Back in 2013, I moved in with my dying dad. One morning I was busy making him breakfast and he seemed unusually upset. I asked what was wrong and he said, “They came to get me last night,” and pointed towards the ceiling. So of course, stupid me asked, “Who?” He got extremely upset and yelled at me, pointing again at the ceiling. I didn’t say a thing but rather just looked at him, dumbstruck. From that night on he would not sleep in his bedroom. Instead, he slept on the couch and watched television while I drifted off to sleep beside him.
I woke up around midnight to find him still watching television. We talked awhile when, right in the middle of our conversation he looked up, waved his hand, and said, “Go away. It’s not yet time.” I was outrageously shocked.
“Who are you talking to?” I said, but my words were lost. It seemed useless for me to talk to him at all since he couldn’t hear me anyway, let alone recognise me. I tried to hold his arm and shake him but nothing seemed to work.
I sat there beside him and finally fell asleep once more. I woke up again early in the morning only to find that my dad was not himself anymore. I contacted our family doctor and he didn’t waste any time. He examined him saying, “Nothing seems to be wrong. Just give him lots of water and let him sleep and he will be fine.” I could scarcely find the words to describe how I felt. How could a well-trained doctor say that all is well when someone is lying on their death bed? I thought. It’s simply not normal.
My dad and I were very close so goodbye was not an option. Besides, I knew that goodbye could mean only one thing: death. In the evening of that very same day I noticed that he had gone blind so I decided not to switch on the lights or the television. Suddenly those black eyes of his opened wide; he looked once more at the ceiling. I wanted to ask him what he was seeing but something stopped me. As his eyes swept around the room I went up to him, touched him gently, and cuddled him very closely. That was the very last time I touched him while his heart was still pumping blood.
“You defeated me. You overpowered me. You have won so go ahead.” These were his last words. We could not foretell that our love was to be ripped in two pieces. A single tear ran down my cheek, slowly running red. A river of pain remains, leaving my hopes for dead.
I lit a candle, put it on the wooden table, and lay down on a couch next to my late dad. I cried myself to sleep. I fell into a deep sleep from the exhaustion of crying when I felt a soft breeze pass over me and then felt a warm touch on my cheek. I swear that this was my dad’s goodbye. The next morning when I woke up the candle was no longer lit. I don’t know how this happened but I suspect it was my dad. He saved his daughter and house from burning to ashes.
After my dad’s burial I had to move out of our house to my aunt’s. I could foresee the dark ahead if I stayed. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I would be up half the night, tossing and turning. I could no longer recognise the girl in the mirror. A girl who was once happy and full of life was now paled by grief and sadness. At my worst I could not make myself get out of bed and I would fake sick to get out of school. If you had told me before my dad died that I would ever feel like this I would probably burst out laughing and think you were crazy.
My aunt tried to come up with all sorts of ways to help but I simply wasn’t ready to meet her half way. In fact, I wasn’t at all interested. I could see that she couldn’t deal with my behaviour anymore but was too caring to express her emotions.
I never had a mother growing up. She dumped me when I was still an infant, a fact that has always hurt me. What kind of mother does that? Still, I thank her for not aborting me. Throughout my life I realised that all I needed was a guarantee that my dad would love me forever. Yet, my love for him, once the force that gave me energy, was now taking what little I had left. No one could understand how much I cursed that fateful day when I feel I lost a quarter of my life.
As time went by I thought I was going insane. I was so terrified because I couldn’t remember the sound of his voice anymore. I missed him so much and still do. If heaven had visiting hours I’d visit him once. I don’t really know much but I know this much is true: Time went by but God my saviour looked with mercy on my lowliness. He has revealed his power and glory to me.
I had to deal with my emotions for the sake of my life, which was at stake at the time. Everything seemed to be falling apart and my future was in the ICU (between living and being doomed). I’m the author of my life, the director of my future, and the ruler of my actions, so who ought to be “Miss Fix It” besides me? Nobody but me. I got into an internet read about people with similar stories and knew I had to unpack my feelings to find closure. I started using my pen and paper as my therapists, which I why I am sharing this with you now.
Tell us: Have you experienced grief? How did you cope with it?