A week ago today – 15th April ’15 – my dad passed away.
It was a beautiful spring day, from his hospital bed overlooking Aberystwyth we could hear birds singing and lambs bleating, and see blossoms growing everywhere – he would have loved all of that.
He had been in the intensive care ward for over a month, he went in with severe double pneumonia but suffered a collapsed lung and sepsis infections along the way. For most of the month he’d been sedated and on a ventilator. We’d had real highs – we had several days where he was awake and was able to hear and see us, and hold our hands. We’d had real lows – I think 4 times we were called into the relatives room to be told that he was unlikely to make it through that night. But he kept on fighting.
The day he died, they told us that the sepsis (blood-poisoning infection) had gone too far – they was nothing more they could do, they would have to ‘withdraw treatment’. We didn’t argue – we knew they had tried every possible treatment during the last month to try and help him, including amputating his sepsis-ridden right foot. He had put up a good fight but now it was his time to go.
We spent many hours waiting to find out if his organs could be donated, they couldn’t but at least we tried – we knew he wanted that. Once we knew that, the doctor came in at 3pm and very business-like just confirmed what was about to happen and started to unplug everything that he was on. The only thing they left on was morphine, so he wouldn’t feel any pain.
We sat with him until he took his last breath at 4.30. We had a funny moment when we thought he’d gone and I was bawling and said ‘I don’t want to let him go!’ and he took another breath! We all laughed and what a lovely thought to think he might have heard us, even though he was essentially in a coma. I stroked his hair, and held his hand, and cried, for most of that hour and a half.
I never would have imagined wanting to be with someone when they died, but it was very peaceful and soothing, not scary at all and I think he would have liked to have been surrounded by his family.
After spending most of the day crying, the few hours after he passed I felt strangely calm and at peace. I managed to eat a chinese take-away despite not hardly eating the last few days and weeks! When we went to pick up the take-away, I saw my first sign from him – I passed a house window full of toys, and there were 2 little toys in there that we’d bought him when he was in hospital – that was lovely and spooky!
It’s been a heck of a week since then. My dad was a huge part of the community here in mid Wales so we’ve had endless visitors – including many grown men arriving in tears! Some of the visitors have been good therapy as they’ve come with funny stories/memories/anecdotes – many of which I’d not heard.
Other visitors have turned up and maybe stayed a bit too long – too many awkward silences! We’ve had about 300 cards, 30 cakes and so many flowers that we’ve had to buy more vases and have now started giving flowers away to friends!
I went to a local concert 2 nights after he died, with my auntie as they were giving my dad a tribute – it was lovely but maybe a bit too soon in hindsight- I cried through most of it!
I went back to Cardiff for the weekend to see my baby! I’ve only seen him for a few days here and there over the last month or so, I miss him but right now I feel more like a little girl wanting her dad, than a mum. I cried most of the way to Cardiff as it felt like I was leaving my dad. If his house, village and area were all-consuming about him, going home to Cardiff was the opposite- it felt surreal to not be surrounded by his death.
The day after he died, the local funeral director came to arrange the funeral – something I never thought I’d have to do. We’re holding it on Saturday, 10 days after he died, to give people enough time to make travel arrangements etc- the funeral director who knew him, says he expects 600-700 people will attend, thus showing the impact and reach of my dad is various communities from golf to Welsh literature to bee-keeping to male voice choir singing.
The upcoming funeral is daunting, but I am looking forward to the ‘celebration’ part of the day – I want to consume myself in stories and memories about him.
Over the last week I’ve strongly come to believe that he chose his time to go – he’d had a very full life with no regrets. He’d seen his daughters grow up. He’d become a tadcu (grand-dad) and as I know (and everyone keeps telling me!) he was so happy and proud to be a tadcu! He was young at heart, and never wanted to be old. He was so full of life that it would have been awful for him, and everyone to see him, limited in anyway. So I think he chose his time to go – on a high.
Despite that, it still feels like he went too soon – I am gutted that he won’t see baby W grow up and/or meet any other potential grand-children. But I have to keep remembering the happiness and joy he had from the 10 months that he had with him. We were lucky enough to be with him, on St David’s day weekend, just a day before he fell ill.
So I have tried to rationalise everything – it was his time to go, it was the right time, he’s in a better place and in no pain, he had a wonderful life and touched so many people with his warmth, kindness, patience and cheeky smile which will be a comfort.
But I still cry several times a day – I miss him so much and can’t believe I won’t see him again (on this planet!) Some people have told me that I will always feel like this. Other people have said that time will heal. Someone said ‘it doesn’t get easier, but you get better at dealing with it’.
I will always love you dad, I’m so proud of you – of everything you achieved and the exceptional person you were – truly one in a million. I know you were so proud of me (and my mum/sis/baby W), I will miss your sunday evening phone calls, I will miss you sending me press cuttings about my line of work, or baby stuff, or anything! I will miss you so much, thanks for being the best dad and tadcu ever, caru ti dad x x x x x x x x