Ever since my mother had died five months ago, my father had become as hard as rock. You could tell that he missed her, even though he didn’t say anything. Through his silence, I could see his distress. My father had always been a man of great pride yet behind this faï¿½ade there was a story of pain and frustration. My mother’s death had led him into depression and this had its own grave consequences. As long as I can remember, I had never known my father to express his feelings and emotions. He was a stern man, whose strict morals and rules would always send a trickle down my spine. We had never had a loving relationship as I had always longed for. However, he was my father, and we shared a bond; I could sense that something was wrong. Recently he had seemed to be letting himself go…
It was evident that he had a drinking problem. Yet no matter how hard I tried, my efforts to encourage him to stay sober always seemed to go in vain. Being his oldest child all the responsibilities fell onto me. I always offered my help yet he always refused. Somehow, I knew that I couldn’t just stand back and watch this catastrophe.
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Three months had passed since my mother had passed away.
It was the 5th December… I still remember that morning as if it were yesterday. This was the first birthday that I would be celebrating without my mother. Now that she was gone, all that remained were memories. A canvas of frost lined the grass that morning, whilst a thick blanket of fog obscured the morning sky. I awoke early, with the thought of my mother lingering on my mind. Hastily, I grabbed my keys and left the house, the biting wind piercing my skin. Tears strolled down my cheeks whilst I walked towards her grave.
“Hi mum.” I stuttered, as I sat beside the flowers laid so perfectly on her grave. “How are you?” I had never before struggled so much to find the right words. I shuffled left and right, uncomfortably, not knowing where to look. “I’m doing well in school; I won the Maths challenge award. Do you also remember how we used to play tennis in the park? Those days are long-gone now. We miss you- dad and I.” Again, I hesitated. “It’s my birthday today… Well you’d know that of course. It’s been a difficult time ever since-” I paused again, starting to feel a choking sensation within my throat. “Dad hasn’t been the same since you left…” Again there was a moment of silence followed by my overwhelming cry of helplessness; I could no longer hold back my tears. I grabbed my bag from off the ground and ran back home, clenching my fists tighter and tighter, angry at the situation I was in.
In an ecstasy of fumbling, I desperately tried to find the key to my door yet my efforts were futile. Tears streaked my cheeks and everything was a blur. Suddenly, the door swung open. I could just about make out a dark figure in the doorway, striding closer and closer towards me. Swiftly, I wiped the tears from my cheeks to see my father, clutching a half-empty bottle in his hand, barely able to stand straight. He looked at me intently and then swaggered towards me, tripping as he walked. Instinctively, I knew what was wrong; he had been drinking again and there was no-one to stop him. Somehow, this time, I knew that it wasn’t going to be alright.
I grabbed my father’s hand, flinging my bag onto the floor and simultaneously slamming the door shut behind me. All previous thoughts had drained out of my head as I frantically tried to sort out the situation. “What have you done dad? Why did you do this?” I kept repeating these words, panic striking my every nerve. Suddenly my father responded, yet I could not make out what he was saying. His words were reduced to inaudible murmurs; his words blended into a single noise, a mere slurring of speech. He looked at me, an expression of desperation, almost fear, on his face. I had never seen him so vulnerable before in my life. Suddenly, within a flash of a second, he collapsed to the floor, silent and still as he struggled to breathe holding his stomach in vain.
My mind escaped my body and a feeling of shock gripped my every limb. Never had I felt so alone and isolated. I got up and walked towards the phone, pressing the three digits that I never hoped I would ever have to press again. It was all so surreal; this had happened to me once before, three painstaking months ago, I wasn’t going to let it happen again.
I took in a deep breath “Hello, ambulance please”, I said without hesitating, constantly reassuring myself that it would be okay.
“Okay, I’m going to need to ask you what the problem is” asked the operator on the other line.
“I need an ambulance, now! It’s an emergency” the phone began to slip from my sweaty palms. “My address is 12 Marsh Road. My father- My father is unconscious. It is serious. You must hurry.” With that, I replaced the phone on the receiver and ran back to the spot where my father was lying. I blanketed him with my affection, reassuring him and myself that everything would be alright. Obsessively, I rocked back and forth, anxiously waiting to hear the all too familiar sound of that siren.
Within minutes there was a flashing of blue and red lights protruding into the house. I ran to the door, faced with a loud thudding from the other side. Hurriedly, I thrust the door open to reveal a clustering of people, medics rushing into the house with a stretcher and passers by watching the uproar of the situation. Never before had I seen my father, the man who I had feared and respected for all these years, look so vulnerable before my very own eyes struggling for his life.
