In April of this year I lost my dad to Pancreatic Cancer. He was admitted to hospital after displaying some concerning symptoms. By the end of the week the doctors had a diagnosis for him.
I'll never forget dad telling me how his Doctor pointed over to a Board Room in the Hospital and asked him to step in there for a chat. Dad's response was 'Uh oh.' I laughed when he told me this. He handled it well. Dad sat down and was informed then and there that he had Pancreatic Cancer. It was too late to do anything as it had already spread to other organs such as the liver. They gave him 3-12 months.
Dad and I have had a difficult relationship to say the least. He left mum for another woman when I was 12. I'll never forget mum crying one night and yelling at him. She was in a desperate state. The next day dad ushered me into my parents room and explained what was going on as he packed his old fashioned hankies from the top drawer and clothes into bags and I sat on their bed listening, not knowing what to say.
The truth was a big part of me was happy that he was going. He was a difficult man with a bad temper. He and mum would often fight. He'd yell at us kids a lot, and more often than not we felt (mum included) as though we had to walk on eggshells around him.
He left and life became very hard. Mum was to raise four kids now on her own while dad took off to start a new life. And she was to get back into the workforce after being a stay at home mum for fifteen years.
Fast forward twenty or so years and we didn't see much of dad between the arguments and long periods of not speaking. When I became a parent myself a lot of anger towards dad bubbled to the surface and I'd lash out at him at times. I was so angry with him and even hated him. At one stage, just like my brothers I decided that he wasn't even necessary to have in my life. I know that this hurt dad deeply.
There were times I offered forgiveness and tried to mend our strained relationship, but it was hard. He was after all still a difficult person, and now I had my own life as an adult and parent to deal with. However in the last few years we took to writing emails to one another. Through this we managed to form a bond that may have not been allowed via any other way. We both loved to write, so it was very easy for us. We'd still argue (via email) however we also connected on a very deep level. I realised more and more just how alike we were. My hatred dwindled and diminished, then re alighted love and understanding.
I could foresee that some day in a few years time we'd finally become the father and daughter I'd always longed for us to be. And I can see now that this was very much due to my own maturity. But that just wasn't to be.
He passed away within two weeks of his diagnosis. I think that he accepted it almost instantly, and even told me that he wasn't unhappy about dying. He'd suffered all these years living without us. The guilt and torment had very well killed him.
Having been given 3-12 months to live dad estimated that he may have 6 months left. He said that we could use this time to really finally understand one another. I counted on it. I had no idea that he'd be gone so quickly.
I'd like to write about this journey I'm now taking in accepting dad's death. So far it has been extremely hard and overwhelms my every day. When I wake up he is the first thing on my mind, all through the day I think of him and I'd say he is usually the last thought I have too. I've been a mess, but I'm hopeful.
I'm writing this not only to comfort myself through this dark time, but to also offer comfort to anyone else who is experiencing loss. The people who have really got me through this have been people who have also lost their fathers or loved ones in general, and so I've realised just how important it is that we share our stories. It's a matter of survival.