Back in October of 2004, I experienced the most heart-breaking day of my life. My beloved father lost his battle with cancer and sadly passed away. 13 years on and the pain is still very real, but we somehow learn to control the heartache and anger.
My father had been ill for some time, with symptoms that mimicked back issues. He was in and out of the doctors with diagnoses such as kidney stones or slipped discs. Now I in no way blame the NHS that this wasn’t picked up earlier, but my dad was eventually admitted to hospital as the pain had become unbearable for him. When I arrived at the hospital despite being laid up in pain he managed a smile and joked that he didn’t get the ‘ blues and two’s’ in the ambulance. See that’s the thing about my dad, he had ones of those smiles that just made you feel warm and calm. I think deep down he knew it was serious but put a brave face on for all of us. Us, this is me, my older brother, older sister and my little brother. My parents had divorced years earlier and my mother through her own choice decided that she wouldn’t have contact. This blog isn’t about her, so we will leave that there. A couple of days later I received a phone call to go to the hospital immediately. Now at the time I didn’t drive so was driven by my goddaughters mum, which in hindsight was a blessing as i was in no fit state to drive. The journey from Milton Keynes where I worked at the time to the Luton & Dunstable hospital felt like it was never ending. I just wanted to get to my dad!! I needed to get to my dad!! As I arrived, the rest of my family were already there. I knew instantly something was wrong. The moment I heard that word, that life changing ‘C’ word I ran to the toilet and was sick. Trying to absorb what I have just heard, I returned to my dad’s bedside. I looked into his eyes, those eyes that look like mine and I told him we would fight it together as a family.
The weeks after, my dad’s condition took a spiral downturn, it worsened by the day. The cancer had begun to spread and was slowly killing him and in turn a part of us. Life just seemed like a horrible nightmare that we were trapped in. My brother’s cared for him, as his body weakened. I have never really thanked them for that as I don’t think I could have done it without breaking down. My sister was frantically trying to bring forward what should have been her fairytale wedding day. I sat there one day and just looked at my dad, and I didn’t recognise him . This once active, positive, loving man, who had worked with some of the world’s leading professors on medical equipment had began to disappear. His eyes were saddened and withdrawn. I was given leave from my employment, so I had returned back home to grab every moment i could with him. We had the support of macmillian nurses in the day, and on this particular day they suggested we start having a full overnight nurse also. I think they knew he didn’t have long left. That night we all said ‘Goodnight to him’ not knowing this would be the last time we would ever hear him say it back. Most nights I cried myself to sleep, this night I suddenly sat bolt upright. I had to go downstairs to check on my dad. As I walked downstairs I had a weird feeling. The nurse heard me come down. She didn’t even have to say anything, I knew. I froze, she asked me what his wishes for resuscitation were. I couldn’t get the words out, I was 19 the biggest decisions I should have been making is ‘what outfit I was wearing at the weekend’. I knew that in my heart I wanted him back but my head said ‘No he has suffered enough already. The only thing I remember after that was ringing my sister but not being able to speak and waking up my brothers. I didn’t have the words to say, I couldn’t protect them from the pain. I actually felt like my heart had been crushed. We were now just us. Loved ones and soon to be family helped out when the pain was too raw for us to deal with details. They know who they are reading this. I don’t think you can ever really prepare yourself for something like this, and it’s a wound that will never fully heal. He never saw his sons or daughters marry, never met his first grandchild. What he left behind was two sons & two daughters, my siblings my everything. I don’t think they will ever understand the love I have for them, now and forever.
Running has become a coping mechanism, my release. I have used my pain to raise money to help others. So maybe there will be a cure one day.
I run for ……. My Wonderful Dad, who I miss dearly each and every day. I thank you for loving us like you did. Who do you run for?