It’s been 3 days of something I’m not sure what to call. Putting words on what has happened feels a bit pointless but utterly important. On the inside I’m angry and sad and fearless and brave and a tiny baby who just wants to curl up and forget there is something called “a world”. Confused.
When I went to the hospice 3 days ago to see my dad, I found him in a deep sleep. Well, maybe not so deep but I couldn’t wake him and didn’t make much of an effort to try anyway. The nurse came in and sat down to talk. Nothing really important, but she asked if I had a job I needed to get back to and when school would begin etc.
After she left my dad came to and turned his head towards me asking what I had talked to the nurse about. I was a little surprised he was that conscious… but told him what I had spoken to the nurse about and then said “your life is coming to an end…” but didn’t get further because the look in my dad’s eyes changed into shock and I grabbed his hand holding on tight, telling him “you know that already, dad”. But he began crying saying that he didn’t know. I have no idea how I remained calm in the minutes that followed, but I kept talking to him; “You have lived your life. You did a good job. You made your mark and both your kids are doing fine. We treasure the joy of life you taught us. We are grateful. But it’s okay to let go now, dad. Just relax and breath… just breath. It’s okay…”. Thankfully he then fell back into a deep sleep and I could slowly let go of his hand and walked out.
I was baffled that he didn’t know. I know that he knew. I know that he had been told several times both at the hospital and hospice. I know my brother had asked him some “hard questions” etc. I know that he knew!! Was he in such denial that he simply refused to face it? Did he just forget? Without thinking further I went out to wait for the nurse and when she came, she took one look at me and knew I needed to talk. Inside the reflection room I told her what had happened. Tears just streamed down my cheeks… Even now I can’t grasp the knowledge that I told my dad he is going to die. I know it’s a process for me too, but his reaction was just more than I could take. When I came back into the room I couldn’t make contact and we left shortly after.
Yesterday I came to see him again and he hung on to my hand. His eyes are taking me in, like I don’t think he’s done ever before. He makes the huge effort it is for him to lift his arm and gently touch my cheek. The longing in his eyes to tell me something is just too hard to bear when the man can barely speak. So I told him that I know; “I know, dad. I know you love me. I love you too. Just relax and rest and breath. Nice and easy”. That’s what I tell him. The look of him looking into my eyes… is a sight that will stay with me. But in my heart I wish he would be able to say “it’s okay for me to die now”. But he clings on to life and to me and it’s not that he’s afraid of death. I don’t believe that. But he’s afraid to let go of life. Yes, you can argue it’s the same thing, but I don’t think it is. He fights for the joy of living, not because he fears death. It was really hard to leave him yesterday but he got extra pain relief and fell asleep. Afterwards I talked to the nurses about his need for rest versus the need to have visitors and they suggested a sign they often use on the door that says “I’m resting. Please contact staff”. So let it be written – so let it be done.
Today we arrived and he was in a deep sleep. He hadn’t eaten anything or had anything to drink all morning. We arrived early afternoon and while we were there, the nurse just carefully gave him some club soda on a sponge and with it tried to clean his mouth a bit too. He got a little something down but he can barely swallow. I gave him more later on. He came to life as I read a letter from his cousin, who had sent him a mail via my email. He listened and cried… I guess old memories will do that to anyone. I just keep telling him to relax and breath. Don’t worry about anything, just take it easy. I simply can’t think of anything else to say. He reached his arm out, barely, for a hug and I hugged him the best I could reach. He wouldn’t let go, so it was a long hug. He is so so sad and it makes me so so sad too. I pray I one day can go into death with joy in my heart! For my own sake, but certainly also for those loved ones whom I may leave behind.
The anger I have inside needs to come out somehow. I’m not good company these days! I snap at people, finds all the wrongs and want to blame anyone for anything and even worse, I want to think about all the things I might be able to blame others… Not a good Bible for others to read I can tell you that, but I have no idea how to deal with it.
Pray, Pray, Pray… Thankfully my Lord can handle anything I bring Him. Right now it’s anger and despair. I get angry at my dad’s neighbor when he says he thinks about visiting my dad’s ex-girlfriend (come on, really???!? my dad and him are great friends… couldn’t he at least wait until my dad is gone and buried?!) – and angry at my brother when he says, he’s beginning to understand atheists. He is currently a lot more likely to embrace atheism than Jesus right now. Not that my brother is Christian in any way and in fact often ridicules religions. But he is right when he says “what’s the point of a good man having to suffer like this, when there are horrible criminals dying a pleasant death”… I gotta say – I wonder that too. But like I said in my last prayer “God, I do not understand this!!! But I MUST believe you know what you are doing. But God… it’s really really hard right now”.