My Dad Died In Front Of Me When I Was 8

It's so easy to slip into clichés, but don't take today for granted, losing a parent is one of the hardest things that will ever happen to you.
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It's so easy to slip into clichés, but don't take today for granted, losing a parent is one of the hardest things that will ever happen to you.

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Father’s day, a day dedicated to the men who have fathered children and then raised them, making sure to be there for them whenever they were needed come rain or shine. Some take this day for granted, some even forget about it until the very day and make up for it by text, a card or a tacky corner shop gift. For me, I wish I had the luxury of taking my father for granted.

I always feel the most depressed when this day comes around, suddenly I am reminded that everyone but me has a father. Everyone but me didn’t have to lose their father before they were old enough to really know them.

My fathered died in front of myself and my brother when I was eight and he was six. It happened two days before my mother’s birthday. That morning my father showed my brother and I an expensive bracelet that he planned on giving to my mother on her special day. My older sister was at boarding school so we travelled down to visit her later that day to have a picnic, none of us knew at the time that it would be the last meal we would ever share together.

That evening my mother woke my brother and I up, saying that something was wrong with our father. We rushed to our parent’s bedroom and found my father motionless on the floor. My mother was in tears, praying and reciting, “please don’t die, please don’t die, I can’t look after these children on my own,” over and over again. My brother and I just start next to my dead father holding each other, confused by the entire situation. Within a few moments, my parent’s bedroom was filled with neighbours and concerned strangers who tirelessly tried to revive my father and calm my mother down.

I wasn’t a child anymore, I was an older sister who had to comfort her little brother, after all out of all my siblings, he shared the least amount of time with my father and he was a boy, a boy needs a father.

My mother lied to my brother and I and told us that my father was in the hospital, and that he was okay, and that the doctors were keeping him there for observations. My mum then shipped my brother and I off to my aunt’s because she just couldn’t cope with us around.

Months later, a few weeks before Christmas to be exact, my mother came to visit my brother and I, it was the first time we had seen her since the incident. She couldn’t lie to us anymore so she told us the truth. My father was dead. He had been dead all along and the funeral had already happened without us.

The news destroyed a part of my brother and I, suddenly I wasn’t a child anymore, I was an older sister who had to comfort her little brother, after all out of all my siblings, he shared the least amount of time with my father and he was a boy, a boy needs a father. My mother told us not to tell my sister who was still as boarding school blissfully unaware.

My father’s death haunted all of us, I remember finding a picture of my dead father in his coffin amongst my mother’s belongings. He looked the same but different, fragile and slightly decomposed.

For years I couldn’t get the image of the man who gave me life dead in a box out of my head. I began to blame myself for his death and over time, I convinced myself that I murdered him by existing.

The only way to cope was to put everything in a box and distance myself from my family and my emotions. This worked for a while but eventually boxing everything up caught up with me. I tried to commit suicide when I was sixteen and then again when I was eighteen.

The thing I forgot was that my father’s death didn’t just affect me, it affected my sister, my brother and especially my mother who did everything within her power to shelter us from the pain my father’s death caused.

The thing my mum didn’t realise was that not talking about my father, telling us about the type of person he was or even hanging pictures of him in the house was killing us. The only things I know about my father was that he worked in oil, he had a degree in estate surveying, he was tall (a trait of his that I inherited), he could cook (I remember him cooking only once, it was porridge and to date it was the best meal I have ever had), and that he had been to Paris (I once found a picture of him stood in front of the Eiffel tower in a family album and kept in, I plan to visit that very spot one day).

I don’t know if he was funny or a lad’s lad, what his favourite meal was, what his favourite colour was, and other trivial things that people should know about their parents, I don’t even know the kind of relationship we would have now that I am an adult.

Instead of sitting in a dark room and feeling sorry for my half orphan self, I am going to buy my father a gift, something that I think he would like, though I am still unsure what it will be.

My mother lost her father a year or so ago, it was only then that she began to comprehend the pain losing a parent has on a child. She realised that a husband can be replaced but a father can’t.

In the season finale of the first season of The Big C, Cathy’s (Laura Linney) son Adam stumbles upon a key to a storage locker that is filled with gifts for his future birthdays, holidays and major events in his life, this is when he finally processes the fact that his mother isn’t going to be around for a long time.

This episode reduced me to tears and inspired me - although I didn’t know what it was inspiring me to do until now. Instead of sitting in a dark room and feeling sorry for my half orphan self, I am going to buy my father a gift, something that I think he would like, though I am still unsure what it will be. I’m going to wrap it up and store it away somewhere. I’m going to do this on every father’s day from now on for rest of my life in the hopes that when I finally meet my father again, I can present him with his gifts.

It’s going to be strange, I have no recollection of ever celebrating father’s day but I look forward to wrapping my father’s present, although I will not be able to present him with it, like he was never able to present my mother with her bracelet, lord knows what happened to that bracelet, but I’m still excited about the thought of celebrating my father for the first time in a long time.

To all the father’s out there, I’d like to say a huge happy father’s day to you. Sorry about this terrible weather we’ve been having lately, enjoy your children and let them enjoy you for as long as they can. Love, someone’s daughter.

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