The end is nigh.

Professor Gumby

 7 weeks since diagnosis. 7 little weeks that have felt like 7 years. Every time we have made plans, something else has malfunctioned and we’ve had to change them. Now is no exception. The plan was to get him moving again after the pelvic fracture and although he’d still be paralysed from the waist downwards, an extra little treat courtesy of the spinal tumour compressing the spinal column, we could get him home, set him up in the living room and carry on our chaotic existence with him in the middle of it, issuing orders and chatting to the dog. Then, at the very end, he wants to go to the hospice and die there.

Except that once again it’s all gone tits up.

Mum just rang from the hospital, his breathing has deteriorated and they’ve had to tranquilise him. The ward says they’re going everything they can, which means they have no idea whether it is the end but they suspect it might be. She’s going to ring me from the ward before 11 to let me know how he’s doing and during the night if I need to come in. Tactful code for ‘if he’s going to die soon’. He didn’t want to die in hospital, he wanted to die in the hospice and if this bastarding disease denies even that tiny kindness I will be utterly fucking furious.

The doctor is coming to see us at ten am tomorrow, assuming he isn’t dead by then. Quite what they’re going to say is a mystery because I fail to see how they can enlighten us beyond ‘he’s got raging lung cancer and everything is shutting down’. We need to find out whether we can get him transferred to the hospice for treatment.

I’ve never seen anyone die before. He’s my dad and I feel like I should be more hysterical, he’s 58 for fuck’s sake and this whole thing has been utterly gruesome but I’m not, I’m calmer than when his legs stopped working and certainly calmer than when we first got the diagnosis and d’you know why? Because he’s gone already, there’s flashes of him, the way he’s trying to take care of us all, a flash of humour that breaks through the drugs and the pain but the everyday dad we had is disappearing day by day and I’ve already started mourning him. That first bit of grief, the one where it’s all so new and freshly painful, I’ve done that bit and moved onto the steady ache. I don’t doubt that it’s going to get so so much worse when he does die but I can see now that wanting him to stay longer is selfish, it’s for my benefit and not for his. Every day something new fails and hurts, I can’t ask him to stay longer if he’s ready to go now because I don’t want him to be in pain and I wouldn’t want to live that way. I wouldn’t expect my dog to live on in this condition, I can’t expect my father to do so jsut because I don’t want to let go.

In our family we don’t talk much about emotions. Ever. Not big ones, the ones that matter. The other day Mr V advised me that if I can’t say the things that matter to him I should write them down and so, fortified with wine-based courage on Saturday I did just that. I wrote down all the things I was thinking, what he meant to me and how much I thought of him. I put the letter in an early father’s day card and nearly didn’t give it to him but in the end I handed it over and told him to read it when I left. I’m so glad now that I did, that he won’t go with no idea that I thought he was a great father and without knowing that I’ll do my best for Mike and Mum when he’s gone. It was a hard letter to write because how do you write goodbye to someone you thought you’d have another 25 years with? Someone who shouldn’t be going when you’re 31? You shouldn’t have to because cancer shouldn’t take down good people but yet somehow it always seems to. Clarey’s mum, chaz’s mum, Katie’s mum, Andy’s dad, my dad, all wonderful, funny, warm people who’d do anything for you and only one whose disease didn’t turn out to be terminal.

Cancer is fucking hideous. It really is. If I can ever find some way to get rid of this fucking abysmal disease I will do it. I know that some of you have experienced this but I hope that none of the rest of you do because it’s bloody horrendous.


22 Responses

  1. I am so sorry for all the hurt and sadness you and your family are feeling at this time Vicola. I know nothing that I write will be of much help, but my thoughts are with you.

  2. Vicola: It’s really good that you’ve had the presence of mind to write the letter. You’ll be so so glad you told him absolutely everything you needed to and wanted to. I’m so sorry for how quick this is. Even when you know it may not be long and you try to prepare yourself, it’s still a shock. And the steady ache hurts like a bitch. I know exactly what that’s like. I’m glad you’re getting it all out here. It helps even a little, I wager. Thinking of you and your family. Lots of love.

