My father smiling at me, Spring 2008
I'm sorry I've been silent for a few weeks, but I've had a bit of a rough time. My brother and I had our father rushed to the hospital on the evening of Wednesday, January 23rd after I called him around 6:00 P.M. and he did not sound well at all. My brother came to get me and we drove out to our father's place (about a half hour away). I rode in the ambulance with him to the local hospital, but his condition was too serious for them to handle, so they transferred him to the ICU at the Montreal General Hospital around Midnight. His condition stabilized a bit during the day on Thursday the 24th, but he started going downhill on Friday the 29th and never recovered. My father passed away a bit before 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday, January 29th. He was only 58 and left my brother and I, our mother, our grandparents who are 81 and 86, our aunt and uncle and many, cousins, extended family members, friends and former colleagues utterly heartbroken.
I will not into go into the physical details of what exactly caused my father's death, but as you all know he was battling severe depression and had been for some time. He fought and fought and fought, but in the end it was just too much for him to even be able to get out of bed and eat properly. None of us had seen him smile or heard him laugh and joke since October. He had become so deeply unhappy, so despondent.
My father was an exceptional man. He was extremely intelligent and passionate about his work and sports. He was a perfectionist in everything he did. He was a natural athlete and loved cycling and curling. He was also a foodie and loved trying new foods any time he could. He loved being near water whether it was fishing out on a lake or being near the ocean. I think he had a slight preference for the ocean though, just like me. He also loved photography, especially when travelling. Finally, even though he didn't have the easiest time showing it, I know that he absolutely adored my brother and I. He had an easier time displaying his attachment to my brother because they had more obvious points in common, but I know that he had a very special place in his heart for me and I will forever cherish the fact that out of all the people who visited him in the hospital when he was ill this past summer, I was the only one he spent hours and hours alone with. I was also the last one to spend time alone with my Father when he was conscious that Wednesday night we had to bring him to the hospital.
We held my father's funeral and burial this week along with a day of visitation and I cannot begin to express how touched I was so see so many people come out to pay their respects to my father. Literally hundreds of people came either to the funeral home or to the funeral service at the church. My father touched so many people during his life, I really had no idea how many.
I'm now trying to get back to some sense of normalcy in my life, but it won't be easy. Yesterday I felt pretty good, but today I've been feeling more down. Things will undoubtedly get easier once my Sweetheart finally gets home in 10 days. Everything with my father happened so quickly that he was not able to make it home in time as the village where he is working in Haiti is so incredibly remote. We have been talking a lot though (he climbs up onto the roof of the house he and E are staying in so he can get a half decent signal on his decrepit Haitian cell phone so we can talk) and he is now purposely coming home on my birthday because he knows that it will not be easy for me to celebrate it without my father.
I will try and keep up some fairly regular posts, but things may be slow for a little while as I get my feet back under me.
Thank you all for your support while my father was unwell. All the advice I can give you if someone you care for is suffering from mental illness of any kind is to not give up on them for one second, always let them know you love them, never judge them and do everything you can to help them while keeping in mind that you must also be kind to yourself. Also, always remember that the first step someone suffering from mental illness must take if there is to be any hope of their getting better is acknowledging their condition and asking for help. My father was never fully able to do this and we were therefore very limited in what we could do for him. He wanted to get well on his own and never realized just how much danger he was in, not even at the very end. In a way, I take great comfort in that fact. My father did not know he was dying, not even while we were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, not even once we were at the hospital. He was not afraid, he did not suffer, I don't even think he felt any pain. They gave him some Valium so they could run some tests on him and he fell asleep and never woke up. I'm glad he went so peacefully, so very glad. Never, ever blame yourself if this sort of thing happens to you. It is not your fault, it is not anyone's fault.