December for me is the worst time of year, instead of celebrating with my family, I have to celebrate two anniversaries (8th December and 22nd December) of people who are no longer with us, my dad and my mum. To top it off my Dad’s birthday happens to be in this month too (18th December).
I try to stay happy around my loved ones and people often call me crazy, loud, friendly and talkative, but the struggle to put on a smile is overpowering due to my losses and I thought it was about time to give you all an insight.
So I could sit here in floods of tears around me all day, and although this blog probably will start them again, I will share with you a personal story that happened in 2010, Christmas time.
It was end- November and I was really looking forward to Christmas, I mean, although things were not the same and never going to be the same since my mum became an angel, my dad, brother and me were starting to get back on our feet. I really thought this Christmas would be the first one in years that we would be genuinely happy, even just a little bit.
So, of course we were planning what to get and what I would like for Christmas, but deep down I just wanted my family to be happy and most importantly, together.
I was the apple of my Dad’s eye and wherever he went you would normally see me by his side. We use to do everything together, he was my best friend and the only man that I will ever love eternally. This year was no different. We started to get a few festive treats in preparation for the calender change: advent calenders and mince pies were at the top of the list. We were arranging to go to the store at the weekend to start the Christmas shop.
I still had college at the time, so I was focusing on re-sits and coursework. So knowing that I had a weekend full of Christmas shopping with my dad was the only thing getting me through the week. Friday soon came and I rushed out of college as fast as I could to get home and see my Dad.
When I reached home, I was all ready to hit the shops, but my dad wasn’t fit enough to go. I mean I knew he was a little under the weather over the past few days, but it was more like a cold, so it didn’t worry me. Words that will haunt me for the rest of my life. He said “sorry” and said we would go next week, I was a little disappointed, but it was fine. I just got on with the task at hand: looking after my dad.
The weekend went by fast. It consisted of me looking after my dad and making sure I was with him 100%. Days turned to weeks and unfortunately he wasn’t getting any better. When I was at college all I could think about was him, but he wanted me to go and do well, so I listened to him. I couldn’t imagine my life without him as he has been my rock over the past four years.
My daily routine consisted of: going to college, coming home and looking after him. I did the best I could in order for him to get better, but it didn’t seem to be working and he slowly got more ill.
He ended up sleeping downstairs and living in one room as he was too weak to even climb the stairs. Even when he moved he had to be helped by me or my brother, and believe me he was heavy, so when I was there on my own it was literally like doing a full work-out. It was heartbreaking seeing my Dad like this, but I always wanted him to be safe and be at home with his children.
The end of the week approached and by this point things were not looking good. A doctor came round and for my dad, who hated the doctors, this was a big deal for him. At first he didn’t like it and he was scared, but he eventually allowed them to take an injection from his arm, although he was not happy about it. Daniel (my brother) and my Dad’s best friend, Bill, was only looking out for him and deep down he knew that. The doctor must have said something to Daniel and Bill as the next thing I get told is “Jo, your dad is seriously ill.”
My whole world was ripped apart.
I denied it and shook it off, I mean it’s MY DAD, he is a fighter, hard as nails, nothing can beat him. Christmas was soon coming and I imagined us all around the table, laughing and joking. I kept thinking ‘We will be happy and have a nice Christmas together.’ We was beginning to be strong again, I can’t loose my Dad aswell..
The weekend was a struggle to say the least. He started to get less responsive and was not talking or reacting to us when we did speak to him, it was very frightening. There was one night where he fell of the sofa and called me in the middle of the night to come downstairs and help him up. It was horrible to see a grown man so helpless. From then, I started to sleep on the floor downstairs with him as I didn’t want to leave him for one second. I wanted to make sure I was there for him whenever he needed me. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone for one second.
A new week of college came and I continued to go as I knew that was what he wanted me to do. I was worried sick all the time and really did not want to leave him. I came home from college on the Tuesday and things hadn’t change, they went worse.
