Last night, I went to see my Dad in hospital.
After what feels like weeks of living in limbo not knowing what was wrong with him, it appears he has hepatitis brought on by a clash of the drugs he was taking for various health conditions.
Until a month ago, I had never visited anyone in hospital. It all feels quite surreal. I walk through the hospital and it is like I am playing a part in a film. This can’t be right. How did we get here?
Dad has worsened. I find him in ill-fitting hospital pyjamas. This is not good enough for a man who remains ever so smart even at the age of 85.
He has tubes now to feed him as his appetite has disappeared.
He can talk and seems lucid and humorous on occasion but you know in your gut, that he must be scared and you wish you could make it better for him but you can’t work out the right words to say.
So you babble on inanely and try to avoid looking at him until he somehow catches your eye and is still Dad even if he is now yellow, losing weight fast and in a bad way.
You are such a big kid even at the grand old age of 43 that you daren’t ask the efficient hospital staff about his prognosis or get in their way at all. You feel like you have no status whatsoever and yet here is the man you love with all your heart.
You go with him for his X-ray. You see a child on a stretcher and you imagine what that child’s parent must be going through. Being over-analytical, you try to work out which is worse.
You are not stupid. You see the shocked and sympathetic stares of strangers as Dad is wheeled through hospital corridors.
On the way in and on exiting, you see the Bereavement Services Department. It haunts you.
You chatter on to Dad about the Olympics and news stories. He tells you about his fall in the toilet that morning. Your heart sinks again.
When you leave, you give Dad a letter written on pink paper with butterflies on. A little girl’s choice. In it, you have said exactly how much you love, value and appreciate him for all he has done. This is the man who took on someone else’s child when he could have taken an easier path. This is your Dad.
You tell him he is not allowed to read it till you leave. You imagine it will prompt tears from him but you cannot let him go anywhere without knowing how very special he is to you.
You go home aware you are being that much more irritable with your husband and children. Finally, when they are all fast asleep, you sob.
Dad may come back from this. We just don’t know. They are doing all they can and we are living one day at a time.