Dear 2010

Dear 2010,

I feel it is only right to send you this letter, we’ve not met face to face, and this will be the last time I have any interaction with you.  I think you will understand that I am very comfortable with this fact, as – to say the least – we have not got along.

Being diagnosed with Diabetes was not the best start to the year, to be honest.  Though I certainly deserve some criticism for not noticing the very obvious signs.  The following weeks spent with massively impaired vision was certainly memorable – especially as despite everyone reminding me that my sight would return, there was that part of me paranoid that it would not.  Though I had to see the funny side of eating breakfast indoors with sunglasses on.  It hit my father hard; without understanding of the condition, he saw it as a failure on his part to notice that his son was wasting away in front of him.  He felt that certain shade of helpless that makes it hard to concentrate on anything other than the many things you can’t do.

It’s a horrible feeling, and one that I got to know all too well.  Seeing a loved one get cancer – even a ‘milder’ form of it – is far from fun.  Not knowing it’s cancer until the end of a two-month stint in hospital is even further from it – especially when the one you care about most on this planet also gets pneumonia whilst in a weakened and drug-addled state.  Despite the fact my dad is in his seventies, despite the many fears I’ve entertained about his health and continued existence, this was the first time I genuinely thought ‘this is it’.  I thought my last contact with him would be a confused phonecall asking if we were coming in to see him that day, only half an hour after we had returned home from the hospital.

Don’t get me wrong, 2010; while I am critical of how you have treated me, I am more than aware of how lucky I have been.  The weight loss I suffered at the start of the year is often an indication of cancer, and there are far, far worse things to get than Diabetes.  And, as you know, my father kicked pneumonia’s arse and improved enough to come home. We found out he had Myeloma, that it was not a terminal form of cancer, and that he could be treated with a relatively low level of Chemotherapy tablets and Thalidomide.  Though I do not feel it, the amount of people who have commended my strength during this time must have a point.  I dealt with my own condition well out of necessity.  Not so much because I knew tears, fear and rage would serve no good use, but because I could see those things in my father, and I could not do that to him.  Similarly, I kept these things away from him when he was hospitalised, never broke down in front of him, and was lucky enough to have a mother who not only supported me, but helped her ex-husband in ways we cannot ever repay.

But the father I knew at the start of the year is not the man I know now.  Seeing him hobbling around as brittle as a twig is very hard to take. He frequently talks to me about doing something with several key facts missing, assuming I already know what he’s thinking about.  His wit – which was always greater than mine, and more modern than anyone I’ve known over 50 – is gone.  Now he is very much an old man. Something I thought I had already come to terms with, but the dramatic shift over the last six months makes it hit home more suddenly.  Now – despite recovering rapidly for his age – he shuffles about the house, his arms half the size they should be, his shoulders uneven due to muscle deterioration. He’s frail, brittle.  His resonant voice is weak. Shades of his old self come through in all the wrong ways; he gets angry with himself for being clumsy, frustrated because he can’t move his arm how it should, because the pills make him sluggish and tired. He, like me – like anyone – cannot bear the thought of enfeeblement and helplessness.  He may not have developed a terminal form of cancer, but it still feels like cancer has taken my father from me.

I’m not saying you have brought me only misery, 2010.  While you and I have known each other, I had the chance to experience Glastonbury.  I saw a good friend get married to a wonderful woman.  I reconnected with old friends from uni for two excellent weekends together.  And I got to vent my frustrations on the violent floors of music venues, listening and screaming along to some of my favourite bands, some of the best this country has to offer.

More importantly, I’ve got a hunger for a better life.  Thanks to seeing how short life is, to facing my own mortality and that of the person closest to me, I’ve realised how much of the short time on this planet I have wasted. I have a drive now to actually do those things I say I’ll do at the end of every year.  To make something of myself.  Perhaps I should be thankful.  If I had not seen the man that made me laying in a hospital bed so frail I thought I would never see him breathing again, I would not have realised so painfully that I have not done anything of worth to show him before he leaves forever.  If I had not come to terms with the fact that I now need to inject something into my body every day in order to continue living, I would not have realised that I have wasted so much time, and with a life that will now probably be shorter, I should actually knuckle down and be something.

Perhaps I should be thankful.  But I am not.  I will give you credit for making me stronger, for making me more determined.  But my time spent in your company has been foul, and as I face the final day in  your presence, I’m afraid to say I cannot wait to see the back of you.  Every year brings suffering to so many, and I am thankful that I was not one of the many, many people who suffered under your reign far more than I.  I could have experienced devastating seismic activity, been trapped in a mine, hospitalised by heavy-handed authorities, trapped in a land ravaged by war.  But for me, comparatively safe here in the Western world, I’ve never had such an intensely tough time.  Whether you have made me a stronger and better person or not, you’ll get no thanks from me.  I cannot truly blame you for what my father and I have experienced, it’s not exactly ‘your fault’, but I think you can understand that I don’t want to hear from you, and I don’t ever want to see you again.

Yours sincerely,
Phill

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6 Responses to Dear 2010

  1. Flix says:

    😥

    A happier new year, please.

  2. teacherface says:

    Here’s to a different decade 🙂

  3. Phill says:

    Agreed. Let’s kick its arse.

  4. Flix says:

    It’s not a different decade, guys! Even if the iPhone is acting like it’s got a belated version of the millenium bug and three people I know missed their alarms because of Apple’s inability to recognise…uh, the date. After all, who needs a phone with signal or an alarm when you can like, play Angry Birds all day.

    I don’t know quite how

  5. Flix says:

    I don’t know quite how I managed to post that. Perhaps cos I’m typing with cautious recently repainted fingernails.

    Anyway, that needn’t have turned into making unnecessary comments about the iPhone, but it did, somehow. I’ll probably own something similar soon enough and then I shall no doubt be smited. Oh well. Point is 2010 was the new decade! Unless you don’t go by the conventional numbering system. In which case, take your pick for whenever your new decade starts. Or whatever.

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