Seven years ago today, it was an icy cold Saturday in Melbourne. Sometime before midday, I walked out of the palliative care unit at Monash hospital and was met by an ungentle flurry of hailstones.
Seven years ago today, my Dad died
I’d gotten the call to say that it would be soon. It would be that morning.
So I went to my local coffee spot to grab a coffee and a croissant. Fortifications. The barista asked me what I was doing that day. I told him I was witnessing the passing of my father.
When I arrived, a nurse in the hallway told me that he’d already gone. But that wasn’t quite my experience when I entered his room. Instead… well, it was something else. Something ethereally beautiful.
Death is only the beginning (for the living)
Oh heck, it’s probably true to say that death is only the beginning for those who die, too.
But for those living through the death of a loved one? Death is not the end of anything, particularly.
Except… well, for me it was the end of feeling so sad about Dad’s decline in health. He had almost exactly 12 months of pretty horrible suffering before he passed, and a lot of that was spent in one hospital or another.
And actually, it was the beginning of the end for my family of origin.
It was a step change for the slow-then-fast implosion of what I’d called family for 43 years. I’d been told that when a family member dies, it can cause a massive reorganisation amongst those who remain. And how.
But all endings are beginnings of something new…
Death is simple, complicated, and a butt-load of fuckery
We’d all known on some level that his time was near.
In the year before he finally passed, we’d been told several times he wouldn’t make it through the day or the week, from the moment he was brought to the Alfred’s ICU.
It’s not easy for me to consider my father’s life, his long illness, and subsequent death. There are so many factors. None of them are simple.
Eulogising ain’t easy
I was the only family member who had the balls to speak at his funeral.
Saying deeply emotional words about a departed loved one in front of others, many of whom are basically strangers… it’s raw as it gets.
I could only speak my truth
He wasn’t a particularly good Dad, most of his life. He was emotionally and often physically absent.
He was great if you needed something fixed. He taught me how to reverse park and do hill starts in a manual car, and change tyres.
I never really felt like I knew him very well.
I remember vividly trying to engage my Dad in conversation when I was small. He’d be in his garage with his back turned to me as he tinkered away. “What are you doing?”, I’d ask. He’d start talking without turning around, he just kept on working. I’d no idea what he was saying. But I liked to hear him talk to anyway.
He was funny, and actually a lot more chatty with people outside of his family than with his own children. I’ve inherited his looks and his Dad-joke sense of humour, but not his love of ocean sailing or being a fix-it person at home.
Truthfully, most conversations with Dad were about work, what he was renovating at home, his next yacht race and later in life, various travel adventures and his grand-daughters.
Nothing too deep. And definitely nothing below the surface, which was challenging for this deeply emotional person.
He didn’t protect me. He hardly even noticed the peril I was in as a child within our home. He was prone to sulking, and spent a long chunk of time not talking to me because we’d had a disagreement. It’s something he did to another sibling, too.
We didn’t have an independent relationship. One year for his birthday, I wanted to take him out to lunch. Just him and me. But he said he couldn’t possibly go without my mother. And that was the end of that.
The most time I ever got to spend with him was when I’d visit him alone in hospital in that final fateful year.
A 12-month long death march
Dad was stoic most of his life. He never got sick, until he did. And then he’d be VERY unwell until he was better.
That all changed when he was diagnosed with both prostate cancer and Parkinson’s. The cancer, they were able to resolve with surgery as they’d caught it early.
The Parkinson’s was his waterloo. Things were okay until they weren’t and like many with Parkinson’s, his decline was connected to the insane cocktail of meds he was taking.
For a little while, he managed pretty well with a cane and a walker. But then… Dad contracted a horrible stomach superbug which led to several weeks in the ICU. Then endless months in hospital, with many ups and downs.
We didn’t know Dad was so drugged up that he was full-on hallucinating. Doctors told us he had hospital delirium (common for long-term patients), and it was months before they worked out it was his meds.
He was busy watching the TV when it wasn’t turned on. And telling us all sorts of really vivid stories. Some from his childhood, and some that sounded entirely nonsensical.
But he wasn’t just hallucinating. Perhaps both the meds and the trauma dropped a few veils for him. Because he started telling me about the people at the end of his bed (I knew he was seeing ghosts), and asking when he would see his own Dad again (who was deceased).
Then one day while I was visiting him, he asked me about the beings of light he saw around me. Only he called them “fairies”.
Why do you have so many fairies around you? I don’t see that many of them around anyone else!
This was possibly the most unexpected conversation I could imagine sharing with Dad.
Well Dad, they aren’t really fairies. They’re my spiritual team, and they’re around me because we communicate regularly, and support me in my healing work.
So began a series of questions!
My favourite that he asked that day was “How do you get to become a fairy?”. He was deeply moved by what he was experiencing and seeing.
Shortly afterwards, his doctors changed his medication and sent him into a state of unconsciousness for two days. Again, we were told to prepare ourselves. It wasn’t the end, though. He was just asleep while his meds shifted. The symbolism is interesting though… awakened to asleep.
However, when he woke up he remembered everything! Even though he could no longer see the fairies, he knew they were real.
On my next visit, he peppered me with even more questions and for the first time in my life, my Dad got to know me on that deeper level. I shared with him things I’d learned on my spiritual path, things that blew his mind.
Dad was so emotional in these conversations. He said he always knew I was different, but he didn’t know how. And he felt so sad that he didn’t know who I was until now. I told him it didn’t matter, because now he DID know. Time is weird like that.
