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Thursday, 26 March 2015

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die" [Thomas Campbell]

The beautiful funeral flowers I chose with my sister

You may be wondering why my blog has gone strangely silent over the last month or so. Where have I been? Why haven't I been writing my usual regular posts? Well...

On Sunday 1st March my amazing Daddy passed away. His death was sudden and completely unexpected and I miss him so much already.

Just 12 hours before his death we received the shocking news that he had kidney cancer which was at a very advanced stage. We all found this impossible to believe. How could my happy, healthy, active Dad have cancer? He never had any health issues, drank only a few glasses of wine each week and did not smoke. He wasn't overweight, he ate well and played tennis regularly. He had just been on an incredible holiday to India with my Mumma over Christmas where they achieved a long held dream to visit the birthplace of my Dad's mother.

My parents visiting the Taj Mahal, India on Christmas Day 2014

Frighteningly, he didn't exhibit any symptoms whatsoever until the week or so before he died when he felt more tired than usual and was breathless climbing the stairs at home. 

On that awful Sunday the cancer caused a fatal blood clot in his lungs (a pulmonary embolism). My Mumma was with him in the hospital when it happened sharing precious last moments together. As soon as we got the call from my Mum, my sister and I, and other family members, immediately rushed to the hospital but when we arrived my Dad had already lost consciousness and the doctors were unable to resuscitate him. 

We all gathered together in the tiny hospital relatives room crying with utter disbelief that this could be happening. There are no words to describe how it felt to be in that room for the longest hour of our lives, praying the doctors could save him then receiving the soul crushing news that he was gone. We were all completely devastated and shocked and together we wept at the unfairness of it all, struggling to take it in, not knowing what to say or how to behave.

The weeks that followed this tragic and awful day have been incredibly emotional, intense and exhausting as we all try to adjust to a world without my Dad. He was my Mother's soulmate, best friend and life-long companion. They found so much joy in each other and had the happiest of marriages. He was adored and cherished by all his children and so loved and valued by his many friends and extended family. At work he was admired, respected and successful. 

My Dad, Matthew, was the greatest man I have ever known.  I am so blessed to have had his guidance and wisdom as I've grown into the woman I am today and I know I'm a better person for being raised by such an incredible father. He was my rock, my trusted advisor, my friend, my inspiration, my wonderful Daddy. I feel so very lucky to have had him in my life.

With my Dad at our American wedding party in Dayton, Ohio, November 2013

From a young age I have been terrified of losing my parents. I don't know where this fear came from but I remember crying when I was little after having nightmares that my parents died. I clearly remember my Dad comforting me and helping me get back to sleep, telling me that they would both be with me for a long long time and I had nothing to worry about. That memory still feels fresh in my mind and it's hard to believe the time has come already to say goodbye to him forever. 

My Dad just turned 70 a few months ago. I naively assumed my parents would both live well into their 80s, enjoying growing old together and spending time with their adult children and the grandchildren we would give them. I just turned 33 in February and only a few years ago entered that stage of life where you truly appreciate your parents as individuals and friends in a grown up way, moving on from a pure parent / child dynamic. Chris and I are just a few short months away from moving out of London to live close to my parent's village in Surrey and we were all so looking forward to spending more family time together.

It is heartbreaking to think that he will never know my children or see my sister on her wedding day or grow old with my Mummy as he was supposed to. He won't get to renovate the house they bought last summer which they finished planning and designing just days before his death. This wonderful vision of the future, that I was so sure would become reality, has been completely shattered by his loss.

Cancer has cheated him out of another decade or so in this world. There was so much more for him to enjoy in his life, and so much more we all wanted to share and do with him.

Daddy, I miss you desperately. You are constantly in my thoughts and you will be forever in my heart.

My wonderful Daddy on my wedding day in London, September 2013

I would really welcome your thoughts and reactions on this post. Leaving a comment is really easy: type your comment below, include your name, then select "Comment as: Anonymous" and click "Publish". I moderate all comments so it may take a day or so before it appears on the blog. Thanks! x

1 comment

  1. Celia, lovely written piece and having been through a similar shock with my Dad I completely identify with the emotions and disbelief you and your family went through on that Sunday.

    My Dad had actually recovered from a Cancer scare and treatment at teh wonderful Christie hospital in Manchester and was on the way to being back to 'normal' (whatever that is) only to be taken by a heart attack caused by a similar blood clot embolism (payback for his years of smoking) on a Saturday morning only moments after I'd been talking to him.

    I spent a good while trying to resuscitator him until the ambulance arrived but he had gone. At the time I felt I was partially at fault for not having done more as I'd woken up in the night (3am) and unusually (as it was normally Mum who'd fallen asleep) found my Dad sat up complaining of indigestion! It wasn't unusual for Dad to get indigestion but in the morning he seemed fine (although I did tell Mum) and did his usual trip to the Butchers and dropped off Anne's order and also played with an 8yo Chris.

    Afterwards I found writing about it helped me enormously, obviously 1991 was pre widespread internet and Blogging, but there are copious amounts of A4 pages of my feelings somewhere in a box.
    I also endlessly played a song by Rush called 'Time Stand Still' with what I thought where seriously pertinent lyrics. I even wrote some of them on the card placed with the family flowers. Hearing that song always makes me think about Dad and I've even shed a tear or two when I've heard Rush play it live.

    He was a lovely bloke who, I'm sure Anne has told you on many occasions, was everything to us as your father was to you all.Their passaing leave a massive hole in your life and heart that you never think can be repaired but over time it gets easier and it heals but the scars are still there, indeed I've just made myself cry writing about what happened that morning.

    What does happen with the passage of time is that you remember the good things, the fun, laughter, meals, holidays and just everything that was 'life' There are always regrets of things you didn't say or do but they mustn't be dwelt upon because the good time outweigh the regrets by a magnitude.

    They always live on in your heart and as long as they're there they live on, that is your part in this and needs to be turned into a positive. They are gone, we can't change that but as long as we talk about and remember them they're still with us and live on.

    (Virtual hug) :-)


    You never forget and despite him leaving us nearly 24 years ago, his anniversary is the day before my birhday in April