mercredi 9 juillet 2008

Euston Station. 21 March 2002. 4.45 p.m.

OK, so when I was writing la centaine I referred to the one story that I was unsure about whether or not to add, heartbreaking as it is to tell.

Anyway, I've decided to tell it.

Why? Because it is a big part of my tale. Because it has shaped me. Because it affects 90% of everything that happens within my family.

Why have I chosen to tell it today? I don't know. I feel good. I feel happy. I feel able to write it without getting too emotional.

That's a big build up. Sorry. Here it is.

21st March 2002 and I'm in London for the day. I'm working and have been in and out of a succession of meetings all day. Luckily, I finish early and head to the station.

Now, any of you who know Euston will know how everyone stands in the departure hall, looking up at the screens waiting for their train to be announced. On a busy day upwards of 1000 people can be congregated there at any one time.

It was such a day, and my screen gazing was interrupted by my phone ringing. it was my brother.

"Where are you?"


"What train are you on?"

"The Lichfield one - my car is at Lichfield station"

"Change it, come to Birmingham. Dad's in hospital, he's had a heart attack"

(Calm, but nonetheless shocked reaction) "I can't, it'll be quicker to get the train to Lichfield and drive to the hospital. I'll be there in two hours"

"Ok, just get here as soon as you can"

"Is he ok?"

"Yes, just get here"

So, I got on the train, mildly stunned but calm and keen to get some miles behind me. If he was in hospital, then at least he was being looked after.

The phone rang again.

"We've left the hospital, come to Mom's"

"OK. Is everything alright?"

"The nurses said there's nothing to be gained by sitting around at the hospital. They said to go home"

"Right. Well, I'll come to the house then"

And then, in the background I heard his wife say 'just tell him we all need to be together'.....he shushed her, but the damage was done.

At that moment I knew that my father had died.

I drove from the station to my Mother's house on auto-pilot. I felt nauseous and dizzy. I knew this was one of those moments. I knew that once I rang that doorbell my life would never be the same again.

I pulled up on the driveway and steeled myself. I had to go in. I had to face the news.

I rang the bell. My brother answered.

He opened the door and my Mom came running to the door. She made it half the length of the hallway and collapsed.

"He's dead" she cried, and just lay there on the floor, not knowing what to do, or how to do it.

All of our lives changed that day.

22 commentaires:

aims a dit…

Ah TBNIL - Have been here - know where you were at and where you are now.

Hurts. Still.

Daryl a dit…

Oh TBNIL, I know how you feel ... then and now.

They lie those people who say it gets easier.


travelling, but not in love a dit…

And I got off lightly. I'm not sure how, but I'm the least dramatic of all of my family.

My brother is campaigning for my father's canonisation and my mother has started painting pictures of him from memory....

Louise a dit…

That is something you never get over. And until that happens to you (in whatever way death of a parent comes), you really can't understand what anyone else who is dealing with that is going through.

I feel your pain as you drive up, get out of the car and walk to the door.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hey Louise. That really was the moment you know - walking up the path thinking 'nothing is ever going to be the same again' and still having to ring the bell. terrible.

Momma a dit…

I am so sorry, TBNL. Even though it has been 6 years for you and 26 years for me, it never gets any easier, really. I am sure that you can call up those emotions in a heartbeat and still feel that hollowness that came when you realized your father was dead and you were not with him. It happened to me that way, too.


Peace - D

alan a dit…

hugsies and kisses... Can't be easy recalling such a story

Lewis a dit…

I must admit my silliness...that I came here to post about the fact that I've been in/out of Euston station before on my way to Liverpool, I believe. But then, your post took another turn..... and I was sad for you. I remember that very day in my own life:

Anonyme a dit…

It is such a before and after moment, I know only too well. And Louise is right I believe, in saying you never get over it. Thank you for posting this X

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hey Momma - hollow is a good way of describing it. More a lack of feeling than any specific feeling whenever I think of it....

Alan - thanks. It's 6 years ago now, and the edge is off. Still hard though.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hey Lewis, It would indeed be Euston on the way to Liverpool. Did you like Liverpool though? I have a big love/hate relationship with the place....I'm going to check out your link now...

Conortje, the strangeness of knowing as soon as I rang that bell everything changes....I usually knock these days!

Lola a dit…

The day has not yet come for me, but it will. There's a strange inevitability - the only thing that's certain in life (along with taxes). I used to apply it to myself, that my own death was certain, but this post actually made me realise that it applies equally to those I love.

Ben a dit…

There is something in that moment, isn't there? That very moment you find out someone close to you has died it's as if god or the universe has taken a sledge hammer and thumped heavily on the thin prism that separates our sanity from chaos. The world suddenly starts to look like a television with the contrast turned way up. The air becomes white noise.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Lola, it certainly made me stop and think.

Ben, you're absolutely right - when I think back to it that whole driveway scene is played in slow motion - and in silence. I knew the sound of the bell meant the end of my childhood.

Scout a dit…

I followed you from Sassy Sundry's...

This is a poignant telling of your story. My father died about a year before yours, and it really can change your life.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hey Scout, welcome. Life changing it is. Without a doubt.

Medbh a dit…

You capture the moment so well, Travelling. I had my breath sucked in tightly.

Anonyme a dit…

My Mam died on mothers day -ironic and that was just a six weeks after my 32 year old husband was killed in a car smash. You think nothing can match the combined grief there, oh yes there is, my dad died four years later,of a heart attack on his way to see me and my two lttle ones. That was twenty years ago and I can still feel that pain. He was my anchor , my dad, my hero.

Anonyme a dit…

Oh god... that must have been so horrible...

amy a dit…

You captured so well the before and after - going about your business one minute and then everything changes and you can't get back that carefree feeling ever, once you've been through it.

If ever I fall behind with reading your blog, I find myself having to make time to catch up - that's how much I like your writing.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Medbh, breathe out, breathe out!

VM, that's a catalogue of disaster, but it seems deaths come in bunches.

Around the time of my Dad's death I organised four funerals in three years - on the fourth occasion the man at the Co-op said to me "who is it this time? Do I need to call the police about you?"

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Marjolein, it was. Awful.

And Amy, it's true - the before and after are so markedly different. the trouble is you can see the after coming and there is no way to avoid it - except for running....

Thanks for the lovely words too.