Before now, the longest I had ever been away from my Dad (and Mom) was just about 2 months, between the beginning of AU Spring Semester 08 and Spring Break. But that was totally different. My Dad was still at home, and the distance that separated us was only temporary. I could hear his voice over the phone and to my surprise, we could even text back and forth (although I shouldn’t have doubted his texting ability!)
This separation is a hard reality to face. I’m at home, but he’s not here. I can’t go into the other room and tell him what’s on my mind, nor can I call him up on the phone. You can still find his name and number in my phone, but I wouldn’t even hear a ring if I called it. No longer can I send him an email, and I won’t find us passing each other on the road in our vehicles.
I can only find him in my heart. In my memories. In my thoughts and dreams. And someday, I will meet him in Heaven, among Jesus.
I think about him every single day. Usually memories of his last few weeks replay in my mind. Perhaps I’m still trying to process it. It happened so quickly, yet gradually. No matter what, you’re never prepared to let go.
He went into the hospital Monday, July 20th because he was so short of breath he couldn’t walk across the living room. On Tuesday, he had a minor procedure to get a PEG tube placed in his stomach. During his stay at the hospital, they gave him breathing treatments, new medications, oxygen, and anything they could do to treat his symptoms. After they had done all they could, he came back home on Friday. I just knew something wasn’t right. My cousin Darah arrived on Saturday, July 25th after traveling by bus across half the United States to come help her Uncle. The next night, Ryan arrived home from a few weeks at camps.
You could feel the tension in our house and my bottled up feelings were creating more pressure each day. We were trying to figure out all of the new equipment, new home health nurses, medications, feeding tube, and routine. I was afraid to tell anyone that I felt like my Dad wasn’t going to heal on Earth, that is everyone except Ryan. I shed tears all over Ryan, while releasing feelings that I was holding back. I just knew that my Dad didn’t have much longer, but I didn’t think he would have less than a week.
As the week went on, my Dad’s health went downhill quickly. He was constantly on oxygen, morphine, a long list of medications, and taking nothing but a few sips of water through his mouth. His feet and face were swollen, and only the swelling in his face subsided. His body began shutting down, yet no one was accepting anything less than healing. No one with the exception of me; I felt alone. I wanted healing more than anything, but I knew what was happening.
Toward the end of the week, when he could barely walk even with assistance, I couldn’t take it any longer. One night my Dad was face-to-face with death and we wouldn’t let him go. He lived a few days longer. The next day I broke down and told my Mom the hard truth that I felt was upon my heart. It was his time soon, and I had sensed this for a few weeks. I cried and cried and later I found out that Darah was in the living room with my Dad, who heard me in the other room and said, “Poor Mindy.” After talking to my cousin, Mom, & Aunt about this feeling, they still wouldn’t fully accept it.
The next day, Friday the 31st, my Dad could no longer hold himself up to walk. He could barely speak, and only said a few words that day. The nurse came to check on him, and after taking his vitals, she took my Mom aside to talk. She then invited my cousin and I, and told us she couldn’t hear a blood pressure. His pulse was around 120 BPM. She regretfully told us that he would probably pass that weekend. The truth suddenly hit.
From that moment on, everything flipped upside down. We called family members, and within the hour, two more family members were pulling up in our driveway. By that night, every family member of his surrounded him, except his poor Mother. She was in the hospital with a broken hip, totally clueless to what was going on outside of her hospital room. We were holding his hands and saying our final words. At this point, my Dad could no longer move or respond, but he was still alive. In our hearts we knew he could still hear us, and in my heart I felt like he was not suffering as it may have appeared. His body became feverish, one of the last stages.
Someone was by his side all evening and night, and my Aunt awoke us all around 8:45 AM because his breathing pattern changed. My Mom reached his side first, and there he took his last breath. His heart stopped at 9 AM on that Saturday morning, as he was welcomed into the loving arms of the Lord.
Soon the family arrived back at our house and his Mom was temporarily taken out of the hospital to see him. She was too late to see him one last time still breathing. My heart ached so much for her, and his Dad — my Grandparents. I can’t even begin to imagine or feel the pain of watching your youngest son pass before you. I wanted to comfort them, but all I could do was pray.
That was the longest day of my life thus far. Family and friends came and went; his loved ones mourned in different ways. My cousin and I wrote, my Mom danced and cried, my brother secluded himself. I could barely stay awake until midnight to welcome my 21st birthday.
Two months have passed since that day, and mourning and missing him have not really come in the form of tears since then. Until now.
I miss him.