I found out my Dad had Myeloma (a type of blood cancer) on 14th October. This just so happened to be the day after my wedding. He’d elaborately convinced the entire family to keep me in the dark to spare me the pain while planning a wedding. Ever since that day, my heart would sink every time the phone rang, especially after he went into intensive care with a collapsed lung and pneumonia. I wondered how my Mum would break the news to me. Would she tell my husband first? Would she ask me to come down urgently?
As it turned out, when my Dad died, I took the phone call.
Monday 17th December. The entire family was feeling celebratory. Just six weeks earlier, my Mum had called me to say that the intensive care Dr didn’t expect my Dad to last the night. He did, and he fought so hard to the point that he was given a date for his return home – Tuesday 18th December. We’d have him back for Christmas.
My husband and I were on the sofa watching the season finale of Dexter. We were in very high spirits and I’d been practically skipping about town earlier as I imagined eating Quality Street on Christmas Day with Dad while Mum swore at the oven. The phone rang about 10 minutes before the end of Dexter and Mike’s exact words were “I bet that’s your Mum! She’s interrupting Dexter!” (in jest, of course). He handed me the phone after answering, he shrugged to indicate he didn’t know who it was.
The woman on the end of the phone sounded terribly panicked. She said she was a nurse on the ward that my Dad was on, and she’d been trying to reach my Mum and Grandparents for almost an hour and she couldn’t get in touch with them. Before I had taken the breath to tell her Mum was at a late night work meeting, she blurted out that he’d collapsed while getting into bed and despite efforts to revive him, he’d passed away. My ears burned. My stomach twisted and moved upwards. I dropped the phone, causing my husband to pick it up and he verified the news himself. I heard an awful, strangled cry that broke into a scream of pain. It sounded so tortured. As Mike pulled me into his arms I realised I was making the sound. My Dad. My wonderful, strong, lovely and loving Dad. He was meant to be coming home, not going away forever.
His funeral is the 9th January and I expect I’ll write more about him then. I think I needed to write about the moments before, during and after I took the news. Never in a thousand years could I have imagined myself being the first in the family to hear those words. But I was. And I think until I just wrote it down, I was struggling with it a gargantuan amount.
Night night Dad, you’re still my hero.