Grief at the time of COVID-19

My Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in February this year and then we thought OK it is going to be intense and we will trust the doctors to see where it will take us. Little did we know in less than 2 months, cancer would take him from us. On the advice from the oncologist as the cancer was spreading to his liver, Dad had the chemo and he felt wonderful – two days later along came the side effects. The side effects took their toll on his life where he was so strong right up to the end.

My journey began when I got the call when Dad was put into palliative care, heck how am I supposed to travel to Queensland the borders closed plus I do not want to put my immunocompromised Dad at risk of the virus. Lucky there was legislation in place that I could visit on compassionate grounds and I had all the paperwork minus my evidence which was collected by the police with a phone call and email to the hospital. Then I was through, after having my face mask on for 3 hours I only had another 30 minutes or so to go before I could breathe some fresh air again and see my family.

With the advice of my friend, I needed to dump all the clothes I flew in and have a shower and change before I went to the hospital. And then I was there with my last few hours with my Dad in a palliative care unit – knowing that the time when he will pass will come soon but not knowing when. The doctors had him on morphine to help with his breathing and he was coherent the day I arrived and I shared some videos of the family and showed him our house progress, we laughed and spoke about our house build. We shared time together over a hospital dinner when I could see his body was giving up. I knew deep down that the time was coming very soon, so we held hands, hugged and I said “I love you Dad”.

It was the next day when I noticed a difference in his communication with fading in and out of consciousness it was scary and we had 1 hour per day to visit him. So I was with mum, her brothers and sister and we took turns to say hello. Then we left him and he was sleeping deeply and snoring away which was a good thing as he needed to rest after all the visitors. The next day was when the call came to my mum at 6:30am, he had a fall on the floor from getting tangled in his blankets as he wanted to get up and go to the loo. He felt he had the strength to get himself there but the mind body connection was not there, then the nurses settled him with a catheter and he was peaceful and that was when he passed on.

Life will not be the same again as my friend agrees that losing a parent is so hard and complicated. I am thankful that I had such a caring and kind Dad who was always patient no matter how hard I tested his patience as a teenager. That is just a period of life and as you get older, your parents are there to support you with unconditional love. Living away in San Francisco Bay Area for 12 years was really hard but then I made the decision to come back to Australia every year over the long summer and it made a big difference to be with my family. Each year it was so important to spend as much time as possible with my parents and create memories. In 2018 we had a wonderful time together whale watching, enjoying our day on the ocean mesmerised by such incredible creatures.

We go through life thinking our parents will always be there for us but when the inevitable happens everything is hard to comprehend. I am now here alone in an Air Bnb away from my husband and children. I am going to stay here as long as I can to help my Mum with everything. The borders closing on Queensland means my husband and children cannot even come up for the funeral with a maximum of 10 people.

In a sense I am glad that Covid-19 made me stay here in Australia, as we planned a trip to Hawaii right at this time. I would not have had the chance to say goodbye and see my Dad one last time. There is always a silver lining no matter how tragic the circumstances are. Even though we have to stay at home, I have come here to be with my family and no amount of elbow taps and shin bumps can replace a hug to express the love and care for each other and I understand that we need to stay safe and protect the ones we love. Let us hope that we are safe from this virus.

Rest in peace Dad, you are forever in my heart x

Stocking up, kevabs and New Order

I saw this quote the other day when I went for my self isolation shopping trip. It really made me think how messed up the world is and what are we going to do about it. Well we see the PM is finally listening to scientists – maybe that can be translated to the climate scientists and we can start doing something positive for our planet. There is definitely something out of order when you go to the shop and are rationed with 2 items for most of the products. The shelves were stocked at 7am and open early for the vulnerable and the elderly which is a great initiative because of all the hoarding and panic buying! I went in with my cart around 9am and felt so anxious, feeling the post apocalyptic energy where the aisles were void of most products. Now my pantry has rice, pasta, dried beans and pulses, cat food, Panadol, alcohol and aloe vera gel for hand sanitiser, eucalyptus essential oil, local frozen greek food, peanut butter, tomatoes, passata, crackers and cordial. I hope that will be enough food to get us through, if we have to shelter at home like the Bay Area in SF. I found that a focus on nutrition helps with the immune system plus some exercises, it is is exercising indoors via YouTube and eating well with minimal adventures outdoors with 1.5 metres away from anyone (which is two arm lengths).

Before all this self isolation and on the last day of my Uni break, I finally caught up with my friend and we went out for a vegan kebab! It was just the best and we had a lovely afternoon together chatting away over some tasty vegan food in Brunswick. And the bonus was the pea protein fake meat in the kebab will be available for sale in the future. The choices for sauces were divine and the salads looked amazing and my friend enjoyed the pea protein and a mix of three of the salads, so yummo!

I also have been going out and enjoying the sunshine and I found these poppies at a neighbourhood centre on my walk back from the hairdresser. The weather has just been beautiful and it is important to go outside and enjoy it being 1.5 metres away from people. Last weekend I did another sewing bee at the library but because of the scariness of COVID-19 I only had one friend show up! It was good as I worked away and managed to use all the donated fabric at the library and made dog blankets for a lady on the Good Karma Network in my neighbourhood. My cat Bella managed to score the black blanket on the top, lucky girl!

And then the self isolate rules were put in place from last Monday and over the weekend my friend invited me to go and see New Order at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. I said to her I was concerned about the germs but as it is an outside venue I felt way better. It was a sold out show but there were many tickets available for the show on the night, I reckon a lot of sensible people did cancel. We decided it was so worth it to see New Order and dance around at one last party before we are hanging out at home for the next month or more.