Remembering my Dad.

I was lying in bed in a bedsit located in Rangueil hospital in Toulouse. It was a really basic room which kind of reminded me of the rooms I slept in when I got sent on a work course. Really basic. Bed, little table and not much else. It had a bathroom though which was good because I really didn’t fancy sharing with a bunch of random people. I had been staying there for the last week. At least I thought it was about a week. Time had kind of blurred together and I didn’t even know what day it was. I was staying there with my mum so that we were close to my dad who was in intensive care in the actual hospital. For the last few weeks we had been going back and forth from my parents house which was about an hour and a half drive each way, which in itself was quite demanding, but nowhere near as bad as staying in these cramped rooms. We decided it was important to be close by when mum received a phone call from the doctor saying that they feared my dad might die and that if we wanted to see him we needed to come to the hospital that night, because he might not be there in the morning. We’d only just got back from playing golf when that phone call came and I’ve never felt anything like the fear I experienced in that moment. I tried not to get too worked up, after all, the doctors were speaking to my mum in French about things she might struggle to fully understand in English, let alone the fact that this wasn’t the first time the doctors had over exaggerated something about the severity of my Dad’s condition. None the less, just looking at my mum and seeing how instantly devastated she was, forced me to use all the self control I had to not let the emotion envelop me. We rushed around packing our things, and got in the car and made out way to the hospital.

Dad was in there because he had some kind of infection, but this was just the latest in a long line of things that had been going wrong with him. I don’t know the exact chronology of when things started to get bad but it wasn’t an overnight thing. He’d had a heart attack when he was in his late thirties, and had another couple since, one major and one minor (if there is such a thing). Multiple bypasses had been followed by angioplasty after angioplasty amongst other things. My dad used to tell me it was due to his naturally high cholestoral combined with a really unhealthy lifestyle when he was younger. Probably explains why I hate smoking so much and take fitness so seriously. Anyway, the heart attacks inevitably weaken the heart which means they dose you up on tons of medication which sorts you out. But this comes with a price. The medication that keeps you going also has side effects, and after years of taking blood thinners and statins and god knows what else (seriously, you could have started a pharmacy with what was in my dads drug cupboard!), he had eventually developed Diabetes and Kidney problems. He was eventually put on Dialysis which did help, but even so, it always seemed to be one thing after another, which was very stressful for my mum and infinitely frustrating for my dad. The last time he had been in hospital they had decided he was going to be eligible for a TAVI heart valve replacement. They had wanted to replace the valve for years, but deemed it too dangerous, however recent advances in medical science meant that they could now do it in a less invasive way and so they scheduled him in for the operation. This was big news for us as a family. He had become so unfit, literally unable to walk for more than a minute or so without becoming tired, and now we finally had a reason, and more than this, a potential solution. When they got home from hospital that last time there was a real sense of hope, or at least that’s what I felt, being only privy to the information I got when Facetiming them. I think now that things were probably worse than I knew but my dad wanted to protect me from it. That’s something that never changed from the moment I was born. Whatever the case, there was that most precious of things; hope. But as I’ve learnt recently, hope is a fragile thing, predicated on the knowledge that things are far from certain. And so it proved with my dad. Only a few days after getting back from the hospital, he started coming down with the symptoms of a fever, despite not running a temperature. After a day or so he had lots of pain in his leg, which was swollen and red, as well as the fever symptoms. The pain became such that he couldn’t even touch it or walk, leading my mum to call an ambulance and my dad to be put into intensive care. I had flown out a few days later. In my mind, I was going out to look after my mum and to brighten my dad’s day a bit while he recovered.

We went and saw him the day that I arrived and spent a few hours with him. Apart from being so much smaller that he should have been had he been healthy, he just looked like my dad. He had tubes coming out of everywhere and bandages all over him, but then we had long since become used to the sight of my dad covered in plasters and bandages of all sorts. The medication he took to keep his blood thin had the drawback of meaning his skin was thinner and his blood didn’t clot well, so he was forever catching himself on things and then bleeding for days on end. I’d always here him walking around and then hear him mutter ‘Blast it!’, signifying he’d just opened up another bleeder. We used to chuckle about it together at times. So there he was, tubes and wires everywhere, but most importantly, the big smile as soon as he saw me. As soon as I saw that smile I was convinced that everything was going to be okay. That smile always meant things would be okay. When I was a kid, when I was at uni, as a man, it didn’t matter, no problem was too big because as long as my dad was there with that smile and to tell me what to do.

