A few weeks ago, he slipped and hurt his head. This started a bilateral subarachnoid haemorrhage (essentially, blood filling up into the spaces between his skull and brain on both sides; I keep imagining some sort of spider monster menacing him). The hospital couldn’t operate to drain the blood in the subarachnoid space because of his heart medication, which essentially acted as a really strong blood thinner. Because it was a new drug, they didn’t have an antidote for it, and he had to go on dialysis before they could operate. After the operation, he had a stroke and then he slipped into a coma for two weeks.
I went up to visit him in the hospital almost daily while he was in the ICU. It was odd, seeing him lying there, just like he was asleep on the couch after a bottle of wine. He was snoring and occasionally made little ‘Dad-sounding’ noises. I could touch his arm and it felt warm and alive.
He just didn’t wake up.
Occasionally there were flashes of consciousness. I would shake him (copying the nurses when they did their hourly ‘neuro assessments’ and say ‘Dad, squeeze my hand’ and he did. I thought he might get better, that we still might be able to have Christmas together. All of his visitors got these little signs – a blink of an eye, a clasp of a hand, a twitch of the face. We all thought that this meant that he was going to wake up soon.
But over the weekend he deteriorated and died of pneumonia.
The last time I spoke to him, it was on Father’s Day. Everything was fine, he said. He was excited about his new business. He was looking forward to my visit in early October.
I wish I’d spent longer talking to him, I wish a thousand and one other things right now, but what’s very clear is that I miss him and wished he had stayed around for longer.
I’ll miss you, Dad.