It’s March 5th 2018. Surprisingly, the sun is shining, just a day ago, everywhere was covered in bright white snow and glittering frost. But today there is light outside.
I wake joyfully and start getting the children ready for school. Eloise complains of a tummy ache and begs for a day off school. This is rare that she would request such a thing but something tells me I might need her today so I let her stay home.
After taking Jordan and Charlie to school I get home and I’m motivated to crack on with a task I’ve been procrastinating over for some time. Sorting our finances. I start by going through our bank statements and cancelling unnecessary things such as beauty subscription boxes and Xbox live bundles. Then the phone rings. It’s my dad.
“Hi dad. What’s wrong?”
He sounded out of breath and a bit sleepy, which wasn’t unusual as he had suffered with COPD and heart failure for quite some time and I knew he had a chest infection.
“David said I collapsed last night in my wheelchair. I don’t remember anything, I’m alright, just really tired”
As always, I tried to encourage dad to call his nurse to give him a check over or at least just have a word with a doctor to let them know he’s collapsed in the night. But he wasn’t having any of it
“No, I’m alright, I don’t want anyone to come out yet, I’m really tired I just want to go to bed. I’ll call them later if I feel like it”
That was dad all over, as stubborn as they come. He hated to burden people unnecessarily, even his medical team whose job it was to look after him. It was always “I’ll call tomorrow if I still feel bad” he never did call them. He’d always get over it with the use of meds and sleep. Or, failing that, he’d end up in hospital.
Then he asked if I needed anything. He was always making sure I was ok. And he knew we had been chasing invoices for two weeks. He’d often get my brother to pick some milk up for me and drop it off, as my house was on the way to the shop. I didn’t need anything on this day. But for some reason I knew it was important that my brother didn’t leave dads house
“No dad, I don’t need anything. David should stay with you. Don’t make him go out anywhere unless he absolutely has to”
He told me he was going to sleep and I said I’d call him in a few hours to see how he was.
“Love you loads, dad. Take care and get some rest”
That was the last time I ever spoke to him. The events that followed will stay with me forever.
It was now 12pm. Edward was getting cranky so he took himself off to sleep on the couch. I was getting tired from crunching numbers all morning. I told myself I’d finish the finances later but then something came over me that made me finish them. It was 1pm when I had finally sorted everything. Then I’d rewrote my list of things to do, crossing off what I’d already managed to complete. Life insurance had never occurred to me before but I put that right at the top, “sort life insurance”.
I put away the paper work and started on the housework. Then my mobile rang. It was dads house phone. I thought it strange as he always called my home number. The house phone was right next to me, so I knew I hadn’t missed a call.
All I heard were whimpering cry’s and words like ambulance and CPR and heart.
“Hold on a minute dad, I’ll call you back on the house phone, I can’t hear you”
I called his house phone but again all I could hear was crying
“Dads stopped breathing, the paramedics are doing CPR, he’s not breathing, I think he’s dead…..”
It was David, my brother. He said dad had woken up, threw up and then collapsed. He called the ambulance straight away and they’d been doing CPR for the past 5 minutes.
I remember the pain that shot through my heart as I crumbled to the floor and screamed “no!!! Not my DAD!”
I couldn’t believe what was happening, it was now 2:15pm, I’d spoken to him a couple of hours ago. This can’t be real.
“I can’t get there, Dave! I don’t know what to do! What’s happening? What’s going on???!!!”
I felt completely helpless. I was stuck in the house with two children and no transport. I called Tom and screamed at him to come home. The boys would need picking up from school soon, I couldn’t leave. I was trapped with no where to go. All I wanted was to get to my dad.
Half an hour passed before Toms mom and brother got to me. During this time I was frantically trying to clean the house, get my thoughts together, I was crying and screaming, the pit of my stomach hurt so much, I couldn’t breathe. I kept calling David, who said CPR was still on going. I hung up, I called back, I hung up again. I knew what had happened. Something deep within me knew this was it, he was gone. There was no coming back from it this time.
Toms brother took me to dads just as the ambulance started to leave. It was too late. David said they were taking him to Worcester and that they didn’t know what had happened to him. I tried to remain calm. I gathered dads important things such as his wallet, house keys and his false teeth that he’d left on the side.
But something was strange about this house now. Something wasn’t quite right and I knew it. Dad was gone. Forever.
As Toms brother took me home I called him to see how long he’d be coming home from work. He said he’d be a couple of hours due to drive time. I went home. Cooked dinner for the children and got them bathed and ready for bed. My head was a complete mess. I called my grand parents to let them know what was happening, trying to remain as calmed and composed as possible. But I think they knew it too. This was the final time I’d be calling them to say dad had been taken to hospital.