I awoke the next morning to find myself, nestled in a hard, leathery chair. The events of the previous night seemed like a dream. My head was violently pounding as I struggled to sit upright. I looked around me to be faced with reality. Next to me was my father, lying on his high hospital bed, oblivious to his surroundings. As I turned my head, I caught sight of a figure dressed in a white coat. He caught a glimpse of me and began to walk in my direction.
“Are you Mr. Preston’s daughter?” the doctor questioned.
“Yes-” I replied anxiously.
” Doctor Terner” he replied, stretching out his hand to me. I took hold of his hand, shaking it and in chorus lifting myself off the chair.
“Doctor, what’s the problem. He’ll be alright won’t he; it’s just a phase-” I constantly tried to reassure myself yet it my efforts were futile. The doctor glanced at me with an expression of regret, his eyes filled with disappointment.
“Come with me,” his voice was reduced to a whisper. I followed him as he led me to his office. “As you yourself know, your father has had an abundant amount of alcohol. Now this has been a very serious problem of his and I don’t think that he has dealt with it the way he should have done. However, now it is too late.” I held my hand to my mouth, repeating words of reassurance to myself under my breath. The doctor continued, “Your father spent all of last night in the Intensive Care Unit fighting for his life. This last bout of drinking has not been the best thing for his liver.
In fact, it is at the critical stage. I understand that this is a very difficult time for you but I’m sorry. There is nothing else we can do. Why did you not seek advice earlier? These problems can be sorted nowadays, why didn’t you do anything?”
“No, it can’t be” I replied in shock, the words just spilling out of my mouth. Confusion struck me whilst my emotions faded away. “What do you mean you’re sorry. No… there’s nothing to be sorry about because nothing is going to happen! My father is going to wake up and everything will be fine, just like before.”
“Miss Preston, I’m sorry to have to tell you this but your father only has a matter of days to live. His body is in shock and he is in a severe state of coma. Nothing that you, or even I can do, can help him. Only a miracle may save him. It’s just a matter of time.” His words resounded in my head, replaying over and over like a broken record, till eventually, I could bear it no more.
Never before had I felt so small. Once again I watched my life flash before me. It was a site of horror that no child should ever have to cope with. I could not bear the pain of going through this one more time. Memories flooded my mind as I thought back to a few years ago, a time when happiness was all that I knew. Everything was so much simpler then; everything was how it should be. I sunk to the floor, my face enveloped in tears.
I sat on the edge of my father’s bed, looking into his pale, lifeless face. All the years seemed to have vanished as I thought back about the times we shared together. There were so many things that I wanted to say to him, so many wasted opportunities. If only I could turn back time and tell him how much he meant to me, if only I could tell him how much I needed him. I stared into the distance, hoping to find a solution.
All of a sudden, I became aware of an unsympathetic beeping sound, ringing violently in my ears. I looked towards my father, no movement. The beeping grew further apart; a frenzy of fear ran through my body. I knew this sound all too well. I intently looked back at my father, hoping for some progress, yet he lay as still as a statue. I was not prepared to give up, at least not yet. Then, I saw his hand flicker. The smallest movement had given me the greatest amount of hope, causing me to leap of the chair, beckoning any doctor that I could find.
In a state of pandemonium, nurses and doctors rushed into the room to find out what the problem was. The mood was so tense you could cut it with a knife. “He moved! I saw it with my very own eyes!” I exclaimed, a glimmer of hope filling my mind. Yet suddenly, the monitor screen grew dark and the thin green line which separated life and death grew flatter. In a state of emergency, the doctors rushed to my father’s bedside, placing the oxygen mask over his face. I had never been so afraid in my life, so vulnerable, so isolated. This was it, I knew that I had to let go. “I love you Dad, and I’ll miss you! Tell mum I love her as well” The last words faded away into the unforgiving air, as I watched my father’s life slip away, never to return.
Silently, I walked up to his bed and stroked his forehead, kissing him on the cheek for the first yet final time. Tears strolled down my cheek and dropped onto his lifeless, grey hand. He looked so peaceful, as if he were given a sense of release, I looked at him one final time, kissed his hand goodbye and finally let go. As I walked out of the hospital, my eyes heavy with tears and my mind filled with thoughts, I wondered what was in my destiny next.
Surely there was nothing left for me in this world now; I had no-one… Yet why did I feel as if there was something that was waiting for me? My instinct was telling me that life had a lot more in store for me. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out what this was. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out about fate.