Sometimes grief is maddening. It comes on so strong like a gigantic wave of pain and suffering that it become physically difficult to move. Literally.
Today was one of those days. In the words of Ed Sheeran, “There’s a tear every time that I blink”. (Supermarket Flowers)
I came across some pictures and found one of my dad trying out my husbands new virtual reality headset. Thanks to technology I knew the date and time the photo was taken. 14 September 2017. 25 days before my dad was taken into hospital. On the 13th of October my dad was taken into intensive care. On the 31st of October he died.
I’m still feeling nauseated with shock and disbelief that my dad could have gone so quickly. My brain is struggling to process everything. And so today I sit down to write a little more about that period of time. To make sense of it all and find something poignant and beautiful in those memories, because I know that if I look hard enough, I will find it.
In a previous post I described the day I took my dad into hospital for a chest x ray and blood test. I had him assessed by two doctors in the urgent care centre and was told he was very sick but could go home. So I drove him home.
I left Dad settled in bed with his PJs on and kissed Mum goodbye that evening and drove home to my family with a strange feeling in my stomach.
The evening passed by uneventfully and I went to bed early that night. Around 10pm. As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out like a light.
I was sleeping dreamlessly when I suddenly gasped and sat bolt upright in my bed, covered in cold sweat and a terrible pang in my stomach. I turned my head to look at my phone sitting on my bedside and noticed it flashing. 3 missed calls and a voicemail from Mum.
I grabbed the phone and listened to the message. A panicked, emotional voice told me that Dad had been taken into hospital via ambulance. The paramedics mentioned Sepsis. I called my mum, who was unable to go with the paramedics and told her I’ll go in and see Dad. “Laura, he’s very sick. We might lose him,” she said, her voice sounded strange and distant as if my ears were not taking in her words.
I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes, told Ross I’m going to the hospital and flew into the car as fast as I could. As I drove down the main dual carriageway following the signs to the hospital my hands gripped the top of the steering wheel and I screaming the whole way. Tears soaked my cheeks and made my lips taste salty. Rain was lashing against the windscreen and the sound of the wiper blades were echoing in my ears with each moment I stopped screaming to take a breath.
I parked up outside the emergency entrance and slowly walked towards the front doors. I thought I was going to be violently sick on the pavement, my legs trembled with each step yet I kept telling myself to be strong for Dad. I told myself he would be ok. Everything will work out. Have faith.
As I walked into the A&E reception I was greeted by two blonde ladies who were sitting back in their chairs munching on biscuits and chatting casually about something they’d seen on TV. “Can I help you” one of them said, adjusting her spectacles as she looked up at me. I was out of breath by this point.
“Brian Burchell…he’s here. I’m his daughter” is all I could get out. I noticed the waiting room was unusually empty and it added to the feeling of isolation. The woman’s face turned serious, “Oh right,” she said in a low voice. “He’s in the resus room” she continued buzzing me through some double doors.
I marched through and just kept walking forward. I had no idea where I was going, just followed the signs to “resus”. I didn’t know what “resus” meant. But I knew it wasn’t good.
I rounded a corner and came across a large double doorway which was open. It lead to a huge room full of machines and tubes. There was a whole team of doctors and nurses talking animatedly to each other and looking at computer monitors. I could hear beeping coming from somewhere and in the midst of all of this was a tiny bed on wheels. I ran to it.
The doctors walked out of the room leaving behind two nurses who smiled kindly at me and I think they spoke to me but at this point it was all a haze. All I could do was stare at the frail, skinny man laying on the bed. His skin was white as snow and his knuckles stood out. I grabbed his hand, tears in my eyes and said softly “Dad, I’m here. You’re alright now,”
Dad slowly opened his eyes, he blinked tiredly and gave me a weary smile. “Oh Laura, love. It’s so nice to see you.” I squeezed his hand and smiled back.
One of the nurses turned to me again, this time I looked at her and tried to pay attention. “You’re just in time,” she said brightly. “We are moving your dad to the Acute Assessment Ward.”
“Oh marvellous” Dad said pleasantly.
The nurse smiled at him and turned back to me, her eyes looked tired from a long shift but she looked touched. “Your Dad has been the most polite and delightful patient I have ever had. He’s a very special man.” She said kindly. Dad waved a hand aside and shook his head weakly. “Oh no,” he said softy.
I sniffed and gulped feeling a hard lump form in the base of my neck.
“Oh you’ve no idea.” I said firmly. Something was pressing on my chest as I watched the nurses prepare to move the bed out of the room. I eyed the tubes and wires sticking out of my dad’s arms and the oxygen tube in his nostrils. As they pushed the bed forwards I walked behind thinking to myself if only these nurses knew just how special their patient was.
It’s hurts so much Dad. I miss you more than I can bare.