‘Hello m’D!’ he said as soon as he saw me.

‘Hey Dad.’

And it could almost have been normal. We talked about the stuff we would normally talk about and joked about the things we would normally joke about. He was incredulous at Borris Johnson being appointed the Foreign Secretary. He wanted to know how Chris Froome was doing in the Tour De France. He told me how to work the tractor so I could cut the grass. We went back to the house that night and I was convinced that the doctors would do their thing  and that he would hopefully be home soon. Even my mum thought he would be home within a few weeks. So we went home and talked and looked after each other. That cycle repeated itself for the next few days; hospital in the afternoon, lots of driving and analysing every little change in his condition. After the first day he seemed to be getting worse, little by little, but I rationalised that was probably because he was on so much morphine. He was much less with it, conscious a lot less and his infection had spread. Well I thought it had spread anyway. Maybe it was a secondary one. Whatever the case his condition overall seemed to be not heading the way we wanted and for the first time, I started to really get worried. And so it was that we got the phone call from the doctors and were making our way to the hospital, facing down the reality that this was the last time we were ever going to see him. I was going to watch my dad die.


 

The thing about my dad  was that he was just the best kind of person. Everyone probably thinks that about their dad. But ask anyone that knew him. I remember my Grandad once saying to me that he thought my dad was a much better person than he was, because my dad had no reason to me. He wasn’t religious, didn’t have any illusions of an afterlife or otherworldly rewards, he was just a good person because, well he just was a good person. My Grandad, who I would say is one of the best and kindest people I know, was convinced that were it not for his religious beliefs, he wouldn’t be as kind a person as my old man. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that he wasn’t wrong about my dad. He was the kind of person that would go out of his way to help other people, especially if you were someone he cared about. I remember when I was ten and my world was going to end if I didn’t get the Power Rangers Megazord toy and made no secret of my impending doom to my dad. I almost feel guilty about this now because he then spent the weeks and months leading up to Christmas trekking to every Toys R’ Us in London to try and get one. Every. Single. Night. That’s a dedication I can’t even get my head around, but that was the measure of the man, always willing to inconvenience himself to help out, and especially so when it came to me.

I remember when I was 15 and one of my best friends was supposed to be coming on holiday with me, but his parents were a little bit worried about it. My dad went all the way to their house to introduce himself and to show them photos of the house in France, just to put their minds at ease that their son was in safe hands. I can’t even count the times he used to pick my friends up or drop them off. In fact for a whole year during my final year at school, he used to pick my friend and I up at 5pm and then take us to McDonalds to get a milkshake, before dropping my friend home; and this, all because I had been given a year long detention because I never did my homework. But that was him. Always putting me first. Most of my stories are about him helping me, but I know that if I was to ask his friends, there would be millions of stories that reflect my experience.


 

When we pulled up at the hospital, my stomach was doing somersaults and I felt like I could be sick at any moment. I’m not really the type to get nervous, but I couldn’t stop myself from shaking. Most of the obstacles we come across in life are things that we can sort out one way or another; lose your job and you can go and get another one, get your heart broken and you can eventually find a new lover, arguments with friends can be resolved and money troubles can be solved, but losing someone is something that offers no hope. It’s final and as I got out of that car, it was that finality that was weighing on me so strongly that every step was hard to take. Or maybe I just wanted to delay getting there. It’s hard to know how you will react to that kind of news, but I just found that I was trying to analyse everything. Every little piece of information I had. When I look back now, I think I was probably in a bit of shock. As we made our way into the hospital for what I thought would be the last time, I found that the entire thing seemed surreal. I kept getting moments where the intellectual understanding, the philosophical importance and the reality of the situation crashed together and in those moments I found it almost too much too bear. How could it be happening? It wasn’t fair. Anger, confusion, fear, all dragging me down to that place where you cease to function properly as a person and become like a kid again. Small and scared.

When we got into the hospital room, he looked pretty much like the last time I’d seen him.  Tired and weak. That was the thing that was bothering me the most; he seemed so small and weak. Even in the week since I’d arrived, his strength seemed to have wained terribly, to the point where my mum was giving him water to drink through a straw and even sucking was hard work. Again I wasn’t really sure if it was the morphine or not, but it scared the life out of me. When he first opened his eyes he gave me a wink and a small smile; all he could muster I suppose, but just that tiny gesture lifted my spirits in a way I couldn’t describe to you. He was still there. Still fighting. And he knew I was there with him. When the doctors eventually came and spoke to us, they spelled out what was going on. Basically his heart was too weak to get the blood around his body which was why the infection hadn’t cleared. But there was hope, they were going to do a small operation which was going to perform the same function as the valve replacement would have, but only on a temporary basis. I explained what was going on to my dad and even with all that was going on and with him not getting enough oxygen to his brain, he understood. It’s hard to look at someone and see them at the end of their resolve, but I could tell that he was struggling to find any vestige of positivity in his situation, so I tried my best to reassure him that the operation was going to make him feel a lot better. It was serious enough that they were going to do it that very night and before I knew it, they were wheeling him away to prep him.


