It’s ten years on since 14th February 2007. The day started much like any other Wednesday. I got up and was getting ready for work. My Mum was in the kitchen making sandwiches for my Dad to take fishing. While my Dad was busy sorting out his bait boxes and fishing tackle out. It was my first Valentines Day as an adult without a boyfriend. I wasn’t bothered though. I cheerfully reminded my Dad that he’d better get my mum a Valentine’s card on his way to the pond, and he replied, “No chance”! (He wasn’t a fan of the media hype surrounding Vday).

Ten years on – Bereavement

He left for the pond at 10ish, giving us a cheery wave and a “See you later”, as he went. I left for work not long afterwards. I was on my first break from 12.45-1pm, and as I made my way back to my desk, my mobile rang. It was my Mum, and it didn’t ring for long so I assumed she had rang me by accident… Something she did a lot. I sat down and started taking customer calls. (I worked in a call centre).

My phone rang again but I couldn’t answer it. This time I saw a voicemail had pinged through. I went down to the toilets once my customer hung up and listened to a frantic message from my mum to ring her. When I tried, her phone was engaged. The landline was engaged too. The next thing, my phone flashed “mum mobile”.

When my sister in law answered, I was shocked. I was even more shocked when she said, “He’s not breathing Tee, your Dad’s not breathing.” I was so confused. He was at the pond wasn’t he? I thought he’d fallen in at first. (He couldn’t swim). I could hear my Mum crying and screaming in the background, and realised he was back at home. My sister in law told me I had to get home right away. Then changed her mind and told me to meet them at the hospital.

Leaving Work

I ran out of the toilets onto the call centre floor in tears. Of course, I was frantic. I had no idea what was going on, just that my Dad wasn’t breathing and the paramedics were working on him at home. My poor team manager didn’t know what to do with me. I was in no fit state to drive, and she couldn’t drive either. She was going to try to get someone to take me to the hospital but I realised I’d need my car, so I tried to calm myself down. I’m pretty good in a crisis, and it didn’t take me long to sort myself out.

As I walked to the car, I phoned my friend who works with my Dad’s sister. She put my aunt on the phone so I could tell her what I knew. The drive to the hospital seemed to take hours. In reality, it probably took 20 minutes. I got to A&E and was shown to the relatives room. I’d expected to find my Mum and Sister in law in there, but most of my siblings were there too. Except my Dad’s son who lived 600+ miles away. My sister in law explained my Dad had had a heart attack and stopped breathing. They had restarted his heart but were still working on him.

ten years on - bereavement. My dad and I in 1986

Phoning My Brother

I headed outside to phone my brother… Hoping that he’d have enough time to get here in case the unimaginable happened. I was shocked to discover he and his wife were actually in Manchester, and he’d be with us within an hour. The doctors had stabilised my Dad enough for us to see him by this point. So I went in to see him. He was covered in wires and not responding. The doctor explained that although his heart was beating by itself, he’d been without oxygen for so long, it was unlikely he’d recover, and that once his heart stopped again, he’d pass away.

Distraught didn’t cover it. They moved him up to this small side room, out of the way. There was enough room round the bed for 2 people to sit at a time. There was also a family room nearby, and we all took it in turns to sit with him and talk to him. I swear he was responding. Firstly, he jumped when the door slammed closed. Then he squeezed my hand when I told him I loved him. The doctor said he was brain dead though, and those things were a coincidence.

I Promise

I remember promising him I’d walk his dog every day. Also, telling him he’d go to any lengths to avoid buying a Valentine’s card. By the time 9pm rolled around, the family room was packed. His brother, sister, their partners, my siblings, my nephew, my mum and some friends were all there. We realised he was slipping away and gathered in the small room. It was (at that time) the most horrific thing I’d witnessed. I felt angry at the doctors for not doing more, I felt sick at the thought of going home without him too. Eventually though, we had to.

My mum and I went back to our house and cried. My best friend turned up not long after with cigs for my mum and she kept me company all night. I couldn’t sleep. In my bereft mind, sleeping seemed to make it all final. I kept thinking that the idea that my Dad died yesterday seemed much more final than the thought of him passing away the same day. It makes no sense to me at all now, but sleeping wasn’t on the cards that day.

Planning A Funeral

The next few days passed in a blur. A blur of keeping busy, crying, passing out from exhaustion, crying, planning a funeral, crying and looking after my Mum. I remember reading out a poem at my Dad’s funeral, but I couldn’t tell you what it was now. The days were spent trying to find the perfect one as well, but now the words have disappeared from my memory bank.

I don’t know why I’m writing this really. I guess I want to make a record of my memories in case I ever lose them.

I’m 33 now and have a husband of my own. We got together 11 months after my Dad passed away, so today is our 10th Valentines Day together as well. I honestly don’t know how he puts up with me. He deserves a medal really. I am a weepy, snotty, sleep deprived mess today. He gave me a home made hamper full of treats this morning – He’s a keeper!

This year is the hardest Valentines Day so far. Not only am I missing my Dad today, I’m missing my Mum too. I am usually so wrapped up in making sure my Mum’s ok on February 14th, that there’s not much time for me to get upset. This year is different though. This year I am missing the two people who loved me the most. I hope they are together again – wherever they are.

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