Every day I miss him

Monday 16 April, 2012

Paul was the nicest man you could have ever met. He had a joke for every occasion, a story to tell and was always on the move.

I don't remember the first time I met him or even when my mum starting cleaning his house, but I remember his passion for all things Scottish and how I came to admire him. He always talked about colleges when I was around and even wanted to get me some pamphlets on the good ones. He has so many expectations for me because, just like my parents, he seems to know how smart I am, even if I still don't see it. The most wonderful thing he ever did for me was to pay for my graduation dress. I could never thank him enough for that.

I knew he had been a two-time cancer survivor so when his cancer came back in his oesophagus, I didn't think much of it. I knew he'd survive. He was a fighter. It would just slow him down a bit.

He went into the hospital to have a thing put in his throat to hold it open so he could eat. It opened his throat but not too far. He went through radiation and chemo and even though he started to look his age, I always saw the man I knew he was underneath.

When the cancer went away, I was overjoyed. He was going to be fine. His hair would grow back and we would go out to eat again.

But his oesophagus had hardened like a tree trunk and they eventually had to put a feeding tube in. Still, he was alive and that's what mattered to me.

Then, just a few weeks later, the cancer came back, lower and in a spot they didn't dare operate. They had two, or maybe three, good reasons not to. First, he had never had much fat on him. He was tall, lean, and never ate anything that had fat. Second, he was still weak from chemo. And third because his bone density was so low they were afraid it would never heal.

I felt my heart drop. I didn't want this to be it. He was a great guy and he deeply cared for my mum, and when he decided to travel to see another doctor, I kept my fingers crossed, but not hard enough. The doctor wouldn't touch him, just like all the others. So that was it. Our only option was just what we did; we took him home and watched him die.

Everyday became harder because he still wanted to do what he wanted and he was angry, just like me.

There was nothing to do and he was scared. On the day of my nephew's birth, mum couldn't wake him. He was breathing but he wouldn't wake. He never would. It was his final day and every nurse who had been hired to help him came to say goodbye, as well as all his friends.

Not too long after my nephew entered the world, Paul left. My mum said that one minute it was like he was asleep, then he was gone.

She cried, I cried. I was sad, but I was happy that now he could go be with his mum, a lady I admired because of him. She was an artist and her paintings were beautiful.

His funeral wasn't what I had hoped it would be for him. I didn't go but mum did. My work wouldn't let me off unless a family member died and I knew mum wouldn't want me to lie and say he had been my grandfather, even though he had been, after my last one died.

In the end, I said a prayer, lit a candle and wrote a short eulogy of my own, which I posted on a profile now gone. Every day I wake up and I want there to be a cure. I know it won't bring him back but it would end the suffering of both victim and family alike.

Every day I miss him. He truly was a Scotsman, even if he was actually American. My heart goes out to the families still waiting for the time when their worries will be over and to the people who wake every day and, like Paul, don't take no for answer.

Losing someone to cancer is usually devastating. Most people will suffer some form of grief when this happens. If someone close to you has died from cancer you may find it helpful to speak with a nurse about how you're feeling. You can call the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20. The nurses will be able to suggest several support services.
Updated: 16 Apr, 2012