Thursday, 4 May 2017

Article for Huffington Post UK's Life Less Ordinary series - I Watched My Stepdad Die and No Longer Fear Death

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On the morning of 3rd October 2008 in sunny Egypt, I watched my stepdad die.
I was on holiday with my mum and stepdad and it was the second time that we had all been on holiday together. The first one was the best holiday (and still is) I had ever been on, so I was equally excited the second time round and I had high hopes for the week ahead.
My stepdad, Bill (or Billy Bob or William if he was in trouble) used to say “it is only money...” which usually resulted in him spending way too much or splashing out on us all. He lived life to the full and needed a goal or a reason to go to work every day and work as hard as he did. Booking holidays and gigs were important to him and it taught me to always have a target and a reason to go to work. I supposed he worked and played hard, so booking me my own luxury room in an amazing hotel in Egypt was no big deal to him, but to me it was everything.
sophie and bill
The first day of the holiday was just as I had hoped, full of Egyptian heat, delicious food and just lazing around the swimming pool. While sunbathing, we planned our second day and what we would be doing. The day sounded amazing. Bill was a well-known face in Luxor and he had planned little VIP trip to see the sites for me. What more could I possibly ask for?
That morning, the 3rd October 2008, was like a normal morning on holiday and Bill was on fine form as always. We were around the swimming with many other people and simply lazing about soaking the heat and heaven in.
Bill was winding me up and, to my forever regret, I was snapping back.
Our last conversation was something like “Oh Bill, sometimes I do hate you...” and he replied with “what’s that? You hate me?” while jumping into the pool.
Then he was gone.
He was smiling so I hope he knew I didn’t really or at all ever hate him or never even came close - I just snapped. But that is something I must live with forever.
Bill jumped into the swimming pool, planning to swim across to the pool bar to get us a bottle of water. As he jumped in I was sitting on the side of the pool and I noticed that he didn’t come back up properly. As I watched him it felt like an eternity. Every thought process was going through my head; scrambling around trying to find a solution and to make my body move.
I will never forget what happened next. I finally moved and jumped into the pool. I screamed to my mum for help; I will never forget that scream. I knew we were losing him in the most horrendous way possible and to an audience. An audience of holiday makers who should be having the time of their lives, not watching a man die.
We got Bill out of the pool and he had an even bigger crowd now; apparently watching a man die is good viewing? The lifeguard didn’t have a clue what to do, the doctor kept being sick while pumping away on his chest, everyone was screaming and crying and my mum was begging for him to live. He got piled into an empty van, a make-shift ambulance, and I was numb.
I sat on my own watching, soaking wet and saying my goodbyes. I knew he was gone. I knew I would have to tell the family. I knew we would be flying home with a spare seat. I knew my life would never be the same again. I knew a heart attack has just killed my stepdad.
I will be forever in shock and I will replay that day in my mind forever. I will never be the same again. But I know what life means now and I am not scared of dying. It is not a cliché at all; live your life and take that moment or memory whenever you can. Have a goal, have a dream and have a reason. Always appreciate who and what you have and please never leave anything on a bad note. You will always regret it. I promise.

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