Fear of Flying

All the tubes are taken out and we wait, sit. This is what we all dread, coming face to face with death. Seeing, and feeling the last breath of the person you love most in this world. Then it happens the final rattle and the breathing stops, panic and not letting go; the screams of “I love you” as if he didn’t already know and hope that the last words of love will help him through whatever is the next stage.

My daughter screamed, “I love you Papa”, then my despair at losing my love turned into maternal despair on seeing my thirteen year old daughter saying goodbye to her dying father.

We kissed him goodbye and clung to each other as we walked back to our little room in the hospital; the longest walk we will ever make.

Five years later, we still sometimes cling to each other. Yesterday, after an exam for her final year of school, she was standing at the top of the stairs looking wistfully at me and I knew something was wrong.  “I miss Papa” she cried and the tears that didn’t really flow when he died seemed to be released like the opening of a valve on a pressure cooker.  I ran to her and wrapped her in my arms and said, “Yes so do I”.

“I was so little” she said. “I never really got to know him”.

Grief never leaves you.

“You must remember the good times you had together” I said. “Because your father was sick you spent a lot of time together. He looked after you while I worked. You probably spent more time with your father than most people do. You were good friends. Do you remember that funny rap dancing video you both made?”  She nodded.

This is the role I seem to excel at; caring for others. The role I am not so good at is caring for myself. I need to deal with the grief, not ignore it but stop feeling as though there was always something more I could have done. I happened upon some jottings I made around the time of his death.

16th May

 Sam died the 10th May 2009 at 5pm in Intensive Care at RPAH after a liver cancer operation where they took out the right lobe of his liver. He never really recovered.

I never told him he was dying but he must have known. When he was moved into the room he knew something was going on but was really confused. We didn’t really say goodbye and there are no notes for me anywhere so he didn’t want to die. I said farewell to him but he didn’t say much to me the whole two weeks.

I know he loved me but I feel he is angry with me for letting him down because he said “Don’t let me go.”

This is my burden that I must deal with if I am to be set free. I let him down because I let him go.  I know that I must shake myself free of this and turn his love for me into love for myself and use it to fly again.


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Day job: a small consultancy delivering customised pronunciation training for professionals who work in English as their second or third language. Wanna be job: A creative person who writes, takes photos and lives
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