The following story is written by Josefine Kågenäs, she was only 16 years old when this was published in the magazine Stroke- Kontakt 2005.

Hello Daddy

What I'm now going to say, you and I have never really spoken about before. We have scratched a little on the surface of that great iceberg, but never really dug deeper so that it hurts! On the one hand I feel scared about doing this, on the other hand you told me that it would help me to work through the things that have happened, and that's why I'm doing this.

Everything started that morning ,the 28th. January 2003. I had helped Fia revise for a maths test the evening before and was really irritated when Mum came running into my room at 6 o'clock in the morning shouting that I had to get up. I remember thinking that she must want me to help Fia again and mumbled back some kind of sulky answer.

Then everything becomes like a thick fog. Madde comes into my room, half terrified, half hysterical saying that I have to get up because something has happened, to you daddy!
I get up out of bed, leave the room and go to look in to your's and mum's bedroom.

You are laying there. You are laying there and mumbling something incomprehensible while mum is talking to someone on the phone.
By her terrified voice and the road directions she is giving I realize she is talking to SOS.

Then I don't really know what happens, but suddenly I am sitting at the kitchen table, trying to comprehend what is going on.

-That you've probably had a stroke!

-That it is very important that you get to the hospital as quickly as possible, otherwise perhaps you'll die.

Everything is hysterical, everybody is running around in circles while I'm trying to feel something. I remember thinking that I must react in some way, start to cry or something.
So I do, but I feel completely empty inside and no real tears come - the tears just come because they should come, so that nobody will think that I'm heartless!

I hear the sirens outside. The door opens and some paramedics run in. Some minutes or seconds later, it may even have been hours, I have no conception of time, they come down.
With you, daddy. Sitting in some strange construction, completely lifeless! You are awake and yet remote in another world and you mumble something confused while you look at me. It was the first time I saw you like that, daddy. So helpless! Like a child!
You have lost your pride and it hurts so much to see you like that and I at last wake up and understand. And I start to cry...for real this time. Then everything gets blurred again. Mummy is crying and repeats desperately time after time that she can't cope, she can't cope with this.

We sit in the car, in mummy's red Golf and our neighbour Camilla is driving us in. Mummy is sitting in the passenger seat and crying, shaking and repeats hysterically that she can't cope. Camilla holds her hand while we're driving to Västerås and listening to Christina Aguilera's song "You are beautiful" playing 100 times over.
When I see you again you are laying on a stretcher. You have just been for an X-ray and you turn your head towards us and cry. You have a questioning look and you cry. It was the first time I saw you cry, daddy.

Then they wheeled you into a room. A white, cold room. You just lay there, completely alone and we cry. Camilla tries to get us, to get me to go in and talk to you but I just get angry. Don't you understand how difficult it is!? I want to shout at her. But when the crying calms and I feel strong enough to go in to you, then I do. I walk forward and take your hand while I'm fighting back the tears. I will be strong for your sake, show you that you don't have to be afraid. You look at me and mumble something that I don't understand. It's like a stab at my heart to see you like that, laying there like a packet that can't move or talk. You take my hand in your left hand ,the only one you can move and ask me to pinch you on your right leg. I nod and pinch you a couple of times but you don't feel anything. You start to understand. I start to cry because I can't be strong any more, I can't stand there any more while you begin to realize that you'll never be able to feel your right side again.
Then you do something that I'll never forget. You take my hand in yours and stroke my cheek.
You wipe away my tears even though it should be the opposite. Even though your life is destroyed and will never be the same.

You cry a lot during the first weeks we come to visit you. You try to tell us that you cannot cope with this, but your mouth doesn't obey you and everything that comes out is just a mumble that we try to translate.
And we, we sit there with a strained look on our faces as we refuse to cry in front of you. You must leave you with some hope!

When you come home from the hospital and start to learn to eat with your right hand I just can't stand it. I always place a cornflakes packet, unconsciously, between you and me so that I don't have to see my strong, proud father struggling with something so simple as lifting a spoon to his mouth.

In my head I have a picture that says everything. It is a picture of you walking along a path through the open fields at home. How you fight to walk the whole way and keep your balance in the uneven terrain. Even though you really want to give up, you don't-you fight on. Even though you are paralysed, you walk. That's the way it is- you died that morning the 28th of January. You died. But you started to live again. You lost the feeling in your right side and that you'll never get back.
But you fought your way back. From not being able to sit on the edge of the bed without falling to being able to walk, to workout at the gym and to being a driving member of the committee of the Stroke Association.

A few weeks ago I watched you even run!!
You are my knight in shining armour. My hero. And I love you!

Author: Josefine Kågenäs
Printed on the home page 12th August 2006.