I was willing him on and was telling him, ‘Come on, Dad. You can get through this, I know you can.’ His fingers closed around my hand and I felt the smallest amount of pressure.
He could still hear me and I didn’t want to let go.
Soon after, he fell unconscious and his breathing slowed down again and he would make us all jump when he did take a breath. Everyone was in the room - Mum, William, Ben, both sets of grandparents, my Aunty Marie and Uncle Jamie, and their families. We all had our sleeping bags and planned to sleep in the room with him.
Eventually his breathing slowed and slowed and the inhalations were coming so far apart until they finally just stopped.
Everyone started crying - I just looked at him and could not believe it. I was like, ‘What? Is that it?’
I sat holding his hand for the next half an hour. As the tears ran down my face, I stroked his head. He just looked like he was sleeping. After a while I took his hand from under the cover where I was holding it. His skin was completely white and his nails and veins were so pale they were hard to see; I could not get my head around the fact there wasn’t any blood running through his arms. It didn’t make sense.
I let go of his hand and gave him one final hug, feeling his once strong body in my arms. The nurses had arrived and did the final checks. We wrapped him in his favourite Union Jack blanket so he would not get cold.
I went into the kitchen and sobbed with everyone else.
It’s like time had stopped but a while afterwards, back in the front room, I leant over to give him one final kiss. His head felt cold on my lips.
I walked away. I know the undertakers came and carried him out on a stretcher but I didn’t want to see that; see the last time he would ever be in our home. The place he was always laughing, joking, making us breakfast, helping us with our homework. It didn’t seem real.
…Waking up in the morning, my first thought was that it was a normal Saturday and I needed to go training and then I remembered and I felt terrible beyond words.
Rest in Paradise, Robert Daley. Thank you for raising your amazing son to be the best person he could be. You will always be celebrated for the joy you brought to the people around you. x