Peacefully. With his wife’s arms tight around him until beyond the very end, and his father’s own blanket tucked in his hands.
On his own terms, he made the call when he was ready. Mum, me, his daughters and our partners were all present throughout. He saw that. He chose to relieve our suffering, nothing compared to his but he always put us first.
To attempt to describe the precise events would be to do them a quite horrid injustice. I would fail to capture the emotions, feelings, tears and even genuine comedy that played out this evening.
Besides, some things are too personal, I’m sure you understand. That’s ours.
Sitting here in the families room, having made the necessary phone calls to the wider family, there is little emotion left. We’ve sobbed, held each other, laughed hysterically, eaten Chinese food and drunk Gin & Tonics. We’ve been appropriate, wildly inappropriate, enraged, desperate, denying, gentle, angry, stubborn, and loving throughout. The numbness I feel right now is the product of relief, an empty tank and the realisation not having properly sunk in that my father has died.
2.5 weeks ago, Dad and I trucked around Cardiff in a folding wheelchair to watch rugby, eat pies and drink beers. It was the weekend we never got to do for years while my folks lived in the middle east. We sang anthems, bought tat, took the piss out of each other and messed about as best buddies. We spoke of new adventures in the summer and autumn, of trips abroad and nights on the Port. There were plans.
Now there aren’t plans.
Cancer took our plans.
But this isn’t about cancer, it’s about my dad. As I thumb this post, the emotions I thought had numbed resurface in an overwhelming, flooding torrent and smash me around the corridor. I hold the wall until the room stops. Overwhelming loss. My 58 year old Dad is gone. My mentor. My confidante. The guy most unafraid to cut me down to size despite my 3 inches on him should the need arise. …as it did on occasion. The first in line to cheer me on the sports pitch, beam at my school (and work) reports, advise me on women stuff (I think ‘guess’ is a more accurate term) and buy me first official pint when I turned 18 – Guinness – in Red Lion, Drayton. My Anger bubbles beneath the waves. I want to smash doors, hurl tables, scream and yell at the moon outside. How fucking dare cancer do this to my family? Fuck you!! FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My mum is without her husband, lover, best friend, soul mate!!! FUCK YOU CANCER!!! Give my Dad back! !!
Aaargh!!!!! Aaaaaaaaarghhhhgfdddhhbcyfhhjxkfksksjfjdj hejshsbbsjwjhcnrnsgqfqgzcnfmkcmncnxjdnajxjci jfjdjfnfmdkxkc kk xkkdek FUUUUUUUUUCCCK YOOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!!!!!??????!??!!!
I can’t scream. There are other, living patients on the ward. I bury it, pull it all in, find a box and lock it in. There’s another day for this.
Instead, I sob. Mrs Nomad holds me while I squeeze my eyes shut until dry, like a defiant child against their parents scolding. For no reason, I recall a time as a very, very young child; we were staying with Gran in Neath. All three children were so small that we would sleep together in a foldout, sofa bed. One night we were messing about (every night!) and Dad was ordered by the Mum/Gran tag team to get upstairs and sort us out. I remember his standing in the door, trying to tell us off. What ever kept us belly laughing quickly infected him and he joined us on the floor, playing and rolling around.
Sitting outside his room on the polished, clean floor in my uniform, I’ve said my goodbyes now. I’ve been in uniform all day after a stint in work this morning. I stayed in uniform to let Dad know I’ll protect this family always; he can’t speak today but he can see, he can smile. Promises have been made to him. My eternal gratefulness passed to him. I am who I am in overwhelming part because of him.
He inspired me with every talk, joke, advice, quiet afternoon together. Please come back, Dad, we’re not done!!!! Please, Dad. DAD!!!!!!!???????
I got this, Dad, you rest now. No more struggles for you, Dad. No more indignity of a disease controlling you. You are free again.
Bye, bye Dad. Sleep well, old man. I miss you.
Mum goes in to talk to him. She has the final goodbye.