Tough challenge ahead this week.

Tuesday 17 May 2016. Almost very nearly precisely a year ago. Blog posts that I’ve not read back since I wrote them. Unable to look at what I tried to express on that Tuesday…..and then…then the Wednesday. I just tried again. I just failed again. 
My dad died on Wednesday 18 May. A form of lung cancer that spread to his kidneys and other parts of his prematurely-aged body. He fought and fought. By God, he fought. Just two weeks prior, we’d been watching the rugby live in Cardiff, drinking Brains in packed pubs, laughing with cousins and close friends… and then…then 10 days later he was rushed in to hospital again….and then he didn’t leave. We were all there, we all got to spend quality time with him, we laughed with him, and he never once mentally gave up. Sure, physically, you could see the collapse. His body fucked him about for days. Mentally,  he fought and fought, battled, scrapped with the terror taking him. I’ll never forget spending the night in his hospital room, darkness drawing life out of the room at 3am, despite the artificial, lifeless glare of the overhead lights. He couldn’t breathe,  his O2 was up at Max, and he stayed calm. He breathed shallow, controlled, hour after hour after hour…until daylight and the life of a new day returned. He slept then, recharged as best he could for what lay ahead.

I’ll never forget that. In the year since it has inspired me on more than one occasion. Of course, I’ve never been through a battle like that, what I do doesn’t compare even slightly. But his strength pushes me all the time.

So, this week is going to be tough. We put so much stock and attention in to anniversaries that it is impossible to treat this week…or that day…like any other. My mother, sisters and I will have dinner together on Thursday, 18 May 2017. I dont know how it’s going to be but I’m happy to be with them. Mrs Nomad and I have tried to anticipate this week, we’ve aimed off for the emotion with the children. I didn’t think it would actually be that bad. 

Feelings are already beginning to roll in, to hit, like the first, clean, building waves of a storm against a shore, before the chaotic riot of water, surf, weed, and hidden rocks tumbling me over and round, uncontrolled. 

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Tues 17 May 16 – Watching my dad slowly go (Fuck you, Cancer, give me my dad back!!)

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This was the screen that welcomed me in to my dad’s room at 0230. Having sped down here yesterday after he was rushed back in to hospital,  I made my way 2hrs back to London to change clothes, have a bath and get some sleep. An hour in to blissful solitude, my younger sister phoned with an update that brought me right back down again.

Yesterday was looking positive, truth be told. All the family from wildest Wales had been through the room with smiles, jokes,  balloon flowers, hugs and kisses. Even the sun made a wonderful pre – summer showing. Dad was chatting between sucking down on his O2 mask. I thought we might even have weeks left with him.

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I mean, if you’re gonna have a view from your hospital room then this isn’t a bad one, right?

But now, the night has taken hold.

The darkness fills the windowscape.

It might be hours, not even days.

My dad is struggling to breathe, his oxygen bag failing to fill as he gulps it all in immediately, despite the 15 litres being pumped through to him. I will it to fill each time, begging the pipes to give him just a little more. His shallow, swift breathing scrapes his desert – dry throat. He’s fighting. He’s somehow keeping control of his intake despite hypoxia, mild delerium and aching pains throughout his body. He is still so strong, he won’t give in despite the odds. He humbles me as I sit next to him and stifle back my tears, welling sadness and budding grief. Mum grips his other hand, my younger sister retreats under a blanket in exhaustion while the elder one takes her shift on guard. Holding his hand, the damage of 3 courses of increasingly destructive chemotherapy are evident. Patches of missing hair along his arms, muscular weakness where even last year there was natural strength; him wrestling my three young daughters before Christmas is still clear and fresh in my mind, in fact. The speed of this degradation borders on insanely criminal. How dare he not be given a chance to fight back and win? Fuck you, Cancer, give me back my Dad!!!!

He’s not slept properly in days but can’t for fear of losing the forced control of his breathing. He presses on.

He’s just told my mum, “don’t be afraid, I’m ok”.

It’s 0400 now, his SpO2 drops to 59% before crawling back up the charts to rest in the mid 60s……come on, Dad.

His breathing rasps on, a gravel-like hoarseness, in and out.