The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Emails From History …
February 10, 2022, 8:00 am
Filed under: Childhood, Dad, Death, Family, Fear, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad

A while back, I received an email from someone at Queen’s Medical Centre.

The QMC is a hospital near where I lived in Nottingham.

It was once the biggest hospital in Europe, but its real significance is it is the hospital that saved my eyesight, saved my Mum’s life, saved my Dad’s … until they couldn’t.

It’s a place that ignites an insane amount of emotions in me.

I obviously haven’t been in it for a long time, but the last occasion I was there – when I went with Mum to see her specialist to try and delay her op as it was going to coincide when Otis was going to be born – so much came flooding back.

It smelt the same.
It had the same bustle and noise.
It had the same cafes and newsagents.
It had the same corridors, doors and places of eery silence.

I have spent too much of my life in that place.

It may be a place that saved me and the most important members of my family … but it also subjected me to feelings that I never want to experience again.

Fear. Worry. Pain. Confusion.

So it was strange to receive this email from a medical student [QMC is also a medical training and research hospital] saying they had found this blog and discovered the posts I had written about my Mum and Dad dying.

They told me they were doing a project where they were reaching out to people who had suffered great loss to see if they would be willing to write about their experience and how they came back from their darkest points – so that it could help others going through a similar thing.

I was both flattered and terrified.

Flattered to be asked. Terrified what it may reignite.

Because despite Dad having been gone 23 years and Mum 7, I can still be affected by their loss with the most random of triggers.

And it was then I realised why I had to do it.

Because while Anthony Hopkins eyes can make me think of my Dad … or random elderly women in Thai Restaurants in Manhattan Beach can make me feel compelled to give them a hug … the rush of emotion they ignite has gone from drowning to reconnecting.

I know that might sound strange.

And I can assure you that isn’t how it feels when you’re in the moment of it.

But after – when the moment has been allowed to overwhelm – it is exactly how I feel.

Which is why I sent them this. I hope it does someone good, somewhere.

I hope it lets Mum and Dad know even though their loss can stab me with pain.

I’m OK.

And so is the pain.


And then there was no one.
He was on his own.
An adult who still felt like a child but had no other choice than to grow up.

This was not part of the plan.
Yes, he had some vague notion of the concept of death.
But they were going to live forever.

But silence reinforced truth.
They had both gone.
And despite the decades of life he’d lived.
And despite the family he’d raised.
He never felt so alone.
An orphan.
Drifting in a sea, with no life jacket left to protect him.

And as truth took hold
He entered a black hole of time.
Not knowing if he would be able to cope.
Not sure if he wanted to.
But somewhere deep inside there was a will that was starting to take hold.

And while the first days and weeks made him a slave to his tears.
Bit by bit he crawled his way back.
Out of the darkness and back into the light.
Still struggling to make sense of anything.
But out and alive.

But despite all the years
A shadow still remained.
In the background.
Far enough to be out the way.
Not far enough to fully escape it.
And it stays there, waiting to pounce whenever it pleases.
Waiting to drag you back into its darkness.

They say time is the great healer.
But that’s not exactly right.
Because time doesn’t heal, it reframes.
And while you never know when it will happen, you know when it does.

Because one day the shadow will strike.
Envelop you to drag you down.
Take you to a place that feels like a prison … except of being locked in, emotions escape out.
But the tears now have a different role.
They’re no longer about what you don’t have.
They’re for memories of what you did.
The silly, the ridiculous, the bland and the majestic.
Each tear becomes a memory of what those two meant to you.
The people you would give all you have to see again,
But now you realise they’re not completely gone.
Because the shadow is no longer a sign of loss.
But a reminder, they’re still there.

6 Comments so far
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This is beautiful Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

nice work campbell. but im very fucking concerned a hospital found this blog and didnt think it was an infectious disease.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ve always admired the way you can talk openly about your emotions. The way you speak about your parents, Otis, Jill and even your cat is really beautiful. I am glad you responded to the request, it will definitely help people experiencing the pain of loss.

Comment by George

Yes, yes. yes.

Jemma xi

Comment by Jemma King

This is gorgeous Robbie,.

Jemma xo

Comment by Jemma King

Thanks for the nice words.

I know it’s a bit over-the-top but it’s literally the journey I was on – and still am on. If it helps someone realise there is no rule to how you deal with grief but it also has positives rather than just tragedy, then I’ll be happy.

Comment by Rob

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