There's so much I want to write, but I'm really struggling with where to begin.
Yesterday was my birthday, and Mother's Day of course. I got a ton of well-wishes from friends in real life, email and facebook of course… lots of "hope you have a wonderful day…""a special day" "the BEST day". I really appreciate the thoughts.
But unfortunately, I've had better.
Early yesterday morning, my dad lost his battle to pancreatitis that landed him in the hospital 8 weeks ago.
We knew he'd taken a turn for the worse this last week. I can't keep it all straight, and I could be wrong, but things like "a possible infection in the belly or the blood" , "a blood clot blocking his lungs", or "overall septic shock" were thrown around. He was feverish and having trouble breathing, gasping for air, so they'd had to sedate him again and put him on a ventilator…. there was talk of doing a tracheotomy? It would be easier on him than the tube down his throat again. I'm not sure if they got a chance to do that.
On Saturday night, the doctor told my oldest brother, Ryon, that he'd be surprised if he made it 24 more hours. He was in a catatonic state, staring at the ceiling, unresponsive--- I believe his heart was kept beating with the help of a machine. They wanted someone to make the decision regarding the life support. They projected he would pass within five minutes without the machines, a couple of days with them. They said there was no more they could do.
Ryon and his wife, Jeanette jumped on a flight that night and arrived to the hospital some time after midnight. They saw his pained condition and spent some time with him. They got every last update from the doctors.
On the days leading up to this, Ryon had been praying fervently that he would not be forced to make the decision of whether or not to disconnect life support. Then on Saturday, when the doctors left the room, he laid his hands on my dad's head and gave him a blessing in which he "released his spirit from his body"-- letting him know it was alright to go. He said that he finished the blessing and he and Jeanette could immediately see a change in his countenance. Peacefully and naturally, he had gone. Within a minute or two…. the machines agreed, everything went to zero, and the doctor declared him--- 1:51am.
I got the news in a text when Sophia woke me up at 5:30. Ross watched me read it, nervously, and then held me while I cried. I'm so grateful for his support.
I wish I could have been there-- death is so surreal to me, a little scary, even thought I certainly don't believe it's the end, because it's unknown. I'd never really thought of how spiritual it must be. But it's one of the most important things that happens to us in this life. It makes sense to me that our Heavenly Father would be very present.
I don't always believe that everything happens for a reason. I wish that so many things had been different that may have kept his body from ever having to suffer this. I wish he had 20+ good years left, like I'd always imagined he would to invest more time in his 19-and-counting grandchildren. He was in a new phase of life, and was nurturing those relationships more than I had ever seen him do.
I wish my girls could REALLY know him, and find comfort in that deep, bellowing voice and strong embrace like I did. I wish I could call him and hear him brag to his coworkers in the background about me while we're on the phone. In his description I was 5'10 (true) and probably 120 (not true), a writer (he didn't mention that it was on my own personal blog I'm sure) and a professional photographer for the stars. He was more proud of his children than I've ever seen a parent.
I wish he could marry Marybeth and turn his heart back to the Savior and find the peace and joy that comes with that. I wish he had years of THAT life left to enjoy. When I think of all of the events and moments he won't be there for, my heart feels like lead and I'm so… so...sad.
But I do have faith that there's a plan. And while I wish things were different, I know that I'll see him again after this life. I know that he's been reunited with both of his parents and that he's got work to do. I'm so relieved that he doesn't have to be weighed down by the ailments of his physical body and that his mind can be clear and that maybe, just maybe, he can remember every little thing we whispered in his ears in that hospital bed. Every little thing. I'm counting on that.
I'm so grateful that Melisa and I got to see him a few weeks ago. I feel so lucky that we seemed to have him on one of his most lucid days of the eight weeks. I got to talk to him and listen to him and serve him. I got to laugh at his jokes for the last time, knowing it could be the last time. I got to relish his personality-- smaller as it was.
He was so fragile and helpless, like a child almost. It made my love for him so pure and unconditional. I'm grateful for that.
I'm so grateful that I was able to have more time with him over the past few years. That he lived out here in the desert for a while where we got to do Sunday dinners and have long, colorful, intense conversations. Sometimes Marybeth and Ross would wander off to keep the girls happy while we continued. I think I got my secret love of debate from my dad. He could argue that the sun was blue and he'd win. I hated it when he was arguing with me, but otherwise….. oh, it made me proud.
I feel an enormous sense of loss. A little less oxygen in my lungs, and more weight in my chest. I'm not sure if that will fade. But I'm so grateful for my testimony of Jesus Christ and my faith in his plan of salvation. I'm so relieved at the knowledge that I'll see him again some day--- big and strong, roaring with new wisdom and understanding he'll certainly be picking up on the other side, probably charming the crowds.
Until then, he will be painfully missed by so many.
at my house playing with Sophia...
He and Marybeth at Ian's wedding--- I know it's horrible quality but he looks so dashing.
Meeting Mila for the first time.
This was from…. a long time ago, you can tell by Mel's dark hair and my baloony, red, curduroy pants… I took one for the team here Dad, because you look so handsome.
Last Thanksgiving at my house.
Toward the end. I always debate if it's appropriate to post these. But having not seen him in person, Ross actually thought he looked younger--- being so thin and all. So I thought maybe he wouldn't have minded. Of course he still looks handsome to me.
He fought so long and hard through this while his body went through hell. He's always just wanted to make us happy and proud--- I wonder how long he would have held on if Ryon didn't assure him it was ok to let go.
I think I'm beginning to feel more peace. Even as I've written this.