  3. Those of us who have lost parents to cancer share your pain, Vicola.

    I recall the tears that flowed one Christmas when our daughter wrote us a letter telling us how much she loved and appreciated us. I’m glad you had the chance to say it to your Dad. I’m sure the tears flowed when he read it too. It is the most beautiful letter a parent can receive. Thinking of you.

  4. My darling girl,
    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. If I could fly to England just to give you a hug, I would do it. I know how close you are to your father—I remember your posts about him since VOX days. I agree with everything Paikea and Snowy said. It’s good that you wrote to him, and I know how hard that was for you. You’ll be very glad you did it, and if this has to be, let it happen for him with as little pain as possible.

    I SO wish we could all be there for you, but we do care, more than you can possibly imagine.

    Thinking of you, dear, and your father.

    With love,

  5. Oh Vicola, what horrible, dark days you’re going through. I echo what the others said above, you writing a letter to your father is just amazing.

    There’s so much I could write, but nothing will make any difference to what you’re going through. Just know that if it helps, I’m thinking of you and your family and I am available for on-line/off-line chats if you need a ‘stranger’ to talk to xx

  6. My thoughts are with you and your family Vicola – I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I’ll bet your dad’s hella proud of how strong you are.

  7. Oh my dear I’m so so sorry 😦
    All my thoughts are with you and your family. Cancer is total shit and I’m so sorry you’re all going through this.
    Well done for writing the letter, that was amazing, thoughtful and insightful. I’m sure your father is very proud.
    I hope the next few days aren’t too unbearable for any of you. I wish I could say something to help. Huge hugs xxxx

  8. I’m so, so sorry Vic. It’s a horrible, horrible disease. I too bet your Dad – and your Mum – are so proud of you.

  9. It’s miserable watching someone you love turn to someone you don’t recognize. Been there, done that, have the tear-stained t-shirt. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Thoughts and prayers directed your way.
    Good for you writing the letter. I can’t imagine how hard it was. Hugs to you.

  10. I’m so glad that you gave him that letter. That’s such a beautiful thing to do for you and your father. I’m so sorry that this is all happening x

  11. I don’t do death very well; father, daughter and 23 colleagues departed unexpectedly, owing to a variety of reasons. But I do feel your pain. Believe me. Talk. Because when it’s too late, it’s too fucking late and you’ll never have any chance to do it again. Talk about anything. Just talk.

  12. I’m just so sorry. I’ve got no words for what you’re going through. You and your family are in my thoughts. You’ve got a small army of bloggers in London ready to take you for a drink and a chat if you ever fancy it.

  13. I think the letter idea was a good one, and I’m glad you followed through with it. You will never regret having done that.

  14. Am so very, very sorry. The letter sounds like a wonderful way of communicating everything you wanted to let him know. xxx

  15. Your love and selflessness is very touching and must be a great comfort to your Dad. Wish that it were otherwise for you and your family and, obviously, your Dad.

  16. Best wishes.
    We have just been through this with FIL and there is no “one way” to deal with this, everyone and every family handles dying and death in their own way. I am sure he will receive the care he needs in the hospital, and truth is that he probably won’t really know where he is. Sit with him, hold his hand and tell him you love him. That is what is important and that is what you will remember afterwards.

  17. We have never met and likely never will but my thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

  18. The “Like” button seems such an inappropriate word but I think we are all living your journey through your writing Vicola. That’s why I have clicked on it.

    The idea of writing down your thoughts and having the courage to hand them over is a great idea and one I wish I had know about years ago.

    Best wishes in the continuing drama.

  19. I wish you well. And I know just how pathetic this fruit-fly fart of a sentence is. But it’s honestly all I think i can really do. And I really do.

  20. Bloody hell. That is fucking awful. And kudos to your for having the courage to write it down. I’ve seen cancer kill my best friend (aged 41) and it was just the worst ….. so I totally root for you and your dad and your family. Chin up chick

    • 41? Jesus that’s awful. Cancer is fucking brutal, it takes people down in an unpleasant and vicious way, regardless of how good a person they were. I’m sorry about your friend, 41 is no age at all to die. You and their family must miss them a lot.

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