Shift Happens

This is my post for Josie’s writing workshop at Sleep Is For the Weak. I chose prompt 2: Tell me about a time when you had a moment of realisation and knew that something HAD to change.

When I arrived, they were wheeling you into the lift as I reached the top of the stairs. That in itself was remarkable. Coincidence. Destiny.

I felt the shift then.

My mouth didn’t work. There was something wrong with my eyes. I reached a hand towards you , ‘That’s…that’s my…Dad?’

You were almost unrecognisable. Shrivelled. Shrunken. Grey. The size of a child. I really wasn’t sure it was you.

You looked at me with rheumy eyes and tried to lift a hand. The porters looked at you for confirmation of my identity and you tried to speak. I wondered if you would deny me. But you nodded. Opened your mouth. No sound came.

In the lift, I tried to breathe. Tiny little breaths. I wanted to run outside and draw great gulps of air into my lungs. I could hear the life in me. My heart. My blood.

You looked bloodless and scared. I stood, squashed against the doors and smelt your fear.

In the corridor. Waiting. I put out my hand and patted yours tentatively. You tried a smile. ‘Bit of a mess hey Dad?’ I whispered.  A tear trickled down your cheek  and spread into the hospital gown. You turned your hand over and squeezed mine. Your speech was so slurred that I struggled to understand what you said, ‘I’ve been a bit of a silly bugger’ and another tear trickled to join the first.

The strength in your hand had gone. It lay in mine. Diminished.


I tried to listen to the doctor as he explained procedures and risks to you, talked about the damage you had done how your recovery would be hampered by your alcohol dependence, how you might not recover. You tried to talk but he couldn’t understand you and looked to me for help. Between us the forms were signed and permissions given. I could feel their urgency. You had to go.

It was like being in a film. Everything else receded and it was just you and me. Main characters. In the spotlight. You wouldn’t let go of my hand and I couldn’t let go of yours.

You made a mammoth effort to speak,’Will you be here when I come back?’ I nodded.

I felt the shift again.

As they wheeled you away, you watched me and I watched you until you disappeared.

I stood in the corridor and sobbed and the shift was complete. I would be there if you came back.


Filed under Writing Workshop

25 responses to “Shift Happens

  1. Beautiful yet harrowing Chris. An excellent piece of evocative writing. I have such a clear picture. Thank you for sharing such an emotional time

  2. That’s so harrowing and deeply touching. Beautifully evoked. No wonder you had to go out for a while afterwards. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Oh Christine you describe that moment so vividly😦 It made my heart ache – I couldn’t help but picture my dad in that scenario. How awful that must have been. Your sense of shock, of trying to hold it together, you capture it so well.

    You must have been so strong to stay strong for your dad. I don’t know the rest of the story – I hope he came through and recovered, that you all did.

    Thanks so much for writing this xx

    • Thank you. I have only done your workshop twice, as you know, and your prompts are prompting some serious self evaluation. I had no intention of writing this. I sat down to write about my nickname and this came pouring out. Dad survived, he is learning to live again and we are building a fragile friendship. I know these posts are exhausting for you and I really appreciate your commenting. xxx

  4. A beautiful but sad piece, alcoholism is not an issue I’ve been exposed to.

    Thanks for sharing those feelings.

  5. Oh my! That WAS painful. Beautifully captured, Chris. Thank you for sharing x

  6. What a beautiful piece of writing. There are so many great posts on Josie’s Writing Workshop and this one is outstanding.

  7. EmmaR

    My heart stopped briefly reading that and I am crying now. That is powerful writing. My reaction naturally is partly due to my own experiences, alcoholism being a topic with which I am all too familiar. I want to turn back the clock and be there to support you. It sounds just too painful to experience alone. Wonderful writing. Painful experiences. As people keep telling me “there is growth through pain” and I guess that this experience did lead to change x

  8. That was beautifully written. So sad and painful for you, I’m sure, but thanks for sharing. x

  9. Wow. This is an amazing post. You are an awesome writer, and I can feel your pain. I’m glad he came back and that you are starting to rebuild your relationship. Thank you for sharing x

  10. I’m sitting at my laptop with goosebumps on my arms and tears running down my cheeks. My goodness, what a stunning piece of writing x

  11. Wow-that was tough, for you and to read cause you can feel your pain.

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