A Shock for Christmas

Just before Christmas, 2011, I was given the terrible news that Abi’s tumour had ‘progressed’. Her surgeon wanted to operate again. He had scheduled surgery for early January 2012.

Abi seemed fabulously healthy, so I’d convinced myself that she had long overcome illness. So I was in shock at the surgeon’s revelations. I began playing out lots of morbid scenarios in my mind, where, having lost my youngest daughter, I would be deep in grief. I knew it was all unhealthy self-pity, but I was afraid.

As the news sunk in, I struggled to keep my composure. Tears were but a breath away. It was Christmas, which should be a joyous time, but I didn’t know if I could be a strong, happy daddy. I wasn’t sure that I could share the children’s joy. Would I be able to watch Abi play without worrying about her?

Yet I knew that a strong, happy daddy would be the greatest present I could give my children that Christmas. So I steeled myself, in the best tradition of British stoicism, and managed to put to one side my worries. Instead of manifesting morbid scenarios, I meditated on Abi coming home a few days after surgery, happy and healthy. I kept reminding myself that surgery was for the best because the tumour needed removing. So, despite my anxiety, the girls and I managed to have a lovely time that Christmas.

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