20 March 2002, 16h20pm – I walk into my parents’ bedroom and notice that my father is distressed. For some reason he is trying to move over from his side of the bed to my mother’s. I thought that was very strange and felt the need to sit by him. He couldn’t communicate. Lung cancer had filled his body with pain and transformed a once healthy, vibrant man into a skeleton. Trying to settle him was hard but eventually he positioned himself onto my mother’s pillow and lay still. I sat holding his hand and noticed that his breathing was becoming faster and erratic. I call out “daddy” and get a soft squeeze in response.
16h45pm – I am sitting on my mother’s bed amidst utter chaos. I am fully alert, paralysed, devoid of emotion, holding my dead father’s hand. There are people screaming around me, I hear my mother sobbing, my cousin crying in a corner and then everyone backing away as my brother walked in, silent. He closed my father’s eyes and broke down clutching this man who has given us life. He died at the age of 46, leaving behind a wife and two children and a granddaughter who he adored more than life itself.
Tears in Heaven
Having someone you love die in front of you – no matter how “prepared” you may be – is something that can never be forgotten. Heart break is no cliché. I suffered a physical pain in my chest for months after my father died. Our life changed dramatically. Dreams were broken. My mother lost her soul mate, I lost the one man I could depend on, who became a father figure to my child, the pillar of strength in our home….the life and soul of any party…and while the happiness seemed to have escaped from our lives on that day, I knew that life had to go on somehow.
Death is like taxes – you can’t escape it. Any single person in this world will experience a loss of major proportions at some point in their lives – some worse than others. A parent having to bury a child is something indescribable for instance. The only guarantee we have is this moment. We get the chain e-mails explaining how to live a full life – we hear inspirational stories about people who have overcome insurmountable odds to achieve their goals but nothing will ever hit close to home until you are faced with mortality and then time becomes relative.
My father lived his life in excess. Excessive love, excessive good times, excessive smoking (which ultimately killed him) BUT the moral of the story is, THAT is exactly how we should live our lives. Live like there is no tomorrow, love like you’ve never been hurt and let go of any baggage, anger, resentment or jealousy you may have for anyone. Tomorrow may never come, and today is what counts.
This post is dedicated to YT. I am finally becoming what I should have been 10 years ago and it’s because of you dad.