I've always had a pretty positive outlook on life, wanting to enjoy it as much as possible, but there was one painful event in November 2016 which emphasized this point to me more strongly than ever.
While enjoying myself on a short city break with a friend in Lisbon my Dad suddenly and unexpectedly took seriously ill. He had went into hospital with breathing difficulties, believing it was just a chest infection and that he would be out in a few days. I had even spoken to him on the phone just a day or two before I went away and although mentioning he had a chest infection, he sounded absolutely fine and no different to normal. His condition got worse and worse while I was away however, and through tests they discovered other problems with his lungs. It eventually turned out he had scarring on his lungs, a blood clot and pneumonia. All of which seemed to come pretty quickly and out of nowhere - it was only the following week he was supposed to be coming to London to spend time with me and my Sister.
I had been back from Lisbon for one day when I received a phone call from a family member back home in Carlisle to say that my Dad's condition had gotten much worse and that they were putting him into an induced coma and that I should go home as soon as I can as he may not have long left. It was too late to get a train that night but I got one as soon as I could the following morning. By the time I got back to Carlisle my Dad had woke from his coma but was still in intensive care, was breathing on a machine and receiving a lot of medication.
Once I was in Carlisle I visited him every day. He was unable to talk due to the tubes he had in him which were keeping him breathing, but he could just about write down messages using a pen and paper so we could still communicate. Seeing him lying there in that condition, scared and struggling to breathe even with the aid of a machine; knowing that he was still completely the same person inside himself, completely aware of everything, desperate to get better but couldn't, it was the most heartbreaking and difficult thing I have had to go through.
Each day we would only receive bad news from the doctors and there seemed to be little hope, as despite all the treatment he was receiving, my Dad just wasn't making any improvements. In the end after doing all that they could for him, the doctors stopped all treatment, took him off the machine that was keeping him alive and me, my sister and the rest of my family sat by his bedside and watched him die peacefully.
I can't help now but think about all the things that my Dad still wanted to do in his life but now will never be able to. He had always wanted to go to Barcelona for example, yet every time he and his friends went away they would have a vote on where they would go and he was always ever the only one who would suggest Barcelona. Instead they would go to the same place over and over again. In the end my Dad decided to follow my example and just go there by himself and so he had booked to go in February. I was really looking forward to him going as I know it is something he always wanted to do and I know he would have loved it! I only wish he had decided to just go for it sooner!
The week before I went to Portugal I was talking to my Dad on the phone thinking all was well and really looking forward to him visiting London and doing the things we had planned, just a couple of weeks later I return from Lisbon and my Dad is in intensive care and died not long afterwards. It was that quick and sudden!
It is for this reason that I always try to make the most out of life. It is why I always try to do all of the things that I want to do and why I go away at any given opportunity even though I do not have loads of money. If anything similar ever happens to me, I want to lie on my bed knowing that I had made the most out of the one life we get, not wishing I had done things sooner.
So although I am still finding it hard to feel like myself again I am even more determined than ever to follow my dreams and to spend my time on Earth doing what I love. Not only for myself but also for my Dad.
I am going to make the most out of life. I will chase my dreams. I will live without regret. I will not let fear hold me back. I will put everything I can into my photography. I will put all my efforts into getting to where I want to be.
I will make you proud Dad.