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Phil D. Rolls

What They Don't Tell You at Fatherhood Classes

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When you get that new baby and take it home, and show it all the love it needs, and provide and care for it, they also hand you hope and fear.

Hopes for their future that they will be stong and successful. That they will be popular and secure in themselves. They will have all the happiness and opportunities that you can give them.

They will have friends and they will grow up together, and they will have long and proseperous lives. One day they'll have kids of their own, and everything will be OK.

Your biggest fear is that they will be harmed or suffer illness. As they grow these recede, and at times the only danger they are in is from you, as you explain for the umpteenth time that they cannot have everything they want.

You never anticipate that the kids they grow up with will also claim a special place in your heart. They do though, family parties, school trips and holidays together all form part of your treasured memories.

As they go into adulthood, you think you are past the worst. Your fears turn to your own generation and the health of your older loved ones.

Then out of the blue, the unthinkable happens. Not to your child, but to their best friend. I'm talking about a girl I know who has just been told she has terminal cancer.

She is 23 years old. Not old enough to have been anything, not old enough to have lived at all.

No one tells you how you deal with that. You're the older generation, you should know what to say to your daughter. You should be strong and you should be wise.

Right now I can't be any of those things. I can act like I know what to do, but I don't.

I see death in my work. Older people, or those who have abused their bodies. I think I am brave and can deal with it, and on the whole I can.

Something like this though is a reminder that there are times that all your experience. All your learning, and all your bravery count for nothing.

They can't teach you this. You just have to live it. It's so hard though.

Thanks for listening. There are tears hitting the keyboard as I type this. At least I've found a quiet corner I can scream in unheard though.

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  1. Sylar's Avatar
    Thank you FR - if I may, I'd like to share a similar story in response:

    The date was November 24th, 2002. I stood at the train station in Bathgate with a group of people I knew, barely. One of the group was a friend I had known since primary school. We grew up together, became very close - spent time together, done things together, went trips together, much like you describe. As a result, our parents grew close and the communal bond was forged. We went to high-school together and remained very close. Even after a torrid time in my 5th year, losing most (if not all) of my closest friends, over a girl (our friends were both mutual, though they all sided with her), my oldest friend stood by my side and made it that much more bearable.

    November 24th was a happy day - it was her 16th birthday, and a group of us (mostly her other friends away from school, including a small handful of girls she went to dancing with, at Bathgate Community Centre) were headed into Edinburgh on a cold, crisp winter evening. As we stood awaiting the arrival of 18:20 train onto the platform, a very attractive young girl (an obvious dancer at first sight) walked onto the platform next to me and said hello to everyone. She had a shoulder length blonde hair, a long jacket with a silver scarf and a pair of high heeled shoes which glistened in the frosty evening. I still recall marvelling at quite how attractive she was then and there. As we arrived at the club we were going to in Edinburgh, we split into small groups and went our seperate ways - perhaps a comfort thing, I don't know. At the end of the night, there was a manic rush to make sure we were all back at Waverley to get the last train back to Bathgate. As I noticed everyone running, the beautiful girl from the station in Bathgate was walking slowly out of the club, hindered somewhat by her awkward heels. I decided I would walk her back to the station and we spoke the entire way. I left her on her platform, as she was heading back on a different train (as she wasn't from Bathgate) - I walked onto the train to Bathgate with a smile and turned to my old friend and said that I really liked her friend. She smiled, and told me a little more about her. After a few days, she got in touch and told me she had given the girl my number and within weeks, we had started dating - last year, we got engaged.

    However, the story is not a happy one - on the 14th of June, 2008 - the morning I was due to graduate from my undergraduate course - I was standing outside the Caird Hall in Dundee, dressed in my kilt/graduation outfit - about 10 minutes before going into the hall, my phone received a message. I read it once, dropped the phone and felt my heart being torn from my chest as my mind processed what I'd just read. After moving to Dundee, I had lost touch with my old friend somewhat - she went to dance college in Glasgow and our lives got in the way of catching up. We spoke regularly, but by this point, hadn't spoken/seen each other in nearly 5 months. During those 5 months, she had been to the doctor with pains in her back/shoulder. She had developed an untreatable tumour which was moving towards her brain and it was inoperable. The message I had received read as such (and I'll never forget the words):

    "Scott - I'm sorry to tell you that Rebecca has died - she had terminal cancer in the brain and passed away last night. Sorry to tell you via text, but I'm too upset to speak. Love always, [name] xxx."

    There is forever more a hole in my heart from that day which won't be healed - 22 years old and gone. It still cuts me to the quick.

    Always and forever.

    x
  2. Phil D. Rolls's Avatar
    I try to remember the parable about the reed that bends with the wind, and survives, as opposed to the oak that stands tall and breaks.

    Life goes on, and there is a job to be done.
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