Wednesday, 13 November 2013


There's a hospital next door to where I work.  It's the cancer hospital.  Every morning I walk by it to get my morning latte from the hospital next door to it (there are 4 hospitals on that stretch of the street).  It's a sad state of affairs that I have to walk half a block for a decent coffee (and even then it's hit and miss). But that is not what this post is about.

Last year they began some construction  and boarded up the front entrance of the hospital.  The boards quickly started getting covered in graffiti.  People leaving messages up in memory of their loved ones or messages of thanks to the doctors and nurses that had helped them.  There were some quotes from the Bible, quotes of inspiration and even some poetry.

I passed by them all the time.  I'm not sure I really gave them any thought.

My dad started feeling unwell around this time last year.  Probably earlier but it was in October he got a cold that took awhile to shake off.  Mum kept saying "dad's not feeling well."  And she'd keep my little boy with her instead of sending him out with my dad.  Eventually, sometime in December it was confirmed that he had cancer.  They saw it on his liver.  It had originated in his stomach.  It explained his loss of appetite.  It explained why he was turned off by what used to be his favourite foods.  The man who used to drink gallons of tea (slight exaggeration) was down to one cup a day.  If that.

Writing this makes me immensely sad.  It constricts my chest.  A weight sits upon me.  Sometimes I can barely breathe.  We are coming on a year. And the weight - it seems to be getting heavier.

Around this time I noticed someone had written a verse of the Quran on one of the boards.  The person had written the verse in Arabic and then in English had added, "You're promised hope - take it."  I could read the verse but had to look up the translation: "Verily, along with every hardship is relief. Verily, along with every hardship is relief. (Surah Inshirah 5-6). " 

I shared it with my dad.  "Dad, you're promised relief.  In every darkness there is light.  You just have to look for it.  It's not at the end of the tunnel, it's in the tunnel."  It gave me great solace - that verse did.  I saw it every day.

My dad succumbed to the disease in early February - two months after the diagnosis.  I was off work for a couple of weeks.  When I got back, the boards had been covered up.  Replaced with marketing for the hospital's fundraising efforts.

I like to think it was written there for me.  A sign to tell me that relief is never far.  It may just not look like you might expect.

Immediately after he died we felt relief - consoled that he didn't suffer for too long, privileged to have been a part of his journey.  A little shell shocked perhaps.  But now, ten months on, I feel the tightness in my throat, the sting in my eyes, the weight on my chest, the lead in my feet.  They're all a little harder to ignore.  In our family, we don't do grand displays of emotion.  We pull our socks up and get on with it.  So it comes to me when I am alone and off guard - sitting in a dark room waiting for my children to fall asleep, on a train full of people, walking home.  

They say grief is all consuming.  They are right.

I want to know when it goes away.  I want to see the light in this tunnel.