Sunday, 31 January 2016

The hardest phone calls I have ever made

The hardest phone calls I have ever made

It started off as a normal Wednesday morning. I arrived in the office, powered my PC on and went to make myself a cup of tea. There were people in the kitchen from the big office across from mine chatting about the night before - evidently very hungover, trying to fix the January blues.

I got back to my desk, mentally making a to-do list. I was planning to process the invoices that accumulated during the Christmas break, ‘close’ December accounts and send all the paperwork off to my accountant. I needed all my concentration and a lot of coffee.

As I was gathering all the invoices, I happened to glance at my phone. There was a Skype message from my brother and a text message from my sister-in-law. The Skype message read ‘dad is dying, there is no hope’. I didn't bother reading the text.

Daddy had been ill for the past year and a half. He had opted out from the treatments available and we had no choice but to respect his wishes. His condition was progressively declining and I knew it was just a matter of time.

So that morning, as soon I saw the message I immediately found ‘Daddy’ in my phone and pressed ‘Call’. His wife picked up. Her voice was quivering with tears. ‘He has just stopped breathing’ - she said. 

My brain knew what it meant but my heart refused to believe. How could he stop breathing? People need oxygen to live, don't they? Daddy just needs to take a deep breath and everything would be ok, couldn't she make him breathe again? He has to be ok, he is my daddy. Daddies don't die, my daddy can’t die, not yet.

But instead of crying, I asked her if there was anyone to stay with her. When I got an affirmative answer I told her I would make the calls, the hardest phone calls I ever had to make in my life. 

First I dialled my baby brother. As I heard the dialing tone I suddenly panicked. I had no idea how I was going to tell him that he had just lost his daddy, his second parent.

He picked up and I froze. I still didn't know what to say. ‘Tash, are you ok?’ - he asked. ‘Daddy has just stopped breathing’ - was all I could muster. I couldn't say ‘daddy died’ or ‘passed away’, it sounded too final, too scary.

The suppressed sob from the other end of the line sliced through my heart like a knife. My baby brother was hurting and I wasn't there to hug him. I muttered something about being in touch and hung up. I still had to phone my other brother.

Phone calls made, I sat staring at the screen. The pile of invoices was sitting there, the cup of tea was still steaming. Everything must’ve happened in a matter of minutes but felt like an eternity to me. My heart was still hoping that it was just one big joke. Maybe daddy was just holding his breath and messing with us. 

I wished for somebody to call and tell me that daddy was breathing again, that he was ok. But my phone was showing no signs of life. Anguish started spreading through my body filling me with despair. I was scared and crashed. I couldn't  imagine my life without daddy. He was always there - school, university, my wedding, my divorce. He was my shoulder, my friend, my mentor. And now he was gone.

The tears started streaming down my face. But I wasn't ready for them, couldn’t fall apart in the office. Besides, I had one more call to make. I swiped my phone to life, found ‘Mr Chateauneuf’ and pressed ‘Call’.