On a Sunday night in July, I saw my dad die.
We argued over trivial details that afternoon (McDonald's, buses and the weather), and reached a moment of comfortable detachment within an awkward silence. Afterwards, he was preparing a snack for himself. I was texting someone. He asked if I wanted to watch a film. I said that'd be great.
Within a minute, I heard him cough. This was not unusual, but then I heard him struggle to force out the words "Lily*, I'm having an attack."
I jumped up and ran immediately to him, phone at ready to dial emergency services. Then I saw the blood.
As I was on the phone to paramedics, I stayed calm. I don't know how. I gave every piece of information required with perfect control and detail, as I watched blood pouring - like a tap on full blast, like a waterfall - out of my dad's mouth and into the kitchen sink. Some of it bright, some of it dark, some of it thick like tar, some of it clotted and clumped. It just kept coming.
I confirmed he was alive. I confirmed he could hear me. I confirmed he had a pulse.
Until he slumped backwards, and slid down to his bottom, leaning back against the oven. He wasn't breathing anymore. His skin began to turn purple. The blood flooded down his shirt, then clotted around his mouth. The life left his eyes. They were wide. They were wild. They were frightened. They were shocked and pained and scared.
I struggled to drag him flat onto his back. I have spastic hemiplegia, which makes one entire side of my body almost completely useless. It spasmed and curled like a foetus as I began one-handed chest compressions. I compressed the wrong locations, but I kept going. I was pleading and exhausted and drenched in blood, but I kept going until the ambulance arrived.
They did everything. They were amazing. By the time they drained his airways of the blood, however, it was far too late.
Truthfully, the moment he left, I knew that was it - he was gone. I knew he wasn't coming back. I knew there was no way of surviving something like that.
I kept my composure all night. I was the strong one among weeping neighbours and friends congregating during the commotion. I was the one who dealt with the coroners, the police, the ambulance services. I touched his hand and kissed his forehead and stroked his cheek before they took him away from me. He felt so cold.
I showered twice, but I still feel the blood. I feel it on my arm and shoulder. I feel it across my chest. I feel it matted in my hair and I can taste it in my mouth.
On a Sunday night in July, I saw my dad die, and he took my soul with him.