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My Dad Died In Front Of Me When I Was 8

by Eno Enefiok
19 April 2013 12 Comments

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.

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.

Other Stories You Might Like…

My Five Dads

Discovering My Dead Dad’s Voice On A Vintage Tape Recorder

My Day With My Dad in a Plastic Bag

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Bunny 9:25 am, 17-Jun-2012

Poignant, heart-breaking, brilliant. It must have been unbelievably hard to write that but I'm very grateful you did. (And The Big C is absolutely superb too, best thing on the telly in yonks)

James Bowker 6:51 pm, 17-Jun-2012

This is the best article ever published on ST by quite a way. Puts it all into perspective when most of us only have to worry about what colour Adidas Samba to buy .

Gayatri Kelford 8:47 pm, 17-Jun-2012

You've told your devastating story so very beautifully, thank you so much for writing it. My Dad passed when I was twelve, and my mother a few years back. Our stories are different and yet I resonated with it on a large scale. Anniversaries are always hard; my Dad died the day before my birthday and for the longest time I couldn't feel justified to celebrate it. The present wrapping is such a lovely idea, and it might sound strange, but I hope that both that and writing this article will been therapeutic for you- I made a book about my experiences for Uni, and while it was one of the hardest things I've done, it was some kind of turning point. Thanks again for this, and much love to you, you are one brave lady. Peace x

Martin Appleby 5:12 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Slightly different, but I can empathsise, Our mum died when I was 10, my brother 8, just before Christmas in 1980, We were sent to a family friend's house for Xmas, and remember the feelings of hatred and disbelief at the world, we've never celebrated it again, losing someone that young will always be there, some people can never understand being in that situation.

Eno Enefioik 5:17 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Thanks for all the kind words! xoxo

domestosgoddess 6:13 pm, 18-Jun-2012

Just lots of love, and a lesson for all parents.

Alan Leishman 12:53 pm, 20-Dec-2012

Poignant and lovely, heart warming and heart breaking in equal parts. A really well written article on a subject that is familiar to me and your writing resonates with me greatly. Thanks for sharing. x

Grisi 6:32 pm, 7-Mar-2013

My dad died when I was 10. I never got to know him. Tomorrow there will be 11 years. ;( I feel so bad. ;(

sad 5:24 pm, 23-Mar-2013

My dad died two years ago. I blame myself for his death because when he was around, I don't have much time for him. I miss him so much. If only I could turn back time..

Beth Kennedy 1:12 pm, 19-Apr-2013

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story- I feel honoured that you have taken the time to tell us all about such a life-changing event. And James- you are right, this is the best article on ST by a long shot. Keep up with buying gifts for your dad- that is such a lovely thought. All my love to you and your family xxx

vual grimoire 7:13 am, 25-May-2013

That's great. Really heart-felt etc. But what if dad was a violent alcoholic twelve-timing asshole that beat his wife and kids and fucked over and ripped off whoever he could?

Katie Laine 9:48 pm, 9-Jul-2013

I'm 12, and my dad died about a month ago. It was terrible. It still hurts.

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