This is the view from my parent’s sitting room. When this picture was taken my father, wizened with pancreatic cancer, was sitting in his armchair just to the left of me next to the window reading the evening paper, and Mum, marvelling at the setting sun, had asked me to take a picture of it. And in reality it was a beauty – fiery orange with pinks and corals burning the trees on the horizon in a breath-taking display of vibrancy and raw power which this picture failed utterly to capture.
Today, as I write this, I am sitting in Dad’s armchair preparing myself for his funeral tomorrow. And once again I am failing to capture the raw beauty and power of a setting sun.
I could tell you how our lives were lurched into suspended animation the day we heard him say ‘the Doctor says I have cancer’; the sickness I felt when Google explained in unflinching detail the prognosis as everyone else tried to hide behind blind faith and hope; the desperation we all had when he was admitted to hospital; the horror when he was released and told to go home because there was nothing they could do, that any chemotherapy would kill him, that surgery would never happen and that he only had weeks to live. I cannot even begin to convery how I now dread phonecalls, how the last conversation with my brother left me on the point of retching when I was told the Dr said he could go anytime ‘so come as soon as you can’, how I packed a bag in record speed and managed to pack everything except anything I needed, bundled my children in the car and sped the 250 mile journey in record speed to race to my dad’s bedside, cool his brow with a cool clothe before he died before all of us two hours later.
These last few weeks have dragged and raced at one and the same time. From January to the end of March, from diagnosis to death. From hope to despair.
But equally I could tell you about the kindness of strangers, the brilliance of nurses and Drs, the many, many people who cared, who hugged, who made the time to ask how we were. Small kindnesses which kept us afloat in so many ways.
I can’t capture in a way that does it justice the power and raw beauty of this setting sun. Tomorrow I bury my father.