Daniel told me that it was getting more serious. My dad still wasn’t eating or drinking properly. We had to hold bowls and cups for him to drink and eat out of. It was heart breaking to watch him. I spent the evenings watching television with him and keeping him company. I wasn’t really watching the TV, more starring at him, worrying about what the next few seconds held.
He startled my thoughts and too me by surprise and said “Jo…can I have an omlette?” I was amazed, I mean, it was a little slurred, but he was speaking! I knew he would get through this, I knew it! I jumped at the chance of making him food, in that moment I was full of hope and optimism. Now, looking back I know he did it as he wanted me to feel happy and hopeful, so his mission was achieved. He only took a few nibbles, but that made everything better, even just for that moment.
The evening became early morning and I couldn’t sleep at all. I decided to sit next to him on the sofa to keep him safe and also to keep us warm. Lucky, my dog, joined us as I tried to drift to sleep. I said to him I love you and said good night and he looked at me and attempted to smile. As I tried to drift asleep I felt safe and reassured knowing that he was still with me as I listened to his breathing.
When I woke it was around six. I was only asleep for around 45 minutes and at an instant I looked up at my Dad and I couldn’t hear any breathing. I panicked. I rushed to turn the light on and went over to him. I shouted “Dad, daddy. Wake up!! Dad, Dad.” No response. I shook him and looked up into his eyes.
I will never forget that moment no matter how hard I try.
The only thing in this world that made me happy and got me through all the bad times had gone. My bestfriend, my partner in crime. The person who I did everything with, who I spent most of my time with, who made me laugh and cry like no-one can and ever will had gone. I would never see or talk to him again. My future was uncertain and my world had fallen apart. I felt like my heart was ripped out of my stomach. Despite this, I am glad it was at home. He loved his house and his family and I know that is what he wanted and I respect his wishes.
The hours after that were draining. So many people in my living room with florescent jackets on, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t go in that room after that, but I know he was still in there sitting peacefully until around 11am. It was nice to know he was still in his home with his family. When he left the house it was heartbreaking, knowing that he will never return is just devastating. After that the whole house was cold and lifeless.
The weeks after that were unimaginable, even now. I was numb and lifeless. I hated everything and everyone and nothing anything could say or do would help. I didn’t know what to do, how to feel or even where to go. Felt so alone and so afraid, I had nobody. There was so much to do and I didn’t know where to start. In 24 hours I must have aged about 50 years with all the stress that I faced. I did have an enormous amount of support, don’t get me wrong, but I mean it wasn’t enough. Why did this happen to me? I mean first, my mum, and then my dad. I just want them both back.
I look back on the past three years as hell. I can’t describe it in any other words. I was a 17 year old, very outgoing and living life to the full and then I was getting my house taken of me, debts that I couldn’t pay as I had no money, college to get through, a dog to look after without no parental guidance. It has been a horror.
Over the past years there have been days I have spent in bed, crying until I go to sleep, not wanting to go out because I am full of worries and stress that will not go away. I never thought I would cope, and to be honest I am JUST getting by, but I mean when you are in this position you just HAVE to get on with it. Every day I wish I could wake up from this nightmare and just see my best friend again.
There are no words that can explain how much I wish you and how much I would like you, and mostly need you, by my side. The only thing that I am happy about is that you are reunited with Mummy, who I know you missed so much, and for that I am so grateful.
This has been a struggle to write and to relive mentally, but thank you for reading this.
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Extra thanks to everyone who has helped, as always it is very appreciated;
To Veronica and Mike, Pat and John, Marg and Tony and Helen for supporting me through this hard time and looking after me like a daughter.
To Bill, Charlotte, Emma, Nathan and the rest of the Hunter family for allowing me to stay with you and making me feel so welcomed.
To Michelle and your family, for being a lovely set of people and just making me feel loved every day, making me keep my faith.
To Daniel, for realizing that mum and dad wouldn’t want us to fight and making sure we have each other backs 100%.
To Matt and family, grateful and honoured to have met a group of people kind and genuine. Thanks for showing me that I do have a spark and that I can live my life to the fullest.
To all the other precious gems out there, thank you as well. Just being there when I need you for a cry, a hug or a pint.