The story of Derek Derbyshire experiencing the worst pain that a human could receive: Grief.
(Based on Daniel McLaughlin's personal experiences.)
What is the worst pain that a human can experience? Childbirth? Nah. A good old kick in the balls? Not even close. Yes, alright I'm sure they hurt...alot, but my point is that they are nothing compared to what I've been through; and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemies.
That pain is grief.
What?! You were expecting me to say getting stung by a jellyfish? There's a cure for that and for childbirth just give the woman some morphine. The kick in the balls just needs some deep breathing and eventually it'll go away. Grief doesn't and this is my story...
October 2008, that month is a fixed point in my life.
"Monsieur Derbyshire, c'est va?" asked my French teacher in a language that the French wouldn't even understand. Why? He has a blunt Lancashire accent and that doesn't really compliment the French language at all. "Erm...wee bin, mon-sure?" I replied hesitantly. You wouldn't believe it but I was going to have my French GCSE exam the following week. "Derek, you and 30 others have an examination next week and the school need this department to achieve A*-C. You cannot fail, comprehende muchacho?" he said in his dreary voice. No wonder I was confused, he had switched to Spanish and that exam weren't for a month!
"C'est le chuffin' vie, sir!" I said in my Jacques Closeau voice.
"Life does not go on if you fail, Derek. I will make sure of it." he said snappily. At this point he was nose-to-nose to me, I could smell his cheap aftershave and my eyes were watering. The bell rang and the class scattered. I gave him a wink and said, "Oui, sir, oui!" Then I scattered, if I wouldn't have done he would have scattered me over the school playing fields.
I was top of the world, in my prime. Nothing could stop me! Walking out the school gates is always a relief to any child and I were no different. In fact I was whistling the French national anthem. I glanced over the gate and I could see a burgundy Land Rover approaching the front. 'Perfect! I don't have to walk now!' I thought.
"Good afternoon!" I greeted my dad chirpily. I looked at him and for once in my life I did not see the jolly Lancastrian I had come to known, I saw a grey face trying to show no emotion. "I'm gonna drop you off at our house and I'm going to go to t'hospital." he said in a monotone voice. I looked at him worryingly, something was wrong. "Your Uncle Jim is ill." he finished.
* * *
I heard the car approach the drive-way and the rain began to fall. Something was wrong but I dd not know what. For some reason I froze in my seat and my body became numb. Footsteps echoed up the stairs and I heard a tiny whimper. 'What on earth?' I thought. The footsteps kept on climbing for what seemed like an eternity and then the door slung open. My Auntie entered and she looked like her whole life had been taken out of her body. "What's wrong?" I asked and then she broke down in tears.
"I'm sorry, Derek but your Uncle Jim has had an heart attack and...and...he passed away an hour ago." said my Auntie who had struggled to even speak this sentence. All of a sudden the whole world turned into a blur and emotions were pouring out my body. I eventually broke down and fell to the floor. Uncle Jim couldn't be dead, he was so full of life and soul, he was invincible and yet he had passed on. Why at this time of my life did this happen?
I ran to the safety of my own room and swooped under the sheets. No-one could find me, I would remove myself from life. The bubble burst when my Dad shouted, "Derek, we're all upset! We are all feeling the pain!" "NO! It's just me! Me! God hates ME!" I shouted selfishly. I heard him leave the room but I wanted him to stay and comfort me, I was heart-broken and he was leaving me alone. Why ME?!
Then I stopped. I stopped and thought deeply about the situation I was facing. It wasn't just me. What about my poor auntie? Her husband, her soul-mate, the man she had loved for more than 25 years was removed from her life. She was now alone on Earth.
I crept downstairs, full of guilt from my selfishness and ran straight to her. "Come on, Auntie Ann." I said and hugged her. We were both crying on each other's shoulders. "I am so sorry," I cried to her. She stopped and looked at me, she was so strong. She smiled and said, "I'll be reight, chuck!" in her typical Lancashire accent, "I bet he's up there with a glass of Bell's whiskey and laughing at us dopey buggers!" she said reassuringly. "Stop mithering and cheer up!"
* * *
The grief was too hard to bear and is the worst pain you can experience but you've got to move on. People like my Auntie and Uncle both valued life and they knew one day it all had to come to an end. My Auntie died the following March so it was incredibly hard for me. But it's always promising to know that they are in safe hands now.
One last comment:
"C'est le chuffin' vie!"