Just over three and a half years ago I was lying raw with grief in the cocoon of my bed, in a state of disbelief that Colin was completely gone and would now be forever absent in my life, the girls’ lives. I couldn’t speak for the sobs that just kept coming. My dad crept into my room, lay beside me and hugged me and simply said: “darling, I am so so sorry.” Through the tears I told him that this was just too sore. I couldn’t go through this awful sense of loss again, ever and please Dad look after yourself now because I can’t lose you or anyone else I love.” He hugged me and perhaps made a wee promise to himself that he would.
Since that day dad did look after himself. He lost the weight advised by the doctors and he stopped drinking his beloved pints. And you know what? He has just died too. The heart again. And I want to scream and scream and scream at the injustice of it all.
Why, just when life was getting back on track for all of us, do we need to go through another massive loss? Why do my little girls have to lose their Daddy, their Poppa and now their Granddad in the space of three and a half years? Why does Evie have to suffer the worry of who will be next to go, “will it be you mummy”? Why do I have to watch my amazing mum so suddenly go from being part of the rock solid duo that was ‘Pat and Billy’ to being the ‘W’ word that for so long feels so alien?
It feels unfair yet so familiar. It has all come back to me. The sleepless nights, the brain that runs away with itself all the time thinking about the what if’s and the absolute and utter despair that someone so loved is now simply nowhere to be found. It hurts. I hurt, my sisters hurt, our whole family hurts but most of all my mum hurts. She is devastated. However as each day passes, since a horrific Monday morning two weeks ago, she has been proving her mettle through her sadness and I so wish she didn’t have to, not quite yet.
It feels odd to now be a four where once we were a five but I am so lucky to come from the family I have. Since dad took ill last month we have stuck together – eating, sleeping and breathing first our worry through those early days at the hospital then our acceptance yet disbelief that the inevitable was coming. We shared makeshift hospital sleeping arrangements, we shared the responsibility of being dad’s company and hand holders, we shared the pain of saying goodbye and we share the shock of his absence. We are finding laughter through the tears helps us. We all hurt but dad leaves behind him a tight-knit squad. Mum, Karen, Jo and I, as well as our families, will miss him so, so much but we will keep on going in his wake. Someday soon I will find a positive lesson from all this and I will bring that to my girls because, as my sister told those hundreds of mourners gathered this time last week at dad’s service:
“Billy/Bill/Dad – your life was full of love, laughter and, of course, music and you made ours and so many others’ lives all the better for it. These are the values that are embedded in all of us and that we are imprinting on our wee girls, your grandchildren. That’s your gift to us and we thank you with all our hearts.”