Time to say goodbye

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Any florists or gardeners out there will not be as impressed of course. This little posy is made from the very few flowers currently growing in my garden.

It’s a symbolic little posy: I like symbolism.

The three red-pink roses are from a rambler that my Dad loved, growing on a fence that he and my uncle build 15 years ago. We placed some of these roses in my Dad’s coffin when he died 4 years and 2 days ago. The purple aquilegia – bright, cheerful and independent – sprout everywhere in my garden, self-seeded by the wind. I hated them at one point for their pesky weed-like determination to flower wherever they wanted. Dad loved them for the same reason. I do now, too.

The yellow iris is actually a water iris that has taken over 3/4 of my pond. My sister threatened to dig them out 5 years ago to my Dad’s protest. She never did and they’ve continued to take over ever since.

The little pink candy-puff flowers, as I call them, were planted by my dad. I think the plant originally came from my uncle, but I’m not sure. Either way, its fluffy cuteness made a welcome addition. Plus, there wasn’t much else I could put in.

The posy was wrapped in a wet piece of kitchen paper, then in foil and then a piece of chiffon ribbon. It went in my handbag.

Throughout the service, I kept checking it was ok..not too squashed as I delved in and out for my tissues. At one point, my son alerted to me to a small aphid crawling on my black cardigan, no doubt from this little bouquet.

At the end, as “Time to say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli played, tears ran down my face and sobs threatened to erupt into hyperventilation. It was one of my Dad’s favourite songs too and the words were scarily poignant for more than the obvious. I watched the sheer curtains close and the lights dim. As the people in front of me – family – moved out of the crematorium, I pulled out my little posy and stared at it as I blindly walked towards the coffin. Looking up, I asked the funeral director to place it on my uncle’s coffin and I left the building.

He was the last one, the last of my father’s generation.

He was probably my Dad’s best friend and definitely his closest sibling. My Dad respected and trusted him and looked up to him. My uncle visited my Dad on his dying bed, a fact I had forgotten until sat in that crematorium.

My uncle was the hardest working man I knew. He was generous, intelligent and strong. For reasons unexplainable here, I barely saw him in the last few years and I regret that. I have many, many memories of him from my childhood. Memories I will always treasure, like the rose bush he apparently treasured, which I had bought him 10 years ago for his 80th birthday.

Today, I felt like I said goodbye to him and my Dad. I don’t really remember much of my Dad’s funeral and I am the one who organised it. More than that, I feel like I have said goodbye to a whole swathe of life – of my life. There are no holds now, no anchors, nothing left.

I’m too sad today to even know how I feel about that.


Just like that

I awoke this morning to the sound of messenger: the sound of Wildcard calling me.

I answered with that nervous-excitment anticipation I always feel when he calls. To my surprise, he was up and heading towards his car – unusual for a Sunday where he gets his only lie-in.

“My friend had died.”

Someone had posted in a group chat of people he studied with. His friend was early thirties and I could see Wildcard struggling to comprehend the information. He was on his way to his friend’s house to see what was happening. In Islam, the dead are buried quickly and he didn’t want to miss it.

Half an hour, the sound of messenger roused me again.

“I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it.”

His friend had been driving with his parents and sister as passengers. A drunk driver had hit the car. His friend had died instantly. His mother had died this morning and his father and daughter were in hospital. Just like that, two lives lost and another two in the balance.

The story has lingered in my mind all day. My family have arrived, I’ve cooked and entertained, and yet my conscious self, the one with this knowledge has sat apart. Like an outer body experience, my mind has churned and processed whilst the rest of my has carried on.

Wildcard is waiting to attend the burial but the body of his friend remains in the hospital morgue at present.

Isn’t it strange how life can change, just like that?

Self preservation

This morning, I have some time with my children before I go to the hospital. I’m not good company. I’d told the older two that they were not going to spend the morning in bed as they have every other day this holiday, but they would get up and we would spend some time together.

I haven’t got them up. I can’t face them. Or, more accurately, I don’t think I can put on the face they should see. Not at this moment, anyway.

I’m sat in my favourite seat, looking out at the grey, drizzly April morning. Tom and Jerry and peanut butter toast are occupying my youngest.

My psyche’s way of dealing with this emotional roller-coaster is to set me to numb. Everything feels heavy. My body, mind, eyes. I feel like I haven’t slept, except I have. After initial mind racing, I fall into a deep sleep. But I’m not waking up refreshed.

On Thursday, we arrived to see Dad stood up near his hospital bed eating a tea cake. He was wild eyed and staring out of the window and when he saw us he became agitated. He believed that a great tragedy had befallen the family and it took some time for my sister and I to comfort him. (Hallucinations are a frequent part of Dad’s stays in hospital but this time the staff seem to have got on top of them quicker.)He then allowed us to wash and change him, and he said he felt quite good as we waited for his dinner to arrive.

The doctor then appeared and gave us some great news: they felt they were on top of the infection and he would only need to go on the ventilator at night. Dad remained alert whilst he ate all his dinner – for the first time in months – and then he started to go a little sleepy.

Within 30 minutes, Dad was pale and lethargic. With such good news, we at first thought that it was tiredness due to such a big meal and natural as he has been so ill. Quickly though, we felt things were not quite right: luckily at that moment the consultant arrived on his ward round. He tested his stats and immediately put him back on the ventilator. Dad’s oxygen was at 77. It should be early 90s.

The consultant has said he won’t give up just yet but that Dad’s lungs are severely damaged. We have to take it day by day. If he comes round this time, his lungs will not recover to previous levels. I keep asking the question and they seem reluctant to answer directly. Dad is at the end of his life but we don’t know how long he has got because they don’t know.

With each flare up, Dad’s lungs will not recover as well, but they can recover. The flare ups will come closer together, will take longer to pass until eventually they won’t recover. We don’t know where he is on this spectrum. He’s not at the beginning of this journey: this is the second hospital admission in six months. Where he was on the ventilator for one night last time, he has been on it for six days now, on and off.

Further information can be found in this article:


When Dad has just come off the ventilator, he seems almost well. He can speak without too much breathlessness. He can eat. But it is short lived.

This has created a sickening yo-yo of hope and despair. One moment, you think he has pulled through, the next you fear the worst.

I’m trying to accept that I don’t have much longer with my Dad. The tremendous hope and love I have for my Dad is preventing me from truly accepting it. Self-preservation takes over. The childish belief that it won’t happen to you or that it is so far in the future, there’s no point in worrying now.

There’s so much to fear from the future. Living in this house without the sounds of my Dad next door. Not being able to sit with him at night. No more stories about the past or advice for the future.

We’ve never spoken about his passing. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t know what songs, readings, where he wants his earthly remains to rest. With a fractured family like ours – two marriages and many divides – it’s a conversation that, obviously difficult in normal circumstances, will be even more difficult now. I wish I knew what he wants but I’m too scared to ask him now.

I don’t know what else to say.