About two weeks ago, I had the worst weekend. I listened to an old voice recording of my dad’s, and this wave of emotion just hit me. I eventually fell asleep but dreamt about him. I was a young child and we were solving quadratic equations, my dad had this blue book dedicated to parabolas and hyperbolas. I went to touch his face but I couldn’t reach him, then I just woke up at 4am. I had that blue book on my shelf (a happy memory from my time with him), and got out a pad and started going through the questions to see whether I could remember how to solve and create the graphs – it was like riding a bike, I remembered, dad would be so proud, I thought
On the Monday morning, I went downstairs and at reception were these beautiful pink flowers for me. Richard (the porter) whom I’ve known for around 8 years, bought them for me and in his card wrote ‘thinking of you at this difficult time’. My eyes lit up, I told him that work bought me pink flowers and they made me smile, so he did the same thing. He understood what I was going through as he lost his father a few years ago. He also sent flowers and a card to my mum, as he’s very fond of her. I never thought a man could be that kind and thoughtful. He’s been incredibly supportive, to most other people I usually say that I’m ok, but with him I can open up and show my emotions, for someone like me that’s rare. I admitted to him that the one person that helped me through the grief was my baby nephew, I love him soo much, and that’s when I realised that I’m ready to have my own. Yes, they’re expensive and a burden, but they are worth all the hardship, but now it’s a question of finding a decent guy to make them with. Richard described me as one of the nicest people he’s met, but that not many people would know unless I go out and socialise more. You’d be surprised to learn you have your share of male admirers that ask me about you, even my daughter thinks you’re beautiful – that made me smile, Rich is such a lovely guy.
Then one of my best friends (who started off as my old uni lab partner) cancelled his plans to travel back to see his family, so that he could see me. As soon as I saw him, he just opened out his arms and let me cry all over his shirt. Then he gave me a bag full of DVDs of old classic childhood movies and microwave popcorn, and assured me that it was a gift to keep my mind occupied, and that I don’t have to return them – a joke, because after I split with a guy in the past, he asked me to post his DVDs back to him first-class, this time I didn’t have to worry I never met any man I would trust my life with apart from him, we will never be anything more than just best friends (bloody typical!), as he’s gay, but if I could describe the perfect personality then that would be his – we can chat for hours, never argue, and he’s never said anything offensive – surely an impossible task for a man
Another good friend invited me to stay with him and his wife, and a client at work offered to fly me out to their holiday home. All really kind gestures, but I need time alone to come to terms with my loss.
I was lucky to have had the chance to spend more time with my dad when he retired, as he worked abroad when I was growing up. I would write letters to him every week, then he bought me a typewriter. We would speak every Sunday without fail. The past couple of years, he was able to call me everyday. I miss that. I remember years ago, there was a client at work that was in his thirties whose wife died of cancer, leaving behind a small toddler for him to bring up. He sent me an email as he was having trouble with a leak to his flat, the person who’s job it was to get it fixed wouldn’t return his calls, he asked if I could help chase on his behalf. Although, it wasn’t my job, I felt a sense of compassion, this man was all set to embark on a life with his wife and child and it had been cruelly taken away, he had a stressful job, so having persuaded an ex-colleague to drive me to his flat, I took photos and then contacted the managing agents to organise for them to repair the damage, I then went back around to inspect that it had been done properly. He was very appreciative. I thought of him the other day, I can’t imagine what he must have gone through.
A colleague of mine said that in losing my father, I should use it to re-evaluate my life, that the one failing I have is relationships. It doesn’t matter what watch or car you have, it’s all bull s***, what matters is that the people you love are with you at the end. People are more important than work, you need to switch off and open up more. He was right. The most priceless moment for me was the night before my dad passed away. I spent hours holding his hand, his eyes staring up straight at the ceiling, he couldn’t acknowledge me. I was extremely disappointed, as during those three weeks in intensive care, he was either heavily sedated (eyes closed) or eyes open but unaware of his surroundings. There were a few days which I missed when he was out of sedation and able to communicate through pen and paper, we kept his writings, first he wrote KFC (when I heard that it made me smile – sadly he wasn’t able to have one), then he wrote Pavg = VI cosφ, to prove he was mentally still there (he was a power engineer). As I got up to wash my hands and remove the apron, my brother was hovering over him and tried to stare directly into his eyes, by some miracle, he smiled at him and everyone was shouting to him Abi is here (they all think dad hung on in there to see me before he passed away), he turned around and smiled directly at me for a fraction of a second, then he was back to his original position staring at the ceiling. During that brief moment, I felt the pieces of my heart slowly beginning to mend.