And for me, this connection was everything.
Dad kept talking about fairies until the end. We kept having conversations about spiritual topics, and about his Dad. He allowed me to do some healing work for him, too…
The end was unkind (as death often is)
By the time the doctors told us there was no more they could do for him, his Parkinson’s had progressed considerably with those long months in hospital beds.
His body had become stiff. His cognitive abilities went downhill, especially after he was moved into a nursing home against his will.
He was only there for six weeks. In that time, he went from having zero bed sores to quite horrific ones. Without a doubt the bed sores contributed to the septicaemia that killed him.
The late night call
I’d known that eventually it’d happen. The middle of the night phone call. Come now. Here’s the address.
When I arrived, Dad was half naked and on a ventilator. He looked surprised, stunned, and uncomfortable.
Some medical person(s) spoke to us about his prognosis. It wasn’t good. Did we want extraordinary measures?
It felt surreal to say no, please don’t take extraordinary measures. We knew he wouldn’t want them (neither would I). But that decision meant he was moved to the palliative care unit. Preparing for death.
What are you going to say?
Dad had two more days, I think. Most of that time he was asleep. I brought crystals and cards with me. I meditated with him as he slept.
A week or so beforehand, I’d been guided to purchase a flower essence blend called Transition, which assists with the process of death amongst other things. It arrived two days before he passed.
Driving to see him with the flower essence remedy in my pocket, it occurred to me that I needed to say something to him before he passed. Something meaningful.
The words rose up…
You’ve been the perfect Dad. I couldn’t be the person that I am if you weren’t who you are. Thank you.
I put Transition remedy on his face and hands.
When I walked into his room with my coffee and croissant on that frozen Saturday morning, I instantly saw two things.
1. The look on Dad’s face. As if he’d seen something absolutely mind-blowingly wonderful.
2. The most impressive trail of golden light leaving his body and moving diagonally towards the sky.
He might’ve been medically gone when I arrived, but he was still in the process of going.
Death is absolutely beautiful in the end.
The movement in my family after Dad passed was devastating. It’s an entire story on its own.
I had to kick my ass repeatedly to finish the final assignments for my Kinesiology diploma.
I experienced a life-altering Kundalini awakening that made normal human functioning VERY difficult for a really long time. I could do energy healing work and write ecstatic poetry, but paying bills on time or any other human admin stuff was super challenging.
Nothing has been the same ever since.
My mother became my ex-mother in some absolutely traumatising experiences. My sister chose to cut contact instead of offer me any support. I didn’t think I’d ever get to see my nieces again. My relationship with them was completely altered as a result.
My ex-mother almost caused me to be arrested (for the second time in my life).
The stress of the betrayal and abandonment caused me to lose large chunks of hair. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
This whole mess caused the end of a close friendship.
Deeply hidden childhood memories resurfaced. I suspect it was the first time in my life that I’d felt safe enough for them to come forth.
I thought I’d never be happy ever again. I had LOTS and LOTS of healing support.
There’s so much more to each of these one-liners!
Death creates new growth
Eventually my hair grew back! Soft, small whisps at first.
I found stability. A new home with a beautiful garden.
I returned to India and… that story is long and amazing. Much healing was done in my three weeks in rural Tamil Nadu.
The journey of processing Dad’s passing and everything that happened afterwards has been ongoing ever since.
From a karmic perspective, I get it. There’s been a LOT for me to move through in this lifetime. I’m all good with understanding those things.
But it’s still challenging to know how to feel about Dad as a result of all the above. He was far from a perfect Dad. And then everything changed after he died.
Acceptance is the only remedy
I’ve chosen acceptance that there are unanswered questions I have for Dad. I don’t have all the answers, and probably never will. Instead, I focus on the healing I can do for myself.
I can still be grateful for the last year of his life, even though it doesn’t resolve anything. It’s a function of grace to have shared the time we did time together talking about “fairies”. And that’s so much better than never having that.
And it’s better too, for my own state of peace to hold space for the magic of his awakening.
One day I’ll get the word “acceptance” tattooed on my body.
I finally moved out of Melbourne in June 2021. I’d been meaning to for years as despite being born there, I’ve never been okay with the cold, grey weather.
But one of main reasons I left was the heartbreak of living so close to my family members who’d broken my trust and my heart.
Of course there are other reasons I left, too. Such as needing to live closer to nature and further from concretey cities. And heeding the call of the land. Being where I’m needed. Allowing space for the decompression of the last seven years of my life.
When Dad died, I physically felt the shift. Reality had been changed. The fabric of this realm was torn open and his soul was extracted from physicality.
The wheel of my ancestors clicked over a notch and things had changed irrevocably for the living.
I did a healing session for Dad after he passed, and his message was “I can’t believe I’m dead!” I wanted to make sure he didn’t get stuck here as a ghost (he definitely didn’t).
His passing left a space in which a cauldron of change was heated to boiling point.
All these experiences can also be filed under the heading of grief, for which there are no rules. No timeframe. No correct way or order for healing to be done.
Wherever you are Dad, I hope you found peace in returning to source.
Thank you for the voluminous lessons your passing has brought me.
Ambha Amanda Roberts is a Kinesiologist, Intuitive Healer, educator and facilitator based on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She offers Kinesiology sessions both in-person and via Skype/Zoom all over the world.
Ambha Amanda is the co-creator of Adventures of Staria, which includes a series of Staria cards, and an upcoming book for children (including inner children).