Death is such a gruesome thing to fantasise about and yet I had many a fantasy about my father’s death. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word fantasy though, it has a quality to it that makes me feel like I enjoyed thinking about my father’s death which I most certainly did not. But I kept imagining it. The feeling is almost like popping a pimple, you know it hurts, you know its gona cause damage yet you still go ahead and do it and the process is cruelly satisfying.
I lived through many scenarios in my head, they’d usually come to me as I’d lay in bed trying to fall asleep. A recurring vision was one where he passed and for some reason no one called me and I found out only hours later. This one tormented me because the thought of me happily going about my business while by father was dead was enough to send me straight to the nuthouse. It made me feel… Uncomfortable? Selfish? Bad? A combination of all of these maybe.
Another bad one was that he died in the middle of the night, alone. If there’s one thing my dad hated, it was being alone. While he was in hospital I suffered from feelings of equal parts desperation and rage. Here I was, at work, smiling and talking to my co-workers when my father lay alone in a hospital bed with a total stranger. For 21 hours of the day he was without his family. I’d get in to bed at night and imagine him lying in the ICU bed, uncomfortable and alone. Did he wonder where we were? Did he imagine that we had abandoned him? He was so disoriented that I feared he didn’t comprehend where he was and why he was alone. Did he understand that there was nowhere else I’d rather be than holding his hand? Did he wake up in the middle of the night desperate for his own bed? Probably. And that’s what makes it worse.
One of the better ones was where, by some miracle, he was sent home from the hospital. His death would take place in his home, with him lying on his bed. We’d all be surrounding him and he’d smile, close his eyes and pass. We’d all be gently sobbing, trying to give each other comfort. My mom would’ve been sitting next to him, holding his hand. He’d know that he was surrounded be people who loved him, we would have all said our goodbyes and he would be at peace. Very Hollywood like but still pleasant.
The real thing was completely unlike any of what I had imagined although I must say it was a combination of a lot of the various scenarios I had played in my mind. When I got a phone call in the middle of the night I wasn’t surprised. That part featured a lot in my imagination. While I drove to the hospital I imagined seeing my sisters and my mum there, all slightly hysterical while the doctors fought for my father’s life. It was nothing like that of course. I arrived at his bed, the first of my family and I was alone. He had a team of nurses and his doctor but everything was quiet and hushed, not the chaos I imagined.
The doctor calmly explained that his organs were failing and that things weren’t looking to good. I didn’t burst into tears like I expected. I just took my father’s hand and whispered reassurances to him while waiting for the rest of the family. When they did arrive it was up to me to explain how bad things were. I still didn’t believe it though. Knowing someone is going to die and them actually dieing are two very different feelings.
The morning went by very quickly, each hour lowered his heart rate even more. We didn’t stay by his bedside at every moment which I very much wanted to but I just couldn’t do it. Watching the figures drop was driving me insane and it was also very boring. Plus, a part of me didn’t actually believe he’d die. To my surprise I actually had a nap in the comfort room, who would’ve thought that I could sleep in his last few hours of life? Not me certainly. Turns out I’m an extremely selfish person, not that I’m surprised, I’ve been told that many times.
The doctor came back in the morning, gave him one last check up and confirmed that there was nothing to be done. We had till the end of the day. And yet I still didn’t believe it. I know, I’m a bit thick skulled. After a while we all sat in the waiting room discussing out next course of action. My sisters and aunt would go home to freshen up. My mum needed to eat so she was going downstairs. I decided to stick around, I couldn’t bear to leave him alone. As mum tried to persuade to go get something to eat with her the nurse came and called us.
We calmly walked to my dad’s bed and I looked at his monitor. I quickly called my sisters and told them to hurry back. His heart rate was at 44. The nurse explained, he was on his way out, we needed to say our good byes. I had just enough time to grab his hand and say ‘Dad, I love you, everything is going to be ok’ when his heart stopped. It went from 44 to 25 to 0. Just like that. No stuttering, no drama, no beeps, nothing. His life ended, just like that.
My sisters and aunt walked in about 3 minutes later and they realised that he was gone and that’s when the drama started. The weeping and wailing and crying. I still didn’t believe it though. His body was warm and the ventilator was still on which meant his chest was still gently rising and falling. I could still smell his scent, how could he be dead.
The moment I truly realised that he was no more was when I lifted my head from his pillow, wiped my eyes and felt… nothing. Absolutely nothing. There was no pull anymore. I didn’t feel any need to be near him. I was standing next to a body, just a shell. My Father was no longer there. In that moment I turned and walked away from him bed. It was easy actually. And nothing at all like my fantasies.