TRIGGER WARNING: Themes of death, grief, and emotional turmoil
The 2nd of May 2014 started like any other day. I got up, got Feena ready. Went to spend some time with neighbours. They were taking Feena out. We were watching TV in the meantime. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I needed to grab something from my house, so I nipped home.
The phone was ringing.
Cut to half an hour later. Gone was that relaxed happy mood.
“Look. Who’s come to see you?”
The woman was kind, but I didn’t care.
The voice was hoarse, almost a little delirious, and very quiet, unlike the bubbly voice I’d heard a week before.
The woman came and spoke to me quietly.
“Is it time?”
“It probably is.”
“I want to stick two fingers up to that comment.”
“I understand, and I’m so so sorry.“
So I sit there, I talk. I ring my Mum and beg her to hurry because I don’t want her to get here too late and I just. can’t. do. this.
She arrives. We chat. To him. To each other.
The begging. I’ll never forget it.
A strong man. A karate disciple. A badminton lover. A pool player. A mathematician. An engineer. A joker. A scholar.
Begging for it to stop.
Delirious. Mostly unconscious. The morphine doing its job.
My Mum stood to his right. Me sat to his left. Holding his hands.
Mum talking to one of my half-sisters.
Me watching him breathe.
In. Out. In. Out.
She doesn’t hear me. I spoke too quietly. I’m sorry Mum. I’ll always be sorry.
In. Out. In…..
I’m watching. I can’t stop. I can’t look away.
I sit. I wait. His head turns slightly.
Mum tries to talk to him.
I have to tell her. There’s no more in.
Dad and I fishing, May 2011
It’s been over 6 years since that day and I can’t forget it. Even now, little things make me remember and trigger negative emotions.
I find something with his handwriting.
I see one of his shirts.
I complete more education.
I remember that one time he decided to do the first aid on me after I relapsed. (No, Dad, a sanitary pad sticky side DOWN is NOT the same as a bandage!)
Even writing this, I’m sitting and struggling but god I just want to help people. To let them know they aren’t alone.
People deal with grief in different ways. Some block it out. Some just try to get on with life. Others cannot let go.
For me, I’m stuck with memory after memory. Some good. Some bad. Dreams and memories alike.
I’ll be honest, I cannot help people through their grief.
Why write this?!
Every person is different. What works for one person will not work for another.
For me, I need time to process and think. To remember. To cry.
I’m lucky that I can discuss things.
Mum and I often discuss him, the good and the bad. All too often people seem to put their deceased on a pedestal. They did no wrong.
He was a highly intelligent man.
He was also an arse.
We keep things real, because that’s how it should be.
We sit, and we feel sad. But we also make light. The running joke is, with how much Mum has now entered the 21st Century with her tech that previously she wasnt to have, there’s most likely some kind of centrifugal force going on right now. Forget turning, think high-velocity spinning.
We allow each other our thoughts, emotions, and memories.
I also have the sheer luck that I can discuss him with Ash. While we have officially been together since 2018, we originally met in 2007. During this time, he stayed at my parents’ home once. Meaning he met, and vaguely remembers, my father. That makes it easier to discuss.
It’s a difficult balance. To move on you need to both push past the negativity, but also allow yourself you feel it.
It’s normal for good occasions to be tinged with sadness. For happiness and celebration to be met with “I wish Dad was here to see this.” And that’s okay.
Oddly enough, this occurrence didn’t lead to any thoughts or temptations or self harm. Other things in the following period did, but not this with Dad.
I won’t stop living, though.
Dealing with grief doesn’t end after a finite amount of time.
I’m still dealing with it.
The old saying is that it gets easier with time.
I respectfully disagree.
It’s not that it’s easier. It’s that I’ve gotten used to the pain.
One Last Piece of Advice From My Dad
I will miss my Dad for the rest of my life, but he always gave me one piece of advice that will always stick with me.
This too shall pass.
Whenever things were going to crap, he would say it. It’s true. Everything passes. Even his emphysema. Nothing lasts forever.
Dad, I promise you, I will not forget you. The good and the bad. I have kept going, kept climbing.
I’ve surpassed you in educational achievements.
Feena is at school.
I have my own business now. I remember when I used to write poems as a kid. You took my poem “Waking Up” to work, typed it up, and printed it out for me. I now get paid to write.
Mum is growing in leaps and bounds. The woman who, once upon a time, couldn’t find the giant “On” button on a computer tower can now work a Smart TV, iPhone, and tablet.
We will keep living, loving, and growing. Physically, you are now part of our past, but it helps to know you will always live on, with us, in our memories and hearts.
This post is deliberately unstructured. It’s a mish-mash of thoughts and feelings. Raw and unedited. I wanted to give you my thoughts and emotions without any filters or the flaws removed.
Dad and I when I moved into halls at DMU in 2009
In loving memory of Laurie Armstrong
25th April 1941 – 2nd May 2014
Until we meet again.