 

One of the things that my dad was really passionate about was politics. Before I was born he was elected to the local council in Glyndon, representing Labour. My dad was a massive lefty. He voted Corbyn in the last Labour leadership election so that should tell you what his political views were like. If I think about my dad, one of the things that comes to my mind before anything else is his love of politics and the Labour Party. He was so passionate about it and I used to spend hours with him asking him questions about this policy or that politician or why a certain political issue was such a big deal. He was entrenched in it for a big portion of his life and that passion never left him. I think it came down to the fact that he hated social injustice and genuinely believed that politics could be used to for the betterment of society, rather than as a chess game or point scoring debacle masquerading as representation of the people. One of the reasons my mum and dad took the decision to retire early was that my dads job, working for the Labour MP for Eltham, was causing him a lot of stress; the reason being that he was constantly dealing with other people’s problems. Housing issues. Immigration issue. Problems with the council. The thing about my dad was that whereas some people just went to work and clocked in and did the bare minimum, he was the type of guy that always took pride in doing the best he could. So day in and day out, he was fighting these battles for the people that couldn’t fight them for themselves. And I do mean fighting. He was all about causes. If he believed in something, whether it be just a principle or a specific issue, he would fight the problem to the bitter end. I remember just a few years ago when Harrow council tried to get £600 off of me for a bus lane infraction, even though it was their fault because they had been sending the letters to the wrong address. He hounded the council day and night, letter and emails, non stop, relentless, until eventually not only did they remove all the fees but also revoked the initial ticket. He loved it. Any kind of challenge or chance to right a wrong and he was all over it. I guess that’s one of the things I learnt from him; principles matter. Without them, victory is pointless.


 

We got a call from the surgeon that performed the operation about an hour and a half after we left the hospital saying that it had been a success and that my dad was resting comfortably. In my mind, always searching for reasons and a way to understand exactly what was going on and what was going to happen next, it all seemed to make a kind of sense. The body is a machine, they had sussed the problem and now he would start to make the recovery I had been hoping for. The haunting knowledge that things are rarely that simple was ever present but in the back of my mind was the belief that it would be okay. He was in hospital. Doctors were there. They had every conceivable bit of equipment in the world attached to him. It would be okay. Thinking back now, I think it was a bit like in Inception when he talks about how an idea takes root and without knowing it, this idea dominates your mind because in my mind, without realising it, was the idea; he won’t die. That was my truth; I couldn’t actually comprehend that he could actually die, so I suppose in the back of my mind I just always thought, however subconsciously, that it would all be okay.

We got up early the next day and went straight to see him. My mum wasn’t expecting much, but I was thinking it would make an instant difference. I peered through the glass as we waited to be admitted and could see his monitors, which showed stronger readings than the day before. It’s a funny thing trying to temper your expectations, because before you even know it, without meaning to, you begin to hope. Not wish like when you know deep down something is impossible. Hope. Even knowing the information and the reasons to not get carried away. Well, there it was, hope. When we got in there, he looked awful, which was saying something considering what he had looked like the night before. My mum held his hand and he opened his eyes and signalled that he wanted some water. He’d lost the ability to talk a few days before because he hadn’t been able to drink due to the dialysis so the first thing I did whenever I got there was to give him some water, which to me seemed like it was the highlight of his day. It’s funny the things we take for granted. He used to love nothing more than to just go to the fridge and just down a glass of milk or to have some ice cold water. Such small luxuries. Things that I could do right now. Things he had been able to enjoy his whole life. Now he was only allowed a litre of water a day, and that included liquid from food. Now that the dialysis was so serious in hospital, he was only having sips and was so constantly thirsty, it must have been akin to being tortured. The first day I got there, I bought some refrigerated water from the hospital cafe and poured him a glass of it, and I swear you have never seen someone savour a glass of water so much. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever appreciated anything that much. I think about that moment everytime I have a glass of water now.

