I find myself forgetting more and more about the past 3 months. I wish so much I would’ve written through the process. So many things happened that I knew I would want to remember I just couldn’t seem to get myself to want to write it. I believed writing it would make it real, and it was the darkest nightmare I was hoping to wake from every day. The best I can do is go back now, and write all I can remember. It may come sporadically, the good mixed with the bad, but I need to have it somewhere I can revisit.
It was Sunday evening and my mom, two sisters, and I were gathered in my parents living room watching the finale of Emily’s season of the Bachelorette. We always loved her, and were so excited to be together to watch her entire season. My middle sister lives overseas, and always seems to miss out on most of the fun. She was here the whole time Dad was sick since we did not have any idea of how long he would have left. We were all going to my sister’s to have a watching party, while my uncle would stay with Dad. Dad was having a hard day, and mom didn’t want to leave him so my sisters decided to come back to my parents so we could all watch the episode together. It seems so silly, but the Lord used that show to make sure we would all be together on Dad’s last night.
It took us about 3 1/2 hrs to get through the episode, and we all didn’t seem to care much about what was happening, though we had been so wrapped up in it all season. It was so irrelevant compared to what was happening in the other room. Dad was having a really bad night. He seemed to be struggling with his breathing, and his right rib was bulging. We were concerned he may have cracked a rib & punctured a lung the day before.
The day before he was lucid for a few hours and was begging my sister and I to let him go to the kitchen or go outside for a little bit. He had been bed ridden for at least 3 weeks at this point. He was always a meaty man, with a nice big belly, but his legs were always really muscular. His legs and arms became literally nothing but skin and bones. He would bend his knees while lying down, and you could see his entire shin bone as his skin would just dangle from his leg. Hospice had brought us a new mattress that we needed to switch out on his bed, and he continued to beg to get up so we told him we could get him in his wheelchair and maybe we could wheel him outside for a bit. At this point he had not quite realized how incapable he had become. He would tell us “You have to let me walk around, I’m gonna die in this bed if you don’t let me get up.” He did not have enough strength in his legs to support himself which is why we couldn’t allow him to walk around. He never seemed to comprehend how weak he had become, until this moment. My husband Jack and my brother in law picked him up, and moved him into his chair. He only made it to the end of the chair, and began trying to scoot himself to the back. We never got to take him to the backyard or even out of the room he was in. He was so close to the edge of the chair we couldn’t move him. He wouldn’t allow the guys to help him scoot back, as he wanted to do it himself. He sat in the chair for 30 minutes and wore himself out trying to move. He exerted so much energy he eventually could no longer speak or hold his own head up so we had to make an executive decision and move him back to bed.
That was the last time we heard Dad speak.
Once he was back in bed he just slept the rest of the day. I believe the realization of the severity of the situation sunk in with him that day. In the hospital the doctors told him he had 6 months to a year with radiation. We all knew it would be faster than that, but Dad never thought it would. He thought he had a year to take care of his business, tie up his loose ends, and savor every moment with his family. That day he realized he was near the end.
Sunday he only woke a few times, and drank a few sips here and there. That evening was when we noticed his rib and labored breathing. Mom ended up calling hospice about 10pm to ask a few questions. While she was on the phone my two sisters and I shared one of the most memorable moments and experiences we had throughout this entire journey. We were gathered around his bed and he was sleeping so soundly. We began singing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. As we were signing, he woke and opened his eyes real wide. We could see him reaching for the words to tell us how much he loved us, but we had to settle for him just telling us with his eyes. He had a little fear, and sadness in his eyes, but so much love. We were all crying as we knew that moment with him was one of our last.
Hospice came out at midnight, and recommend we give him more morphine as his “dying process” had begun. He left lung had completely stopped working and she could tell his right lung was filling with fluid. She estimated he may still have a couple of days, but that he needed to be comfortable. We all ended up heading home about 2:30am, thinking we would see him tomorrow.
Monday morning I woke at 9:55am, and rushed to get ready to head straight to see Daddy. At 10:05, I was outside waiting for my dog to do his business when my phone rang. My sister was on the other end and said, “Daddy is gone.” My knees went weak. I could not process the words I had just heard, but the tears were already streaming from my face. It was unfathomable. Again, I closed my eyes to hope I would wake from the nightmare, but it just became more real than it had ever been before.
The rest of the day is a journey to be shared at a different time, but I will leave you with a song that allowed me to envision what I know my sweet Daddy was being rewarded with on that day.