Oh, Pops. You have no idea how much you are loved. Your cancer diagnosis scared me. To then hear you were having your bladder, prostate and part of your bowel removed petrified me. You’re bloody minded to say the least so I thought that, whilst shocking and a change in life style, this would be for the best. You got yourself fit, thank God. You did what the doctors told you (for once), thank God. You got through 7+ hours of surgery, thank God. But then… then it got too much for your poor broken body.
Father, you’ve had a stroke. Not a small one either, in fact, medically, it’s a massive stroke. I mean, if you were going to do it, you may as well do it properly. You’ve scared us so very much. You’ve been in a coma for 9 days, with machines breathing for you. I know you didn’t want Sister and me to see you like that, but we needed to for us. We needed to tell you, no matter what has happened in the past, we love you and we are proud of you for fighting.
Now you’re out of a coma and I stupidly expected you to just be Father. You’re not though. You can’t communicate, you can’t eat and drink, you don’t know who you are and you definitely don’t know who I am. Some could argue this may be an improvement on the Father that went into hospital?! You’ve got complex medical needs as you’ve never done things by halves, not just from the major surgery site but due to being in intensive care for so long. It also turns out you have a heart problem but at least you do have one. Your diabetes is currently not under control either, maybe a bit more sugar will make you sweeter on the other side of this. It’s all a big fat mess to be honest. But, that’s one thing you are not. The intensive care ‘diet’ has taken its toll and you are a shadow of your former self. If you can fight back from this, I promise you the best pork pie money can buy.
Sister and I have spent days living on adrenaline (and sadly, a lot of donuts, crisps and fizzy drinks – you’d think hospitals would be full of healthy food!). We thought we were losing you. Now you’ve ‘settled’ – albeit chucking more medical problems at us by bleeding everywhere! – we are faced with the possibility of not losing you physically but having already lost you mentally. You have an infection too so you’re not out the woods yet, you like to keep us on our toes. I want to shout at you to keep fighting but, for the first time, I am not sure fighting is the best outcome. I know you can fight, our trip to Wales to try and patch up our relationship showed just how cross you can get. I get it now, you were scared of how ill I was and how little you knew of me. Not only that but, you knew you’d contributed to it. Well, stop being angry at that now please, start being angry at your brain and tell it to F off and come back to us. If fighting isn’t the best, you’ve done a blooming good job for the last few weeks. Everything happens for a reason and, you’ve fought for 3 weeks to get us to communicate with Step Mum and 1 of our Step sisters. It may have taken over 20 years, but Step Mum and I are talking… daily… seriously, this is not a joke. It has not been easy. There has been screaming, crying, doors slammed and swear words thrown but, on the other side of it, we are talking (there are also 2 speeding tickets with my name on but let’s not dwell on the law-breaking part). We are working as a slightly dysfunctional team. Team Father.
I need to say some things to you. You don’t know who I am so, this is a letter to help me. Maybe this will allow me to introduce myself as a better version of me too?
Father, I’ve gone through so many emotions with you. I’ve hated you, loved you, wanted to hurt you and wanted you to love me. I’ve wanted you to be something you are not and ultimately, this is where I’ve caused so much damage to myself. I wanted something that you can’t give. Now, I am faced with nothing and oh, boy, the song ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ is on repeat in my head, I don’t know the rest of the words, so it really is just that line on loop. I have so much guilt for not being the bigger person and getting over things and words you’ve said and done to me. I tried. I really did. I just wasn’t in a place to give up the dream of who you should be and accept the human who you are. Cancer doesn’t give you carte blanche to have said and done some of the things you’ve done either. You’re not completely off the hook. But… I love you. I need you and I want a relationship with you. I don’t want this to be the end. This has shown me that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I’ve not handled this perfectly by any means but wow, I am tougher than I realised. I can and will be ok even though I don’t always feel it.
You are also tough. You shouldn’t have survived all this, but you are still clinging on. I want you to know, if you can’t hold on or fight on much further, I understand. If you need to slip off, I get it. I am thankful for the hours spent holding your hand and telling you that I love you. I needed that. Now, do what you need to do. If you need to fight, then we are all right here doing everything possible to support you. Just to peeve you off, we’ve been praying over your bed too, so we’ve been trying to make amends with our creator on your behalf.
Please Father, please please please know that I do love you. Don’t forget or doubt that. You’ve been a shit at times, but I’ve also been one too. I’ll always be scared that you never knew I do love you but as Sister has said to me, you loved me as best as you could. I will hold onto that.
One day you may get to read this, but if not, that’s ok. I’ve been by your bed nearly every day and I’ll do it for as long as needed. Seeing me tell you that I love you in black and white will have to do if you never get to hear it from me.
Big, jumbled emotional hugs coming your way