Today will be 3 years since we lost my dad.
I have never really written much about it before, simply because I couldn’t find the words.
I had shut off my feelings and ‘got on with’ my ever so busy life.
The kids needed me to be strong.
My mum needed me to be strong.
There was always an excuse as to why I couldn’t take the time to let myself grieve and mourn the loss of my father.
Turns out I’m not that strong.
The lid I placed on the bottle has come loose and now is as good a time as any to confront my grief and try to let it go.
I cry a lot about losing Dad.
For so many reasons too.
I cry because I was never really close to him as a child.
Dad and I developed a fantastic relationship only in the last 18 months of his life.
Before that we just clashed. I had my ways, and he had his and they couldn’t have been any further apart.
I wish that I could have had the relationship with my Dad that my brother did.
They always seemed to get along and had similar interests.
In the end Dad and I connected over Facebook.
He was one of those ‘Stalker’ parents that liked each and every post you made, but it didn’t matter because it was the first time ever that we had actually started getting along.
Dad would go to bed early but get up around 11pm each night for a slice of toast and a cuppa. He’d get on Facebook chat and ask how the kids were. Whether they went to bed without an argument and if I wanted some help with them in the morning. He did this every single night. Without fail.
Sometimes as I sit here, blogging and checking in on Facebook, and I glance at the clock.
11pm, and he’s no longer online.
I cry for the loss my children had when their beloved ‘Grumpy’ died.
He was a very devoted grandparent.
He told each and every one of them that they were ‘The best kid in the street’, and filled their minds with knowledge well beyond their years from such an early age.
He taught them how to use a computer by the time they were 2, taught them all about the night sky and generally spoiled them rotten.
Their hearts still ache and Jai still sleeps with a photo collage of Grumpy beside his bed.
I still to this day believe that the nonsense behavior really kicked in once Dad passed away.
I have asked so many times for some kind of counseling for them and get turned away every time.
It’s also about the same time Aria developed her sleeping issues too.
These kids saw my Dad every day. They were as close to him as they could get to a grandparent.
I also cry because they never got the chance to say goodbye.
The doctors told me that it’s best if they remember him as he was at home. Not in the hospital.
They were so upset and angry with me for not letting them in there. Sometimes I think I made the wrong choice.
The funeral was the hardest. Their grief was raw and they cried it out hard. I’ll never forget their faces that day.
I cry because Mum is now alone.
It’s funny because Mum and Dad were a bit like Chalk and Cheese.
They didn’t always get along, but without one it’s just not the same.
The impact that Dad’s death had on Mum was massive.
She had been his carer. All through his battle with Cancer. She put her stresses and worries and struggles aside and did what she had to do to help him through it.
Then he was gone. Just like that.
She no longer knew what her purpose was.
It’s been a long and tough road and she’s on the better side of it now.
There are still rough days, to be expected, but she’s finding her feet again.
Dad died in hospital in the evening of Nov 30 2009.
He was in ICU.
He had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor that was blocking his esophagus.
The surgery was a success and he came through ok.
We visited Dad in ICU, where he was to stay for a few days until everything stabilised.
He was happy to see baby Levi and whinging because the nurse he had wouldn’t help him have a shave.
He asked persistently about the kids and could not wait to see them once he was moved to a regular ward.
His English accent was stronger after the operation, which made us all giggle.
On about day 3 or 4 (it’s all a big blur to me really), before we headed out on the 100km trip to visit him, the hospital rang mum to tell her Dad had taken a turn for the worst.
They said he seemed to have an infection of some sort and were putting him into an induced coma while they pumped his body full of antibiotics.
What follows was to be nothing short of a crazy emotional rollercoaster ride.
We would be told he was on the mend, the drugs were working and things were looking up.
Then it was 2 steps backwards again. He wasn’t responding.
We got ‘The Talk’. The one where a team of doctors take you into a small room and outline exactly how bad things are.
They told us to expect the worst, and to expect it soon.
Another 2 days passed and Dad was looking like he was going to pull through again.
Then we got ‘The Talk’ again.
I only visited Dad by myself once while he was in ICU.
A friend had purchased us tickets to a Pearl jam concert months and months in advance and Mum made me go.
I even cried there, in the middle of the crowd. I still can’t listen to the song ‘Given to fly’ without tearing up.
On my way home from the concert, I stopped in.
I pulled the chair up beside the bed and I held Dad’s hand tight.
Dad was awake. He was somewhat responsive but heavily sedated.
I told him how grateful I was for all the things he had given me over the years.
For the relationship that we had finally developed.
For the time he put in with the kids and the love he showed for us all.
I begged and begged him not to give up the fight.
I read the messages that the nurses had written from family on the whiteboard out to him and I know he could hear me.
I told him for the first time since I was a child that I loved him.
I rested my head on his arm and I sobbed. Uncontrollably. I wished for him to get better.
I prayed to someone up there to grant my wish, and when the nurse eventually came in to check his stats, I squeezed his hand and left.
I felt Dad’s hand tighten and squeeze mine back as he looked up at me and mouthed the words ‘I love you’ back.
I’ve never told anyone what went on that day. I have held that memory so tight and close to my heart because it’s mine.
And no one else’s.
Dad gave up the fight half an hour after we left the hospital on the 30th.
We returned to say our final good byes and the numbness of that moment has stayed with me since.
I hope by writing this down I can let go of some of the pain that I have been holding on to.
I want to free the ‘numbness’ that I have and move on.
Cancer is a horrid, horrid beast.
Losing a parent is life changing, no matter how old you are, and life will never ever be the same again.
I will never forget dad, and although we weren’t always the best of friends, I will always love and appreciate him being my father.