Letters to my Dad

Dear Dad,

A month ago I started writing this with these words:

We spoke on the phone for 11 minutes today. You told me that you got home quite late, later than your newer bedtime. Which for me is still a shock. I told you that I went to go listen to some live music last night and you chastised me for it, because that’s what you think I do all the time. I think I’ve been trying to tell you that I’m on holiday and that I’ll only go back to college next week, but still seems like a distant topic to you.

Cancer has only been in our lives for 8 months, or rather that we knew about. But so far it has done strange things to our lives. I used to think about it as black frost; something living, breathing and amazing the one day and overnight the temperature drops and all that is gone. I looked at it and was appalled. Everything it touched just died. Or so I thought. But it wasn’t that it was a freeze, the top bits got frozen and died off. There was still life underneath. But I refused to see that life. I just wanted to cling to everything that was there.

I see that life now. That enthusiasm and beauty that I missed out the first time. You made me smile in our talk. I was so afraid to smile at whatever you said. I was afraid it would crack us all and leave us broken. Cancer, the dirty thing that kills. Maybe one day we’ll look back at cancer and put it in the category of “love kills”. We will laugh in the face of adversary. Not today. Not now. I just needed to hear your voice for that 11-minutes.

You weren’t that man I grew up with anymore. Brain cancer robs you of that. It makes things look ugly and dirty. Your love turned into impatience. Your understanding nature into everyone being wrong. You’re constantly frustrated. You forget the words and your arguments are like husks. You giant of a man, with intellect beyond. Now, just a giant shell of a man, with understanding but no way to show it. I miss you. I still love you, no one can explain that love. But it’s still there.

Love. The thing you showed to all. Especially your wife, then your children. All of them. I’ll be sad when it all has to start going.

Today this happened:

I’ve been sitting opposite you for about 35 minutes when Debi finally told you that you won’t be going home. That from the hospital you’ll go to a hospice, you’ll never move into the new place this weekend.

It has begun.

You went for that dreadful MRI, you hate the confined spaces, on Tuesday. They wanted to see if they could do something for you and I was hopeful. I sat talking to you, telling things about my life and laughing and smiling with you. Then Wednesday happened. It happened and I felt sick.

Today you were supposed to have started your 5th round of chemo. It’s only been 9 months since we found out. You’ve been fighting it well. Today you may have gone in for another operation to help you. But they said that it would be useless. That you would be left a vegetable.

Today they stopped everything. Your medication that keeps you alive and soon everything will be gone. The cancer will take over the brain and starve its host. The best alien invader with no prospect to live or function. It’s a strange alien as it does not want world domination, but rather it just wants to kill off everything it touches. That’s a dumb way to do things! You thrive by keeping things under oppression and alive. Hello, that’s Overlording 101. If you kill, soon you’ll die out. But that’s exactly what’s going to happen. You’re on your way to death now. Soon I’ll have to answer that call. We all have to die. However, you’re so young and I could only spend not even half your life here with you. This would mean I’ll never be able to introduce my boyfriend to you or friends or anyone else. They would never know the privilege of knowing you.

Because knowing you has been a privilege. You raised me and loved me. Took me serious when no one else listened. You showed me how to have fun and we ended up sharing books we loved together. I wish you carried on reading in the end, I just wanted that for you. Mostly, I just wanted to see you happy.

But soon we will be robbed from that. Soon we will have to stand talking about you to others and not show you to others. I know parents get buried by their children, I just hoped that it was later. I will always love you. We will always remember who you were before the cancer came. I just wish it never came for you. Thank you for supporting me in whatever I did, encouraging me to do what I love and nurturing that what I did. You are not the cancer and the cancer never was you. Damnit dad, who am I going to gossip with now.

My favourite photo I took.