eventually, you will learn to realise that that is okay, because your parent would have wanted nothing less than for you to be happy.
For me, losing a parent meant breathing in his scent when I hugged him goodbye to try and remember his smell. Trying to find and save every video and voicemail that I have of his so that I never ever forget the sound of his voice. Holding his hands for as long as possible so that I can always recall how they felt. I can’t allow myself to forget any of these little details. Details that made my Dad just that, mine.
When your parent is dying, and even more so when you have eventually lost them, your friends will most definitely say the wrong things, but you will forgive them immediately as you know that they mean well. You smile and nod as people will say the wrong things over and over again that hurt at face value, but you will learn to let it slide as you know that they are only trying to help you to stop hurting, even if only just for a few moments.
You will find that sympathy can be completely exhausting. Again, as I say you know that people mean well but when you are trying to go about your day and remain strong enough to get through a shift at work, a constant barrage of sympathy can just act as a huge reminder about what you don’t want to think about. You’ll have moments where the pain and loss slips to the edge of your mind as real life will inevitably take over again. After all the bills still need paying and the kitchen cupboards won’t refill themselves. You’ll scream at yourself and question how you can carry on in a world without them, but inevitably realise that that is all they would have wanted for you. For you to carry on, and live the best life that you can.
Everyone always mocks me for being the one to always take photo’s, even sometimes when it seems like there is nothing to document. But since losing Dad I am so grateful for all of the photographs and videos that I have of the amazing times that we got to spend together. I will never forget him of course, but being able to look back at his trademark smile when the world seems a little too dark without him in it at that moment, really does help to bring me back to reality and want to strive to make him proud of me.
I’m sorry this one turned into such a long one guys but I must say it was quite therapeutic to write everything down. Thank you to everyone for your messages of comfort during this time, it meant an awful lot and has helped to pull me out of some awful moments. I miss my Dad every day, he was the most wonderful man I have ever met and I will be eternally grateful for all of the memories we shared and for everything that he did for me. He made me the woman that I am today and I will love him always. Thank you Dad, I’ll see you again one day. Sweet dreams.