Thursday, March 7, 2013

Being strong for you

I want you to know that I was strong and I think that wherever you are; you know that.

In August last year when the doctors discovered melanoma cells in your lung fluid I knew that all our lives would never be the same. We were heartbroken because you had finally been given a date for your heart surgery which meant your hip replacement could follow. The melanoma diagnosis meant that none of these restorative operations could take place.

I knew that week, that I would write your life story with you, and I read it at your service. I finally realised that this was my time to honour you. We were told to plan for a month and if we got more; that would be a bonus.

After that first month I got complacent and stopped making notes for your life story. I should have kept writing things down. You told me so many stories about your life that I did not know and showed me the 100’s of pages of writing about your life. I knew I would use some of these stories.

I wish I had spent more time with you in the months leading up to your death. What I have realised that the worst thing about sudden death is regret. I believe that regret comes from feeling like you did not spend enough time with that person or say the things that you wanted to say or even love them enough. At least we had some time with you to celebrate your life.

I was not there when you passed away and I only missed your last breath by about 2 minutes. For a brief moment I felt regret and then Mark said that perhaps you had not wanted me to see you slip away. I think Mark is right.

That first night I managed to phone a lot of people to let them know that you had died. I did not cry. Then we started to organise your funeral as we had mere days to get things sorted. I am glad that I went and saw funeral homes when you were still alive as it made it slightly easier. We chose photos, readings, music, a celebrant, and flowers and somehow managed to pull everything together.

We were able to spend time with you the day before the funeral and I realised that while you looked ‘at peace’ you did not look like the ‘you’. I held your hands as they were the same and felt comforted.

I still had not really written your life story.

The day before the funeral I was starting to get a bit stressed. I am a procrastinator and I could not believe that I had not really started writing and also that I had not written it with you. That evening I started to feel ridiculous sick (it was possibly stress and sugar-overload) and had to have a sleep. I got up and still felt terrible and Mark told me that I had to write for an hour; which I did. Then I read the life story and knew that it was not even close to being finished. Suffice to say we were still writing/re-writing and proofing in the morning.

At your funeral when I stood to speak I did not know how it would go. I dug deep into my heart and soul and found the strength. I think I spoke with conviction, with strength and I honoured your life. I did not cry. The moment I started to waiver I looked to Mark for strength; he was crying. I turned and looked to my mother and she was smiling and she gave me the strength to continue.

On the night of the funeral, when I was alone in the dark my strength fell away. I held your photo close and wept until sleep finally found me. The following night I curled up with your jersey that still smelt of you and had your hair on it and wept some more. The cats curled around me to lend their warmth and support.
The other day when I was really struggling emotionally during a walk and felt that I wanted to just flop down on the ground and continue bawling I thought about you and then I dug deep to find the strength to continue. I did just that and then unbelievably it rained. So I guess for me the rain that day was like you being there giving me strength to push through the emotional wall. Neither of us subscribe to a religion so I will choose to believe that you are all around me in nature; supporting me on the rest of my journey through life.

There were people that kept me sane when you got sick and then when you died. Mark, Rachel and Julia put up with me when I was ranting about things. They kept their cool until I got a grip and could see clearly. Other close friends added their strength and also the MotivateMe NZ women were amazing without even knowing how much support they gave me during this time; they need a separate blog.

I have refrained from writing this out of respect for you and our family during the last 6 months. It was really tough as I am a writer and writing is how I process things that I am dealing with.

I miss you every day. I miss your voice. I miss your touch. I miss your strength and courage. I feel like a huge part of heart has been ripped out and will never been replaced.

I read this blog the other day, it is amazing and it made me think of you. 

This is the Hollie Smith’s song ‘Bathe in the River’ is one that I wanted played at your funeral, however we chose music you loved instead.

My father was a loving man with an adventurous spirit and a brave heart.


  1. Then you are your fathers daughter.
    One day, someone will write a piece like this about you Ness.

    You are an amazing woman. You are strong beyond belief. I hope you have the time and support you need. I am so sorry for your loss.
    All my love, tara

    1. thanks honey. I definitely am my father's daughter. I thought that I stood up to read his life story. For the first time in my life I could honour him as he had done for me and so many others during his life.

      He lived a full, amazing life. :)


  2. I am so sorry for your loss. My deepest condolences. I am so sorry I didn't know. You are amazing. You have nothing to regret - I promise you that. When my husband's brother passed away from melanoma, it was hard to write his life story. We felt like we carried HIS regrets and it was hard to deal with. It's hard to find peace after a death from cancer. Your father sounds like someone whose life can be celebrated fully and open heartedly - you should be so proud of him and so proud of yourself. Biggest hugs and lots of love.

    1. Thanks Kez. Don't be sorry. I stopped talking about it for a while.

      I understand what you mean about carrying your brother-in-law's regrets...especially as I guess he was a lot younger than my dad.

      The good thing for me/us is that my dad lived a full life. He's documented most of it and I cannot wait to read through it all.

      xxx Love Ness

  3. I started reading this at work today and had to stop because I was crying so much. You are such an incredible woman. I dread this day with all my being, even though I am lucky to have my amazing dad alive and well. I could never do what you did for your dad - I have already nominated my brother for that job as he will do it perfectly, but I plan to sit somewhere down the back sobbing hysterically. You have strength that I simply cannot imagine. How proud your whole family must be of you.

    1. Thanks :)

      I think I made a lot of people cry yesterday. My friend didn't even make it past the first sentence. I cry a lot although it is mostly in private as I bawl and my nose runs.

      I know what you mean about dreading it. I felt sick to my stomach about it. I will say....spend the time with your dad as time passes so quickly.

      I think my family think I am NUTS. :)

  4. This was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    I think your Dad did know how much you loved him. I will never forget him, even though I only met him once. When I mentioned that I knew you, his whole face transformed and lit up. Even though it was the middle of the night and he was so sick and hadn't slept - he seriously was glowing when he spoke of you, 'his beautiful beautiful girl' (his words). He was SO proud to be your Dad, and I have no doubt that he loved you so much.

    Been thinking of you, lots. xx

    1. Oh honey. Thank you.

      I cannot even express how I feel about your comment. It made me choke up as I tried to read it out loud to Mark last night.

      In the brief moments that you spent with my dad you've summed him completely. He was such a special person.



  5. <3 It is so incredibly hard to lose someone who has been a constant your entire life. Even harder to get up and speak about what they meant to you. You're awesome, Ness. xoxo

    1. I have never really lost anyone close. To be fair...I didn't know how I would react. He was so lovely. There is so much I wish I had asked and told him. So now I tell him little bits when I am on my own :) xx

  6. Sending you big love and hugs Ness. Losing a parent is one of the hardest things in life and so is being able to articulate the extent of your feelings for them - so well done! Continue to talk to him, I rest easy in the feeling that my mum is never very 'far' from me xxx

    1. Thanks Robyn :)

      I know what you mean about feeling that your mum is never very 'far' from you. I feel my dad around me a lot. It is comforting.