Tom arrived home around 5pm. I collapsed in his arms as I tried to control my trembling body. I tried to scream but no sound came out, just the pain from my breaking heart. Tom got me to the hospital a little after 6pm where we were taken to a quite side room in A&E. I’d never been in this room before. The lights were warm and dim. A box of tissues on the small coffee table with pamphlets underneath that I’m certain were about bereavement. I knew what this room meant.
The doctor came into the room followed by a nurse. I’ll never forget the look on her face, she knew I too was about to have that similar look. Red eyes from crying, a feeling of nothing else can be done.
“Miss Webster, do you know what has happened today?”
The doctor took my hand but was barely looking at me. Yes I knew what happened today and I knew what he was about to say next.
“When your dad came to us, his heart had stopped beating, the paramedics preformed CPR as best they could and we continued that here. We did get a glimmer of a beat back but, I’m really sorry, we couldn’t get his heart going again. I’m so very sorry…”
Hearing those words, even though I’d known my dads fate for the past 3 hours, hurt the very depths of my soul. My own heart, beat so fast I thought it was going to explode from my chest. My stomach tightened in a thousand tight knots, leaving me breathless and shaking uncontrollably. I screamed out loud, clutching at Tom. Begging him to tell the doctor he was wrong.
I calmed myself down. And asked if it was a heart attack. The doctor wasn’t sure. But he said
” I truly am sorry. Whatever it was, was very quick. He wouldn’t have suffered any pain. It seems it was almost instant. And I believe even if we would have got his heart beating again after all that time, he wouldn’t have had any quality of life, he most certainly would have been brain damaged. Please take comfort knowing he died very peacefully”
The doctor left the room. The nurse shared her grief and sadness then asked if I would like to see him. Of course I did. But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.
My dear old dad lay on the table, mouth open because he didn’t have his false teeth in. He looked quite yellow and yet pale. But he wasn’t cold. He still had a warmth to his gentle touch. His hands felt softer than they were before. His eyes were closed and for the first time in a long while, he was sleeping soundly. For a moment I kept thinking I could feel his chest move. Or maybe that was just hope. I placed my hand where his heart should still be beating and I felt a sense of peace there, his big brave heart that had fought so long and hard had finally beaten it’s last song. It did well, my dads heart, it kept him going through so much. Long enough at least for me to speak to him one last time this morning.
I screamed at Tom that he didn’t see me get married, that he didn’t know I was happy. That I wasn’t there enough for him, I cried that now he has gone, I’m all alone. I have no one. I felt so empty, so lost, so very broken.
But I also knew dad was now, finally at peace. He is sleeping now, at rest. All that pain and suffering is over. And maybe now he can find some peace.
I gathered my thoughts. Composed myself and spoke to the nurse who told me what to do next as she handed me a booklet about what to do after a death. My mom lived only around the corner from the hospital so I thought it best to tell her in person what had happened. She and dad had been divorced for 26 years but they still spoke on the phone regularly.
I turned up at her house, tears still streaming down my face when she and her partner pulled up behind toms van. She must have known why I was there. We got inside and I told her
“Dads dead. He died, he’s gone”
She cried. As shock took hold of her. We sat for half an hour as I explained what happened. Then we got home. Eloise was waiting at the front door, I’m sure she knew this was it this time. This wasn’t a case of me going to see her granddad in hospital to make sure he was alright. This was the end. This was time she had dreaded for so long, the time that I would come home and say that he was gone.
I walked with her up the stairs to see Jordan. He looked at me and I simply shuck my head. They knew. Eloise collapsed on the floor, screaming with the same inner pain that I felt. Jordan took a moment for it to sink in what I meant. Then he too, broke down and crumbled. The three of us sat in a heap on the boys bedroom floor, crying and screaming and hoping this was all just a bad dream. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces as they realised their beloved granddad would no longer be here. They loved him so very much. As he loved them.
I’ll remember this day forever, March 5th, 2018. As the day we lost one of earths greatest men. My dad. A true gent, an inspiration, a man with a heart so big and a love so strong. I lost my hero today. But heaven gained a true and pure angel.
Richard John Webster
March 7th, 1950 – March 5th, 2018
May you finally find peace, at last.
***For my birthday this year instead of asking for gifts, I've set up a Facebook fundraiser in my dads memory to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation - You can find the fundraiser page HERE the fundraiser will remain open until October 31st 2018.***