Most people like talking about their emotions, but I find writing is cathartic, hence the long blog post. Based on getting older, life experiences, I’ve learnt something, I want to experience what my parents had, to love someone so much, that I’d want to be with them holding their hand until the end. It’s seems strange now that my dad has gone, I spent my life holding back on relationships because I was worried that he wouldn’t approve. I met someone a while ago and he ended up falling in love with me. I was cautious wanting to wait to see how things developed, but he didn’t want to be a secret, and gave me an ultimatum, either we get married or he walks away. He was offering me a good life where I didn’t have to work and I’d want for nothing, but at the time my dad was ill, I had to put him first above my own happiness, in the process I ended up upsetting a genuinely nice guy, and took a hiatus from wanting to be with anyone thereafter. Now, I am able to move on and focus on me. In 2014, I’ve made a list of things I want to achieve: violin lessons (I was very good at school, but my dad thought it interfered with my studies, so gave it up), charity work (helping others makes you feel good), joining activity groups to meet more nice people. The most important one is wanting a family, the next person I meet will be the father of my children (fingers crossed). I’m not sure whether I’ve met him yet, either way I can’t wait…
Death comes to all of us; I have an insatiable thirst for life, and don’t intend wasting a moment of it…
I always wanted to buy these images off the photographer, but never got around to it, finally did and soo glad as these are the last photos that were taken of dad & I together. That was one of the happiest days for him, he’ll never be at mine…
This date I will never forget. Finally, the long battle is over, and my dad has passed away. This morning we were awoken twice, we rushed to the hospital first time but he was stable when we got there, then a few hours later we were told to come back as this was it.
The doctor advised that we were prolonging the inevitable. With a heavy heart, we made the hard decision to switch off his life support, they gave him drugs so that he wouldn’t suffer. After they switched off the machine, he gasped for air a few times, then there was silence. I kept hold of his hand throughout, tears streaming down my face. Apparently hearing is the last sense you have, so I told him that I loved him, and he will always be in my heart.
I never loved anyone more than my dad. I won the lottery when I got him. Hard-working, kind, intelligent, determined, stubborn, principled – he was my hero. I will miss you calling me every night, something I took for granted.
One thing I am grateful for are the nurses that looked after my dad, they were exceptional. There was one point when I was very nervous, and Charlene took me by the hand and told me that I was beautiful and strong. Red eyes from all the crying and sleepless nights, she was very kind. She even shaved my dad as we knew that he was a stickler for being well-groomed.
It’s going to be tough without you, rest in peace. xxx
The news that anyone who has a loved one in intensive care dreads to hear. My mum called me early in the morning and calmly said that my dad wasn’t going to make it, the hospital told her late last night that he took a turn for the worse, and that there was nothing more they could do. His lungs can’t function without the support of the machine, and so they will administer morphine whilst they gradually turn it off.
I knew it was coming, but nothing really prepares you for it. Everyone dies right? I text my boss and he called me to say don’t worry about work, but a wave of emotion hit me and I started crying, my hands shaking. I just told him that I felt I let my father down, he’ll never see me get married, have children, that I’m such a selfish person. My boss reassured me that I was the least malicious person he knew, hard-working, and perhaps this will make me approach life differently, for the better.
My brother admitted that dad always loved me the most as his youngest daughter, that I shouldn’t waste time having regrets, but to take this as an opportunity to make him proud by fulfilling those ambitions he had for me. I found it tough having a strict father that had high expectations. I found dating difficult in case he didn’t approve, the strange thing was that my brother said in the end I don’t think it would have mattered whether they were Asian or not, but as long as they made me happy.
Death is imminent. He’s the only person who calls me Abida (everyone else it’s Abi). I’ll never hear his voice asking me whether I’ve eaten and how my day’s been. I guess I took it for granted. Pragmatically, I know it’s his time, and that he will no-longer suffer, he accomplished more in his lifetime than I could ever imagine. From a refugee during the partition to a scholarship to study in the UK, working his way up, encountering racism in the workplace, to being successful in his career. In the end, he was loved very much by friends and family, that’s all that matters. Goodbye, dad xxx