It’s taken me a long time to write this. In fact it’s taken me seven months. It’s just over seven months since you died, and it still hurts, a lot. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that night. Sometimes it feels like the events just play on repeat, all that sadness, hurt, and guilt all combined. God Dad, there’s so much guilt.
I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but by God I do. From what the doctors can work out you had the stroke at about 11pm on Monday the 31st of October. It eats me alive to know that whilst I was partying, having fun, and celebrating Halloween, you were dying. Did you know that my biggest fear at Uni was that you’d die whilst I wasn’t there? That you’d be found a few days later and you would have died alone, with no one around you, that no one would notice. That was my biggest fear.
Is it selfish that I’m glad your carer found you that morning? I’ve never been so glad that you actually gave in and got a carer. When she found you she had to do CPR. I know enough to know that if you have to do CPR you’re pretty much dead, the fact that it worked and you stayed alive means you were still partly alive, but barely.
I didn’t find out until that evening. In fact, I was in class. Mum rang, she left me a voicemail. I knew something was wrong straight away, I knew it straight away. My first thought was that it was you, that you had died, especially when I texted her and she replied. You know Mum, she never replies. I remember listening to the voicemail, Mum telling me you’d had another stroke, that you were in ICU, her voice cracking. I felt my heart drop out of my stomach, the tears that I couldn’t stop, barely managing to choke out the details to my best friend, her taking me out of class and explaining to the lecturer. I knew straight away that you were never going to make it out of that hospital alive. I remember packing and getting on the first train I could manage.
You know I managed to almost keep it together? I did really well the whole way home, I shut it out, shut it off. That only lasted until I saw Fabian, my little brother (even if he’s not so little any more). God Dad, I broke down as soon as I hugged him, we both did. He’s my brother, I’m supposed to protect him from this, but right then there was nothing I could do, he’s a smart kid, he knew the same as I did, he knew it was bad. And so we cried, together, because honestly, no one is gonna get it in the same way we get it. You were our Dad. Our Dad. And so we know what it’s like. Maybe other people might. But no one else had you as their Dad, so it’s only us that can understand each other that way.
We went to see you together. We’d been filled in on the way there. You’d been brought in a bad way. You’d stopped breathing twice, and they’d managed to resuscitate you both times. I cried some more I think. I don’t know anymore. The next clear point is the next day. We’d been called in to the hospital to talk to the consultant, Fabian was at school. We spent visiting hours with you, all of us, Mum, Uncle Richard, Jason, Grandad, alternating sitting with you. We were only allowed two at the bed side at once. After visiting time we sat in the visitor room and waited. God we waited for hours.
Eventually the consultant came in. They told us that you’d had another stroke. That it was as severe as the last one. That this time, no matter what they did, you’d never wake up. Although I’d been expecting that, actually hearing it almost killed me. God Dad, there were so many tears, me, Grandad, Uncle Richard, everyone there to be honest. Fuck we cried. Expecting it and hearing it were to different things. You weren’t coming out of this hospital alive. We could say goodbye, and then they were gonna remove your ventilator and essentially let you die. If you died before then they weren’t gonna resuscitate you.
We called everyone, let them say goodbye. Then the ventilators were removed. You know what? I fucking wish euthanasia was legal. We knew you weren’t gonna live, there wasn’t enough of your working brain left for that, instead we had to listen to your body fighting to stay alive, even though the battle was long gone. That’s not a sound I’ll ever forget Dad, even if I wish I could. As far as I’m concerned I wish they could have let us say goodbye and then just given you a little bit extra in the drugs, let you slip on peacefully and quickly. Fuck, I wish they could have given you that. Instead your stubborn arse decided it was gonna fight a losing battle. You always were stubborn weren’t you?
You died in the early morning on the Thursday. The next few days were a blur. We planned your funeral, found the songs (you know, I can’t listen to U2 now), god it hurt. You know the moment that nearly killed me? It was the funeral. It was watching Fabian carrying you into the crematorium. He was 16! 16 Dad! And he was carrying into the crematorium. He shouldn’t have had to do that. 16 Dad, 16. And he’s already dealt with shit that some 40, 50, year olds haven’t. God, I’ve never been so proud of him, or wanted to protect him so much in that moment. He’s my little brother. I should be able to protect him. But I couldn’t and he carried you in there like a man. You would have been so fucking proud of him. I know I am.
Everyone told me I was so strong, but I don’t feel strong. I just pushed it away to deal with another day. This is me beginning to come to terms with this. It’s my first birthday, and my first Father’s Day without you, and honestly, it fucking hurts. Barely a day goes by when I don’t think of you, about what happened. I hope to God that you’re proud of me. I want you to be proud of me. I wish you could be here. I wish you could be here for my Masters graduation. I wish you could see Fabian get into Uni. I wish you could see him graduate. I wish you could see me get married. I wish you could meet your grandchildren. I will think of you, always.
I love you Dad,