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One Moment to Mark a Lasting Change

Have you ever stopped to think about a moment in your life that changed everything? Whether it changed you as a person, the course of your life or those around you, that one moment was such a significant one that you will never forget it.

This is what I thought about when I wrote this piece:

It’s amazing how something small and so seemingly insignificant can affect your whole life. But one call, just one phone call was all it took to change everything. Back then, almost twelve years ago, I was aware that my father had regular check-ups to find out whether the asbestos on his lungs had moved or changed. For ten years he had known about this small piece of poison sitting on his diaphragm. No one could say whether, if at all, it was likely to cause any ill effects. But it couldn’t be removed and so it remained there, a silent, but potentially deadly, ticking bomb.

In 2002, the annual x-ray showed a shadow and tests revealed fluid on the lung. The asbestos had awoken from its slumber, triggering the bomb and setting off a new timer, one that would be the count down to the end of my father’s days.

That was when the phone call came. I was at work at the time. My mother explained that the asbestos had caused a type of cancer to form, called Mesothelioma. It was present in the lining of his lungs and on the diaphragm and it could not be treated with chemo or radio therapy. There was nothing they could do.

After speaking to my mum I remember putting the phone down and staring at my computer screen in shock. I didn’t believe her at first. This was the sort of thing that happened to other people, to people you hear about on the television. It wasn’t real life, it wasn’t happening to my family.

I looked up the condition on the internet, desperate to find something that would show they were all wrong. But I didn’t find anything, there was only one prognosis; death.

It was with a heavy heart and much resentment that I watched my father turn from a lively outgoing character, to a shrunken, depressed recluse. The pain came quickly and within a year he was gone.

It was the 20th April, 2003, an Easter Sunday and a day that I will never forget.

One moment to change everything. For my father, that moment was the day he went to work and unknowingly breathed in a deadly poison. For me it came when I found out that the day we had all been dreading had finally arrived. There was no chance of surviving it; no hope. One phone call that marked the beginning of something that would change our lives forever.

Sharing this for What I’m Writing.

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Comments (0)

  1. Mummy Tries 9th December 2014 at 10:43 am

    Oh Nikki how heartbreaking! It’s reminded me of being 11 or 12 and watching my mother take the phone call from her sister telling her my Grandma had passed away. Sad memories. Hugs xxx

  2. maddy@writingbubble 9th December 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Oh Nikki, my heart broke for you when I read this. I’m so sorry about what happened to your Dad. It’s so unfair that asbestos had such a devastating impact on your family. Lots of love (and thanks for linking up) xxx

    • Nicola Young 9th December 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Sorry, didn’t mean to depress you – I wrote this when thinking about a pivotal moment in my life, one that changed it in a really significant way. It could also be a happy moment, like the birth of your first child or something.

  3. Rachael 9th December 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Beautifully written, so touching. Took me to my own moment, which was actually two: Receiving the phone call that my mum had slipped into a coma after complaining of a headache for just one day, and standing at Liverpool Street station a week later, hearing that she hadn’t made it. Devasting and yes, changed my life forever. Thanks for sharing your story. x

  4. mytravelmonkey 9th December 2014 at 3:20 pm

    What an emotional story and one filled with such sadness. I’m sorry that happened to your dad, especially after you were telling me about your time together in Goa. You are right though, it takes one moment in time, one decision, or something out of your hands that can change your whole life…

  5. Iona@redpeffer 9th December 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Such a heartfelt description of how fragile life and time can be. So sorry that you and your family had to experience this x

  6. sophieblovett 9th December 2014 at 4:57 pm

    This is such a powerful piece of writing. I was almost hoping as I read it that it wasn’t autobiographical, though clearly it is. Thank you for sharing such a moving reflection x

  7. Emily Organ 9th December 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Like Sophie I was hoping this was fiction, how sad to read that it is true. That phone call must have been so hard for your mum to make and for you to listen to. Beautifully written.

  8. deskmonkeymummy 10th December 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Heartbreaking and beautifully written. Such a sad moment for you and your mum and such sad memories to follow. Like Sophie, I was hoping this was fiction as I read it. Everything can pivot on a moment.
    Thank you for sharing this memory with us for #whatimwriting x

  9. Louise 13th December 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Such a heartbreaking post – so sorry for the loss of your dad x

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