Once my mum had helped him sip some water, he managed to speak. He looked up at her and said something that I know broke my mum’s heart and made me realise the true depths of his despair.

‘I want to die.’

Every syllable was a struggle to get out, and rationally, I knew that he was bound to be feeling awful because he had just had surgery, not to mention the anaesthetic which still probably had him feeling groggy. But still, what do you say to that? How do you offer hope when someone has lost theirs? We had a meeting with the doctor overseeing him, who told us that things had gone well and they had seen an improvement, but that it was too early to know exactly what was going to happen. The basic message was that he was a bit better but that we wouldn’t know for a little while if it was going to be enough.

Throughout the day, my dad perked up a bit. More blood to the brain and now free of the anaesthesia had him much more alert. I explained what had happened the night before which he had no memory of and he was fully with it. For the first time in a days I could see him really taking things in again. He knew the situation was bad of course. Whilst telling him what the doctors had told me, obviously playing up the positive aspects to try to raise his spirits he looked at us both and said;

‘Hard to see how this will turn out okay.’

But like I said, there was hope. That most precious of things. Over the next few days, his condition improved steadily. His blood pressure was stronger and required less medication, his infection was reduced and the drugs seemed to be doing their thing, and the doctors told us that he was generally doing better. He was also a lot more with it. He still couldn’t talk, but I was back to telling him about the politics and the Tour De France. We were even having some jokes together. He laughed when I told him how my brother was flapping around in England trying to get his passport sorted. We chuckled together about how he had looked better and how I was better at giving him water than my mum. He rolled his eyes every time I asked him an open question and for just a few minutes each day, we were just us again. Me and my dad. I couldn’t help but feel positive despite all the gnawing fears, each conversation like some water for the hope that was now growing inside me. When I saw him in the morning a few days later, he seemed so much better. He spoke, albeit croaky and with difficulty due to his throat being so dry, and it was the most I’d heard him talk in over a week. He was on Morphine, so what he said was gibberish, something about the nurses knowing he wasn’t a woman, but he just seemed so much better physically. Stronger. He had more colour and was as alert as I’d seen him. His only complaint was some pain in his stomach, but other than that the nurses assured us that everything was moving in the right direction. We joked a bit more and I gave him some water and told him I loved him.

When we left the hospital, we were both feeling so much more optimistic. I kept saying that we shouldn’t get carried away, but even the doctors were saying that we might be able to go home the next day and just do our once a day visit instead as he was clearly out of the immediate danger phase. My mum was talking about when we got him home and that maybe we would all have a christmas together after all up at my grandad’s house, and I suppose the idea that had formed in my mind was constantly touching my conscious and reminding me; he can’t actually die. We went and got a pizza and then stayed up playing scrabble together, which was nice, as it was a change in our routine. All in all it was the best day I’d had in a while, which seems strange to say. I got back to my room and played on my phone, did an exercise circuit and spent hours messaging people on WhatsApp; basically I did normal things, because in the back of my mind I began to hope that things were going to go back to normal soon.

I don’t really believe in fate, but for some reason, once I was in bed with my eyes closed, I decided to pick up my phone again and just look at random stuff. Almost as soon as I did my phone started going off and my mum’s number flashed up. I felt like someone squeezed my heart and my stomach instantly tightened, because I knew there was only one reason she would be calling me.

‘Hello?’

‘The doctor just called me. I think dad is going.’

Her voice was shaky and she was obviously crying. She said I didn’t have to come if I didn’t want to. She was so brave, I don’t know how she held herself together. I said to give me a few minutes and we hung up. I stood there in my room in complete shock. For a minute I didn’t really move, I just stood there staring blankly at the wall. I drove us to the hospital carpark and we made the familiar trek to the hospital room. I thought back to when we had come the day they told us that he was in trouble and that he needed the operation and how I had been so scared and how even though I had known we might be going there to watch him die, I hadn’t really believed it could happen. That idea in the back of my mind had kept that from really seeming like something that could actually happen. But now all of that was gone. He was going to die. I’ve never known anything so desolate as the complete absence of hope I felt in those moments. To know someone is alive and that soon they won’t be and that there is nothing that can be done is such a strange feeling. Even trying to get my head around it seemed impossible; just the idea seemed impossible. How could he not be here anymore?

