Philip Standing

How were we to know that this was the last day of Phil’s life? I had received a text on Wednesday June 27th at 7pm. “Looking forward to seeing you at the weekend, love Phil.”

I had been on a ‘Mentors’ course at Southampton General Hospital on the Thursday afternoon, stimulating and interesting. I had bought a dress for my friend’s wedding on the way home. Keith – my husband of 8 weeks, but friend and partner for 16 years – had been at Mottisfont as usual working in the grounds. We were just doing the simple ordinary things of everyday life. No signs or symptoms of the tragedy awaiting Phil, Kate, Oliver, Ben, Ruth, Keith, myself and so many others.

I had spoken to Michael (Phil’s Uncle) on the phone at 7pm; how was I to know or even comprehend that Phil was taking his last breath. Phil – the strong one; the hard worker; the sportsman; the handsome one; the amusing one; the good friend; the man with the twinkling smile, a beautiful wife and adorable twin sons Oliver and Ben so dear to his heart.

The tea was poured, the tablets taken, the 10pm news just started and then the ring of the phone. Such a common tool, the bringer of friendship, arrangements and news………

It was a police lady who said Kate Standing wanted to talk to me. How can so many scenarios run through your mind in an instant, all in the process of problem solving, and yet never hinting at the tragedy about to unfold?


“Oh Sue it is bad, so bad, it is very bad, they could not resuscitate Phil……”

“My dear Kate, we will come to you, yes of course I will come to the hospital with you…”

The silence, the receiver replaced and my repeated question to Keith “is that what Kate said?”

Then there was drive up the familiar M3, empty and dark. A call to Mark (my son-in-law in Brisbane) ensuring he was with Ruth, my daughter, Phil’s big sister. I yearned for his support and understanding, and then….… the disbelief, the scream, the heartache and then Ruth’s voice, so hurt, so torn, so unbelieving of the shattering of her life again (Ruth and Phil’s Dad had died of cancer when they were young, taken from them by such a cruel disease).

Keith and I arrived late at Phil’s home, already shrouded in gloom. Diana (Kate’s Mum) already there supporting Kate, the boys asleep, so untouched as yet by this tragedy. A police car arrived and Kate and I were driven to Paddington hospital.

Dear Kate was so sorrowful, disbelieving, and heartbroken. Every road seemed to have overnight road works, so many twists and turns. We even ended up at Shepherd’s Bush!

How this journey could be repeated. It was here, stuck in traffic that Paul (Ruth and Phil’s father) and I try to comprehend ‘terminal’ so many years ago, yet ringing in my head, bringing desolation of that day to life and yet soon to be diminished by that of our son’s death.

How could Phil be dead?

Kate explained he had been at Lords for a corporate event. All had been well, Phil laughing and joking with friends, bowling a few overs and then no more! He felt unwell, left the pitch, sat down and fell to the floor. It was 7pm – gone! Friends, instant CPR and paramedics could not resuscitate him. He was gone with no goodbye, no long life, no smile, just no more.

Why, why had my beautiful son stopped being? What had happened?

We arrived at the hospital and were greeted so respectfully and kindly; and then there was Phil, peaceful. He looked so beautiful, just blissfully asleep, a slight smile, eyes closed contentedly and yet no life. Gone was the alertness, the strength and the power. Gone was the handsome man, the loving man, the honest man, Kate’s man. Her strength, her passion, her love of her life just ended.

Kate’s kisses and passion could not arouse him, just a loving goodbye to one who was 100% committed to his wife, his sons, his family, his friends and his work.

How could we tear ourselves away from that last touch, that glimpse of our most precious man? How can that last breath not last a life time?

A fitful sleep and then to begin the daily routine for Phil’s sons, Oliver and Ben. A day for them spent as usual with Mandy (a very special child-minder). No signs for them of the sadness yet to come.

But for us, more pain as we share our agony and grief with our nearest and dearest. The shock, the pain beyond belief and yet a glimpse of a smile as memory re-awakens old joys.

I relish in these old joys, the memories of 30 years, from babyhood to manhood; but it is the loss of his future, his joys and the love to have been shared that cuts to the very core of my being, the devastation of no more.

Sue Fisher, Phil’s Mum