I haven't been able to say what's going on because who am I to narrate a mans death?
It took over five hundred years to build Rome. A fire broke out on the night of July 18, 64 AD. The flames spread quickly in the summer winds, consuming everything in its path for six days and seven nights. What remained of the city lay in smouldering ruins. (I just sat here for a few stunned seconds, looking at that date.)
For twenty-six days my mothers beautiful husband has lain in a hospital bed. Aggressive and unrelenting pancreatic cancer ravaging his body so fast we are all reeling in its wake. He is a dearly loved, gentle, peaceful man. Pretty sure he has not one enemy. His grounding influence on my mother and our family is quiet and ever-present, to this very day.
We are all painfully letting go and waiting a most terrible wait. Have you ever waited for somebody you love to die? Some of you probably have. This all gets played out around the world every day. People die, people are born, and all that's in between.
My mother. She is extraordinary. Sleeping at the hospital right next to him. All of his tubes are out, the doctors told us last week there is nothing they can do for him, for us. My sisters and I have all been taking it in turns to be there. Last week my brother was there too, and there was a moment in the waiting room when it was just us five and we were the strongest we'd ever been, all together.
The day my real father died, a policeman came to the door to tell us. The day our (first) stepfather died, a policeman came to the door to tell us. Our family is used to shocking, sudden, tragic deaths. I've never held the hand of a person who knows he is dying before.
It's extraordinary, inexplicable, moving, haunting, sacred, sad.
My mum asked me last night if I could write a short post about this so I dove straight into bed at 7.30pm. I couldn't do it, would prefer instead to fly to the moon and fashion a fake-half crescent using some white cardboard and sticky tape. IT'S STILL HERE MUM, SEE? She is asking everybody she knows to please hold Jim in their hearts as he leaves us. To help him leave us. I posted the other week about what's happening, so many people gave a lot of support, still in the hope that Jim will be ok.
He's ok, just not in the way we thought he was going to be ok. You reading these words right now is a silent acknowledgement of what's happening in my family and I thank you for that, for seeing that he needs to let go now.
So this is our terrible but beautiful truth. So many people have been in to see Jim and say goodbye, and tell him what he has meant to them. Done for them. A lot. Who knew.
Last week Jim asked if he could go home just for an hour, to say goodbye to his stuff. That's all he wanted, a simple request. Couldn't. Too sick. He's now slipping in and out of confusion and memory. Mum next to him every night holding his hand, whispering him words, a candle lit. I can't believe he is going. I can't believe he is still here. Mum has late-night text marathons with her three wildly inappropriate daughters who make her laugh. A balloon was punched, right in the room with Jim. I hated that balloon. It's slowly deflating. Linda came out of the bathroom at the hospital last week holding her latex-gloved hands out like the heart doctor she truly is, mouthing the word, SCALPEL!
I filmed it, and we watched it over and over and sent it to Leigh who was at work and text back ... "Are you RIGHT!?"
I slept in mums bed for the first time since I was five years old.
I'm home now, so is my brother and one sister. Going to sleep every night holding our phones, waiting and waiting. I feel frightened by what's happening. Sometimes no amount of tattoos or tough is enough. I wonder if Jim is scared. I think I would be. I keep breathing loudly to make sure I still can. Yesterday on the phone I heard Max to his friend: "No, you can't come over for a play. My mum is waiting for her dad to die." I love that he said that. It's the truth.
My sisters, my mother, brother and I will never be the same again. Again. We got to tell Jim how much he has done for us, thanked him for putting up with our crap over the years. We were all pretty broken when he came into our family twenty-two years ago. He listened, and said slowly and deliberately:
"I hope you don't get so far away from each other ... that you can't find your way back to each other again."
We really love you Jim. That's all there is to it.