The normal entrance was closed and we ended up getting lost in the endless empty corridors. I was running around like a nutcase trying to find the way to go until we eventually found a nurse to show us the way. I can’t remember much else about how we got there. I’m sure we were talking about things but all I can remember is the horrible feeling in my stomach and a vacant feeling in my mind like my brain was shutting down to protect me from the horrendous realisations I was probably still to make. As we waited to be admitted into the intensive care unit, I looked through he glass as I did everyday and looked at his readings. Still so strong. It didn’t make sense. How can someone have healthy readings but be about to die? We went through and went straight to his side. He was asleep but opened his eyes briefly and looked at my mum. His breathing sounded awful, and all of a sudden it was all just too much for me. I knew I needed to be strong for my mum but I think it hit me in that moment. This was the last time I was going to see my dad alive.


 

When I think about my dad, one of the first things that comes to mind besides politics, is music. That man loved him some music. He couldn’t play anything, which is why I think he was so supportive of me playing the guitar. He always said that he wished he learnt to play the piano, but not knowing how to play never stopped him from appreciating a quality musician. It’s funny, growing up I used to always hear my mum and dad playing classical music or opera. I remember at the time thinking that it was awful! I still have some of my oldest friends who when they talk about things they remember about my dad, reference him listening to classical music. That was just one of his ‘things’ I suppose. But nowadays, my perception of his music tastes has changed. I know he still loved classical stuff and loved a good opera, but if I think about him now, I imagine him listening to some blues or some rock music. I’m smiling now at the image I have of him; cooking in the kitchen with his little radio tuned into this blues channel he loved. I used to walk through the house into the front room in their house in France and I’d just hear my dad singing along to some old classic on Magic FM or tapping away to the rhythm of a guitar solo. He always had to have music on, no matter what he was doing. I think I inherited that from him. My mum is happy to just sit it silence, whereas my dad and I always loved to have some background music. We used to spend hours together sitting at the computer showing each other music on YouTube. I would show him a live performance by The Eagles, or a collaboration between Michael Bolton (who he would always refer to as Michael Notlob lol) and Ray Charles singing ‘Georgia’, and he’d play me some guitar solo he’d heard on the radio. Even as a grown man, I used to be so happy if I could find something that he really liked. He just loved music, and I think the fact that we both loved the same kinds of stuff, when it came to rock anyway, meant that we could bond over it, especially seeing as my mum was sick and tired of listening to guitar solo after guitar solo! Dire Straits, Gary Moore, ZZ Top, Queen, I can’t hear them without being transported back to sitting in the back of the car whilst going on some long journey with my parents. I don’t think I realised how much those moments meant to me until now.


 

By the time the doctor took us into a room to explain what was going  on, I was barely functioning. I sat there as she spoke in French to my mum and was barely even conscious for the conversation, despite understanding most of it. She told us that the blood flow just wasn’t enough and that his digestive system had basically shut down and that now it was only a matter of time. Sans espoir. No hope. I heard her say those words and felt any lingering hope die a sudden and final death. He just wasn’t strong enough to fight off all the things that were wrong. We went through the motions and asked the questions and listened and cried and all the while I just felt like everything had crumbled around me. I just sat there and felt crushed by the weight of what was about to happen. They told us they could give him more adrenaline that would keep him alive for longer, but that he wouldn’t be comfortable, or that we could keep him comfortable and turn off the machines and let him go. Let him go. I knew before hearing her say it that my mum wouldn’t want to put him through anything. All she cared about was him. We agreed to turn the machines off even though in my heart I just wanted to scream and shout that there had to be something they could do.

I went back into his room and kissed his forehead, not really knowing what to say. They told us that the process would mean that his vitals would slowly drop and that his heart would eventually just give out. I was so confused and sad and I didn’t know what to do. How do you say goodbye to the man that raised you? To the man that has always been there to guide you. To stand by you. To pick you up and tell you that no matter what, you can do it. I feel sorry for people that have never known that, but I also envy them for not having that empty hole where that love used to be. To have someone believe in you so completely is something I will always miss. Always. And to be standing there with him and know that whatever I said next might the last thing I ever say to him, I just couldn’t find the words. I had assumed that he would be in a coma, I mean you always hear people say things like ‘he just drifted away’ or ‘he went peacefully’ but he was wide awake, just unable to talk. He gave me a wink, which I swear simultaneously broke my heart and yet game me such comfort I can’t put words to it. Like I said, it’s hard to know what to say. Saying goodbye would be basically telling him he was going to die. But then not saying it would probably haunt me forever. In the end I was sure he knew what was going on. Just thinking about that fact alone makes me feel feelings I can’t really articulate. Knowing he was about to die. Was he scared? What would he say if he was able to talk? My brain had pretty much melted by this point. I told him that I loved him and that he was the best dad in the world and that I would look after my mum and that I would make him proud. I told him that I couldn’t have asked for a better dad and that everything that was good in me came from him and my mum. I phoned my brother and put him on loudspeaker and he told my dad that he loved him and that he knew he hadn’t been a perfect son but that  he had always tried to look after me. As my brother was talking, my dad smiled so much. Even with all that was happening to him, he smiled. Such a big smile. I think he had wanted to hear my brother say that for a long time and to me it seemed like he was at peace after that.

