October of last year I lost my dad, the most painful thing I have ever endured to this day, including the loss of my mom back in March of 2014. Now, don't get me wrong, both were extremely difficult, but with dad it was different. I didn't have the best relationship with him. It was very on and off, touch and go. We both had said and done things very hurtful to one another over the years. Sadly, the only time I truly got to spend with him,while he was sober, was when he was in the hospital which was a couple of times a year. He had very poor health.
After I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ in 2013, my family didn't have a whole lot to do with me, I'm assuming it was because we didn't share the same convictions of behaviors and choices. So there were a lot of things left unsaid, parts still broken, apologies never given, wounds that still needed healing. However, with mom, I was able to spend every second of the last 12 days of her life, holding her hand and making things right, (I will be posting of this journey soon). Dad, though, as always was very different.
When I finally learned he was in the hospital this time, I went there anticipating a short stay and an opportunity to visit but, he didn't recognize me. He thought I was his sister Susan. He recognized my oldest son though, which was great for him and his acceptance of what happened. That same day, the same visit, Dad was intubated, no longer able to speak and completely unconscious. I had no idea what was going on, why he was so sick, and what was about to happen, but, I did see him and seen death in him. He was not going to make it this time. I somehow knew this. October 8th was the beginning to the end for me. I knew, that I would never get to speak to him again, that I was not going to be able to make things right, this side of heaven. I was crawling in my skin. Flooded with shame, regret, anger and absolute sadness. Although, I felt it tremendously, I was unable to show any emotion. I felt like I couldn't breathe, I had so much to say to him, but I couldn't find the words. I couldn't utter a single syllable. The silence was deafening. All that I could do was pray, pray and ask God to help me because I couldn't handle this situation. I was torn between asking God to let him live longer so that I can spend more time with him and giving God my permission (as if He needs it) to take him home to be with Him in paradise. I kept by his side, everyday, not sure what I was expecting, or even hoping for.
My dad lived a very challenging life. While, I don't know much about his childhood, I do know that like I, he did not have a good relationship with his father. He was actually very angry with his father and didn't seem to respect him much. Again, I'm not sure why. My dad was in the Navy during the Vietnam War and he took PRIDE in his country. He was very aware of the veterans and the honor and respect they deserved. Due to his time in Vietnam, he developed a skin condition caused by Agent Orange and a combination of the skin condition and poor vascular health he over a series of year, lost BOTH of his legs. He was near death countless time, suffered from heart attacks, to strokes, gangrene, sepsis, pneumonia, chronic pancreatitis, MRSA and VRE, just to name a few. He was a man that struggled with himself, battling addictions, memories, choices and close relationships. He was at war with himself daily. A struggle that most people don't understand, I know I don't. He was always fighting for something. I think it may have been severe chronic PTSD, spiritual warfare, growing pains, and time healing wounds. Either way, I very seldom seen my dad genuinely happy. That was in my mind as I sat at his bedside pleading with God for the next days to come. I didn't want him to have to live in his pain anymore, I didn't want him to have to deal with waking up and wishing that he hadn't, but I didn't want to not know where he would spend his eternity either. So all I knew to do was put it in God's hands. I didn't know what was going on in his head or his heart but I did know 3 things... God is Good, that God loves my dad far more than I could ever imagine loving him and lastly that God would not let this end without a fight. So the next several days, I trusted that God would not let my dad step into eternity without a battle.
For days, in dads unconsciousness, he had a grimace on his face, as if he were very discontent, mad or even painful look on his face. I hated this, it broke me down, I didn't want to see it and I did not have peace at all. Dad was transferred to WRMC from the VA with hopes that a surgery would be done to possibly prolong dads life. It was then that all hope of dad making it through this was gone. The doctors told us that there was absolutely nothing that could be done and that it was time to start taking away life support. While the siblings were trying to decide what to do and when, contacting family we let everyone say their goodbyes.
October 15th I came into his room, HE WAS AWAKE! His eyes were open, he would look directly at us, hold eye contact with us and even nod or shake his head.Only for a couple of hours. He no longer had that grimace on his face. It was soft, relaxed, and peaceful. There was a look in his eyes that I had never seen before and I don't even know that I could explain it, it was a fresh, new, content look. I asked him if he knew that I loved him with everything that I was and he nodded his head. It was all I could do to keep my calm, I started questioning everything, if he was awake could he make it? Should we not take him off of life support? Doctors continued to explain that everything that was going on inside was only getting worse regardless of treatment. We couldn't all agree on what to do so we did allow Dr. Thomas the Palliative Dr. to turn off his pacemaker, in the event that his heart did stop we didn't want it to be an unpleasant continuous shocking in his last moments. We went home that evening to deal with a family situation, my anxiety was so very high and I was so tired all I wanted was to be in the arms of my husband, my best friend, who could hold me as I battled in my own mind and heart. So I decided not to go back to the hospital that night but to wait til the morning.
That next morning my sister and I were about to walk out of the house to head to the hospital when she got a call from the hospital... Your dads heart stopped at 8:37........................................................................................................................................................................................ Everything else they said was fading as we were running to the car. I can't explain the feeling that I felt, I remember my sister bawling, hysterically, and there I sat, not a tear. I just kept driving... no real feelings, no real thoughts until I began to walk into his room... I was reminded I used to tell my dad that he was so mean to people that he would die alone because no one would want to be there with him... I seen him, laying there, on the hospital bed, with all of the tubes out of his body, alone, lifeless. I. broke. All I could do is hug him and apologize, over and over again, with tears rolling down my face, apologize for the things that I said, apologize for the things that I did, apologize that he was alone and I wasn't with him. I laid my head on his chest, felt warmth and held on as tight as I could. I had never, ever in my entire life cried and hurt as bad as I did in that moment. I couldn't even hold myself up.
It was that day that I realized words that are spoken leave bigger wounds than swords or guns. I don't know that my words to my dad was in his mind in his final days, but I do know they were in mine and still very much are. I battle with this often. Some say its satan trying to make me feel bad, I believe that it could be just one of those painful lessons, there is life and death in the power of the tongue. Regardless of circumstances, or how bad someone has hurt you, don't retaliate.. resist, give it to God and let Him take care of it. The pain that you feel for the choices that you make is far more hurtful than the things that have been done to you. In losing my dad, I don't sit and ponder the horrible things that he said to me, the things that he did to me, I have been reminded of the awful things I said and did to him.
I have peace today, I believe that God didn't let my father step into eternity without a battle, and I believe the battle for my fathers soul was won by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Be silent, don't say things that are hurtful, even if they are true. Resist. There will come a time when there are moments of deafening silence, many of them, in those moments PRAY. When you don't know what to pray for, trust that the Spirit of God will utter prayers for you. Take a deep breath and trust God. He is good and His love for us is beyond what we can fathom.
Reminds me of my story with my Mom. It's been 9 years and my sorrow and guilt still get me. I take comfort in knowing she is in a better place and I'm confident she's with me and loves me..I pray you are able to get the peace you so desperately deserve.
Linda I feel extremely blessed to have known you for a time and I'll never forget the day I saw you on 2500 and you told me you had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and you were so happy to share that knowledge with me. This writing of your relationship with your dad, in life and death, is truly inspired of the Lord. I have learned the hard way to make sure there are no unspoken words of love, it may be too late. It was for me. I love you my friend! ❤️
A remarkable, heart felt, loving, and beautiful remembrance of your parents, Linda. I'm certain they would be very proud of you and that they both loved you very much.
This was very touching he knew you loved him you were all great to him everyone has ups and downs you were all there for him they were great to me and I will never forget them
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