Leesha remembers…

Hi Readers!

As I mentioned earlier, my dad passed away last September. It was a traumatic whirlwind of emotions that I have still not fully grasped.

His passing correlated with moments that, on their own, were emotionally charged; first solo backpacking trip, first graduate job.

I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I struggled greatly, and still sometimes do.

This week I was scrolling through my phone and found a piece I had written at the peak of my despair. I don’t pretend to be a poet, but at that time, as I struggled with my depression and an unpleasant bout of mutism, writing the below was the only way I felt able to communicate my feelings.

Writing this out again feels like a second cleansing. As I read this, it reminds me of just how much my family has been through and puts my feelings into perspective. I am giving myself permission to grieve, to break, to pause, knowing that by the grace of God, I will keep moving forward.

Give yourself permission to grieve, to break, to pause… then keep moving forward.

“From May to September I sat at my father’s bedside as he was dying of cancer.
First in a hospital and then in our home.
In our front room.
I fed and changed my father.
Watched as he wasted away.
When he was too weak I physically moved him.
Lifted him to try and give him comfort.
I still worked in that time.
I went to work and I was pleasant.
Funny.
Flirty.
Charming.
I came back home and injected medicine into my fathers intestines.
I tried to feed him.
A 54 year old man.
My 54 year old man.

I tried to feed him like a baby.
He didn’t want to eat.
The medicines has changed his taste buds.
Nothing was like his memories.
The cancer was in his stomach.
He never felt hungry.
So I tried to feed him.
Coerce him.
I fed him and I stood by his head with a jug and collected his vomit.
Litres of vomit.
Bile.
Blood.
Cancer?
All documented religiously.
“12.45pm – 100mls – red, like cells”
I changed him.
Turned him.
Fed him.
Collected his vomit.
And went back to work.
Then I started at Deloitte.
My dream job.
The end of my 5 year plan.
I went to work every day and smiled.
And laughed.
And networked.
And made friends.
I asked insightful questions.
I made myself memorable.
And I went home to care for my Dad.
Then came the AIP.
10 days away from home.
“Make a good impression” they said.
“These are your new colleagues.”
“Your new bosses”
“Always be impressive.”
“They are always watching.”
“These people will choose you.”
“Or not.”
So I sit.
And I listen.
And I ask.
And I answer.
I’m polite.
I’m well mannered.
I’m exhausted.
I’m depressed.
I phone home.
I ask about Dad.
He’s mostly sleeping now.
Too tired to hide his meds.
His tube is oozing.
The nurses haven’t taken a sample.
It’s been a week.
No time to worry.
Back to work.
This is important.
This is your career.
Do well.
My table is winning.
Don’t let them down.
Make a mistake.
Apologise.
Was it my fault?
“It doesn’t matter.”
She’s important.
More important than you.
Do what she says.
Watch her glares.
Brush them off.
Be brilliant again.
Time the presentation.
Use your phone.
“If they let my brother die…”
Who?
What’s happening?
Stay professional.
Your table could win.
Don’t let them down.
Excuse yourself.
Mum.
Please answer.
“The infection…”
I know.
Aunty told me.
He’s in hospital?
How long?
Why didn’t she say?
Should I go home?
He’s going to die.
I can feel it.
Go back.
Finish the presentation.
Try to celebrate.
Fail.
Dress up for the ball.
Take a photo for Dad.
Try to have fun.
Fail.

The photo I took for my father
The picture I took for my father… he never got to see it

Try to network.
Get shoved out the way.
“He’s drunk” they say.
“But it’s fine.”
“He’s the best at his job.”
Mum calls.
“I don’t want you to leave your ball…”
“I want you to have fun.”
“But I don’t know how long he has.”
“Finish the ball but come home straight after.”
I sleep in the taxi.
Get home too early.
Mum isn’t expecting me.
Why didn’t the taxi take me to the hospital?
I’m too tired to think.
“Wake me up when it’s time to leave.”
10am.
Why so late?
“He’s gone.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Last night.”
“You missed it.”
I carry on in a blur.
Don’t be different.
Don’t make them feel sorry for you.
Don’t tell.
Take your exams.
Plan the funeral.
Keep the peace.
2 days compassionate leave.
1 week away.
Finally alone.
Me, mum and the boys.
Our new normal.
Back home.
Back to work.
Make sure you impress.
Be OK.
Why aren’t I OK?
I need to be brilliant again.
Make Dad proud.
Help the family.
Pay the bills.
Relate to friends.
Go out.
Socialise.
Network.
Don’t be forgotten.
And so I do.
I carry on.
I assimilate.
Sometime’s I’m happy.
But sometimes I have a hole in my soul.
I fear it will never heal.
I have to heal.
I need to be strong.
For everyone else.”

A year has passed since I wrote this and some things have changed.

I still get sad, but the happiness comes more frequently.

I no longer fear the hole in my soul will never heal. It is healing. Very slowly.

I also know now that I need to be strong for myself before I am strong for everyone else.

Self care isn’t just important, it’s vital.

I hope all of you reading this (well done if you got this far!) learn to accept your sadness, no matter what size, no matter what reason.

Acknowledge it, move forward and prioritise your self care.

God bless x

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