Losing a parent so young is not something I ever could have imagined to have occurred in my life. As each year goes by without him here, I continue to feel a hole in my heart, but the more I open myself to spirit, the more he reveals himself to me in my life today. I feel his presence almost everywhere. He sends little signs from up above guiding me and encouraging me on my path. The cancer ravaged his body until he was whittled down to skin and bone. To see my Dad go from a healthy, strong independent man, to a shell of his former self, was one of the most painful and confronting things I had witnessed in my life.
As some of you may know, last week I scattered my beloved Dad's ashes. A few days later I felt the call to open a draft blog post on Grief and to finish the story. What I have now come to understand is that I needed to wait to share this until I had had my own personal sense of completion. And that to me happened last Wednesday at St Kilda Beach.
I want to thank each and every one of you who sent me the most heartfelt messages of love and support on my post last Wednesday. I received emails and private messages from women of all walks of life saying they had recently lost someone. All this from one Instagram post! And that is the power of social media my friends, it builds community when it is used in the right way.
One hot afternoon in the Summer of March 2004, my Mum came home with a look on her face that I will never forget. She was white, like she had seen a ghost.... It was in that moment that I knew something was desperately wrong. My memory is a bit hazy of that time, but I remember asking her what was wrong and all she could mutter were the words, "It's not good darling, Dad."
I burst into tears as she told me that they found cancer and he needed to have surgery. We were hopeful of a positive outcome. Dad had one of the best Sydney surgeons and was going to get better. He had to.
It was a long road to recovery. He had a great sense of humour and he was always writing things down to keep him motivated to look on the bright side. Dad taught us so much about how to live, but not only that, he taught us about our own mortality, of keeping a sense of humour, grace and dignity in the face of obstacles.
My Dad was my hero. He fought until eventually his body was failing him. The cancer returned aggressively in 2007, this time it had gone to his bones. It had become terminal. We were given 3 months and in a testament to Dad's courage and inner fight, he was able to stretch that time to 7 and a half beautiful and memorable months.
His desire to be at some significant milestone birthdays for us three kids, alongside, a cruise that he and my Mum had planned to New Zealand helped him to continue on when the going got tough.
He was at my 21st birthday, my sisters 18th and my brothers 16th. We even threw him one last hurrah for his 52nd birthday. It was an emotional night. His best bud got up and spoke and said he wanted to acknowledge the elephant in the room.. We all knew this was the last birthday we would have with Dad in his earth suit.
As the weeks passed, he was slowly getting weaker. We knew we didn't have long, and we treasured each and every moment we had with him. We decided as a family that Dad was going to stay at home. So we set it all up for him with the help of the wonderful team at Neringah Palliative Care Unit. It was a hospital at home program and was what Dad wanted.
His last days were spent in bed, in his garden and with our beautiful family and his beloved companion, Benson, the Golden Retriever.
There were days that Mum had to go to work and so i wanted to stay at home with him. I actually made a decision to resign from my position as Room leader at childcare centre so that I could spend what quality time we had left together. It felt right and I'm so grateful I did.
No sooner had Christmas come along and Dad was a champion in our eyes. For Christmas I gave Dad a beautiful gold star for the top of our Christmas Tree. In his card I wrote, "This star shines for you Dad." We still have that star and it comes out at each Christmas. Today I am able to look up to the night sky and find the brightest star. It is my connection to Dad.
As the time grew closer, I couldn't sleep at night, so I would sit up in our loungeroom down the other end of the house listening to The Carpenters and other CDS of musicians that Dad got me onto. On January 10th I had this intuitive knowing that it was coming really soon. I started writing a letter of gratitude to Dad for all he was to me and how much he had helped me during my illness. I wish I still had that piece of writing.
The illness was beginning to take a toll on me and I knew that what was coming was going to shake me to my core.
In 2008, in the early hours of January 11th, my Dad took his last breath with my Mum by his side. She told me a tear trickled down one eye as his heartbeat stopped.
Barely adults, my siblings and I coped the best way we could. We all got up and spoke at his funeral and felt united as a family. But as is often the case with grief, we go our separate ways and try to move forward as best we can.
Two weeks later my boyfriend at the time broke up with me. I couldn't believe it. Within the space of two weeks I had lost the two most important men in my life. My heart was breaking all over again. What I now see as a gift was once the most torturous processes of coming to terms with such loss. We were never meant to be together long term any way. I think what hurt most was the broken promise, but we were young and didn't know what we wanted. This is a story that I will touch more on another time when I dive into relationships.
One day a few years after his passing, we were going through the arduous process of sorting through his belongings, when I found his Leather Bound Filofax in the top drawer of his desk. Flicking through it, I discovered a piece of writing that was dating back to his stay in hospital. His writing was shakey and hard to read but this is what I could make out of it....
Some Humour, By Phill Antman
"I will always remember the age at which I had the operation by the number of stitches I had, 48."
"If fashion returns to the 80's I get to wear clothes I brought 20 years ago!"
"Our food bill will be lower!"
"I will never have to worry about having my duodenum or gallbladder removed in the future! They took it all!"
"Because of all the X-rays and CT Scans I had you will see me coming if ever theres a blackout!"
"If I lay down flat on my back the scar on my stomach could be used as a helicopter landing."
Dad had a wicked sense of humour. He was the ultimate goofball at times but he made everyone around him feel comfortable.
Today I am oh so blessed to have inherited all of his books on spirituality, business, philosophy, mind-body connection and soul. As a child, I was always so intrigued by his bookcase and I would often sneak books away to my room to read!
On January 10th 2014, six years after his passing, my family and I went on a cruise to scatter Dad's ashes out at sea. It was called a "Burial At Sea." We woke up at 5:30am and went with the Captain down to the bottom of the ship. We each took turns to scatter the ashes. It was a beautiful experience, but I was still struggling so much with the loss of the one person in my family who deeply understood me. Struggling with the reality that he would miss out on so much of my and my siblings future, worrying about how Mum was coping with it all. I didn't feel ready to scatter my share of the ashes. it just wasn't the right time.
A few months passed.... My Depression and PTSD and Chronic Fatigue was getting worse. It was in the early hours of the morning, October, 2014. I was laying awake in my bed, feeling incredibly lost, depressed and lonely and I asked my Dad to give me a sign and some guidance.
LOVE>>> HEALING>>>> WATER>>>> MELBOURNE were the four words he gave me.
I actually heard his voice speak to me. To some that may sound ridiculously woo-woo, but unless you have experienced it for yourself it is hard to explain. My body went cold and it was like I could feel him in the room with me. Over the coming months I would wake to what felt like a hand on my face.
To be continued.......
Welcome beautiful. Here you will find the musings of my soulspeak infused with universal truths on love, conscious awakening, ancient wisdom, grace and flow.