Most anniversaries are fun, exciting, something to celebrate. This one is not.
Today is the first anniversary of the day that Beautiful B lost her father. The day that she had been dreading since her father had the awful job of telling her that he needed a liver transplant but was so ill that he was unlikely to live long enough to receive a liver as he had 12 months at most.
Today is the first anniversary that she received a phone call at 5.15 in the morning from a nurse explaining that her dad was in A&E and she was needed immediately.
Today is the day that Beautiful B watched helplessly as her dad threw up 2 and ½ litres of his blood and the day that she had the last ever conversation with her dad in which he told her that he loved her. Recalling that conversation is so bitter sweet because he also told her he was scared but she would not be without that memory now because of the words “I love you”.
It is the first anniversary of me answering the phone at 6.01am and Beautiful B telling me she was at the hospital with her dad and was scared. The first anniversary that I said “I’m on my way” as no other words were needed. The day I was walked through A&E to the resuscitation room and could hear my daughters sobs as she stood and watched people try to save her fathers life.
It is the first anniversary of me seeing Tom for the first time and knowing he was not going to make it. The first anniversary of the day I had to take over and call the family, support his girlfriend as she was only 20 and the one who understood that she was hearing what she wanted to hear from the ITU specialists rather than the grave news they were telling us. The first anniversary of when she asked me to talk to the consultants as she wasn’t taking anything in. The day that I watched the vitals monitors and even without any medical training knew that his blood pressure was not supposed to do what it was doing, knowing what to expect when I heard the consultant instruct the ITU nurse to hang another 3 units.
It is the first anniversary that I sat with 3 surgeons and consultants and was told that they couldn’t stabilise my first husband’s blood pressure even with all the adrenaline they were pumping in. The first anniversary of me saying “So you are telling me that he is dying?” Of having to ask the awful question “How long as he got?” The first anniversary of feeling the strange relief that I felt when they said 2 hours as Beautiful B was not going to have to sit there for days watching her father die knowing that I could not have got her to leave and rest. The first anniversary of the day that the consultants made the decision to continue to adrenaline they would normally stop after the family had been informed of the grave outcome just so that Beautiful B had time to say goodbye to her father. The first anniversary that my child sat on a chair with her small hand holding the huge hand of her father with her head on his chest for 8 hours whilst he slowly left.
Tonight will be the first anniversary of the night that I sat behind Beautiful B holding her hand knowing that his heart rate jumping from 45/30 to 220 meant he only had a matter of moments and feeling some relief because he had suffered enough. Watching the pulse in his neck slow down and finally stop and the numbness I felt, the inability to cry because I had to be strong for our daughter. I could only hold Beautiful B as she howled in horror after he had died and watch her as she asked for time on her own to say goodbye to her father’s body.
Yet, all of this pain is nothing compared to what my Beautiful B was going through. My role was to understand the numbness she would feel on leaving the hospital, feel the relief that I got her to leave the hospital so quickly, scared that instead she would not leave her father. My job was, and is, to be there for her, to hold her hand through it all and be strong for her. My role was to take over the role of organising everything with his sister because no 17 year old should be responsible for arranging their father’s funeral.
My role is to now worry incessantly about how she is coping. To know that the first anniversary 4 days ago of her sister’s death, although awful, is nothing compared to the pain she will feel today. To know that Hubby and I cannot give her what she wants, for her dad to give her one last hug and a kiss. To know that she gets a comfort from dreaming about her dad and feel grateful that she isn’t worrying about forgetting what he looked or sounded like.
My role is to stay strong, to be there for her but to give her the space she needs even if she does not know she need it. To be close enough to be here if she needs me but to give her the space she needs to feel the pain and learn how to manage it without my constant support because I am not always going to be here to hold her hand through the awful times.
To sit at work and try not to worry when my heart is screaming at me to hover over her and shadow her just in case she needs her mum as she lays flowers on her father and sister’s grave. To know that she will be crying and that she has to cry and has to feel the injustice and learn how to keep going through it all.
My role is to think and act with my head not wholly with my heart no matter how hard it is and to understand that it is normal to feel guilty. My role is to tell her that I love her and to reassure her that I am not going to leave her; that she isn’t going to lose both of her biological parents. My role is to know that she loves Hubby with all her heart and knows he would never try to take her father’s place and understand the pedestal that she has so rightly put him on since his diagnosis because so much of the past has been hidden from her.
My role is to be the best mum I can be.