We stayed with him until the very end. In the end it took a few hours and he was awake until the very end. He stayed with us for as long as he could and even at the very end he looked at me as I kissed him goodbye. My mum was so brave the whole time. I think about some of the things I’ve done in my life and some of the danger I’ve faced and it all pales in comparison to what I saw that woman do that night. She stroked his hair, held his hand and even found a way to joke with him. Her eyes watered but she didn’t break down, she didn’t cry and wail, she simply stood there with him and comforted him. She did what she had always done, she stood by the man she loved. I’ve never seen bravery like it.

He died around half three in the morning and I’ve never known pain so deep. Those few hours were the hardest moments of my life and I don’t know how to begin moving past the sadness of what happened in that room, except to know that people do somehow. I gave him a kiss on the head and an eskimo kiss like he used to do to me when I was little. My mum broke down in tears and we hugged for what seemed like forever. She gave him a kiss  and whispered some stuff in his ear. I couldn’t make it out except to hear her say;

‘No more pain.’

Even in the midst of the deepest grief she will hopefully ever feel, her thoughts were only for him and his well being. I don’t know how I’ll ever have that kind of strength.


 

I think the hardest part about my dad dying is not being able to talk to him. I wish with all heart that I could have just one more conversation with him. My mum keeps reassuring me that he knew how much I loved him, but I wish I could talk to him one more time just to tell him again. I want to tell him how proud I was that he was my dad. I want to tell him that the fact that he believed in me meant that I believed in myself. I want to tell him how lost I feel without him, but that I’ll find my way again. I want him to know that I’ll look after his wife and that she’ll never be alone. I want him to know that I will make him proud and that his belief in me will ensure that I won’t fail and that I’ll never give up on my dreams and the things he wanted for me. I want to tell him that I’ll be okay. We’ll be okay. We’ll miss him everyday, but we’ll be okay. We’ll find a way to be happy again even if that seems impossible right now, because that’s what people do, and then we’ll laugh about him. We’ll laugh about his ridiculously oversized sunglasses and the way he would say dinner would be ready for seven and then not serve it until 9. We’ll miss his amazing cooking and reminisce about the dishes he knocked up or how he loved his bbq in the garden or how even though it was inconvenient, he always made me mash potato when everyone else was having roasts. We’ll miss playing bridge with him or watching sport. We’ll smile at how his wardrobe looked like a rainbow and how even when he wasn’t very well, he still wanted to have nice clothes and look good. We’ll chuckle at how he loved gadgets but could rarely work them or how he used to phone me up asking about how to download this or that and why iTunes wasn’t working properly when in reality he had pressed the wrong button.

All these things will come. But right now I guess I’m just sad. I’ve lost my Dad and I still can’t quite believe it’s real. It kinda feels like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from. That stupid idea is still somehow in the back of my head. He can’t actually be gone. But he is. So I’m left with an aching sadness and simmering anger that taints everything else, that I think would make me completely useless right now if not for one thought;

He loved me.

Such a simple thing. But it means everything to me. To have been loved that completely, even when I know sometimes I didn’t deserve it, feels me with hope. It’s funny really, when he died the hope was eradicated and yet in its place is something else. Maybe something stronger, because the new hope is for what I can achieve in the future because if that man, that clever, fiercely loyal and devoted man, could believe in me that much and love me that much, then how can I not succeed. Knowing that he loved me that much now means I refuse to give in and refuse to not achieve all the things he wanted for me. I know I will do the things he believed I was capable of simply by virtue of the fact that he believed it. So that’s it I guess. My dad died and my heart is broken because of it, but the legacy he left me is that his love has made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. I’m ready to face the next chapter of my life now and I know that somehow he’s going to be with me every step of the way, because the conviction he had is inside me now. That love, that unconditional and unequivocal belief in my ability, is now so strong in me that I begin to understand what my mum said to me a while back just after he died. I don’t need to tell him those things. He already knew.

I love you dad.x

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