Monday, May 10, 2010

My Dad

(my dad at my wedding May '03)

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.

62 comments:

Da Costa said...

Hey Lillie. I'm so very sorry about your dad. You and Lacy (and the rest of your family) have been in my heart and prayers. Your testimony was beautiful to read and I want to add mine to it. I know without a doubt you'll see him again and what a beautiful thing it is to know that we'll be reunited with family once they've gone. Lots of love your way.
Irene

A. Kuhni said...

You do not know me, but I have been following your blog for awhile because I love your pictures and your posts. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how very sorry I am that your father has passed. When I read the post, my heart was heavy because I know you are feeling an immense amount of sorrow. It truly is a blessing knowing our Heavenly Father's plan, as hard as it is at this time. You and your family will be in my prayers!

Sincerely,
Your Blogstalker (or can I say Blogging Friend You Did Not Know About? It sounds so much better!)

aapuzzanchera said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine what you are going through and all of the emotions that you are feeling. i too struggle with death and feel that it is surreal. I have not had to deal with a major loss in my life so the idea of death escapes me. *hugs* You are in my thoughts!

Tillie said...

I'm so sorry Lillie...My heart breaks for you and I'm sending lots of prayers your way! *hugs*

Emily said...

I also have followed your sweet blog for a while; I'm so sorry about your father. Knowing that families are forever helps, but it's still heartbreaking. My prayers are with you.

AJ said...

Oh Lillie.
So sorry.
Sending prayers to you all.

Brandon or Michelle said...

I can tell that this message from you is going to send peace and testimony to places you've never dreamed. It was so beautiful. So clear. So Lillie. How wonderful that you will be a strength to so many, even in this devastating time.

May you feel strength and support from all who know and love you too. :) peace out, lady.

Julie said...

Oh Lillie, I am so sorry. What a sweet relationship you had. I like to think that now you have one more angel watching over your family.

Hope your heavy heart feels peace and love from all those around you, and from afar. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Julie

Ashley said...

So sorry Lillie.

S.A.S. said...

Lil, what to say. My heart is heavy for you. I'm so immensely sorry. I think Julia started crying just as I was reading then news, and she cried how I felt. Wish I could be there to hug you really long and tight. He IS a handsome, vivacious man (and right about your weight) - of course he is, look at his children. How wonderful that he was in your life the way he was, and got to know your beautiful girls and wonderful husband.
Love & prayers xo

The rlmmmmcaress family said...

My condolences. I know a little about losing your dad around significant dates: I went to deliver Maya on the way home from my dad's funeral. It was the most intense bittersweet mix of emotions. McK was 7 and Mad was 5. I still miss him everyday, but I am filled with gratitude that I had the privilege of having him for my father. My testimony of the Savior and the resurrection remain my strength. But that doesn't stop the missing. You have been in my prayers and will continue to be.

Missy said...

Oh Lil, I'm so so sorry. So sorry. You look so much like your dad to me too. Know that I am praying for you and your family too.

I only know one thing about mourning from my own experience. And that is to allow yourself to feel all the emotions. Let it all happen naturally rather than tucking it away. It's healing.

xo

Elizabeth said...

i've never commented before, but wanted to express my condolences to you. my heart is heavy for you during this difficult time. hang in there and cling to your family.

Sally P-G said...

Lillie, Lacy, Ian and to your other siblings whom I do not personally know,
My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you today and in the coming days as you all pull together and get through this tough time. Luckily for you guys you have so much family to look to for love and support and while I did not know your dad, I am sure like any dad, he would love to see you all laughing and telling stories of him and sharing your love for him. Lots of love!
Sally P-G

JCW said...

I'm so sorry you had to experience this loss. I just cried reading it, I really thought he would pull through it. I hope you and your family can feel extra comforted by the Spirit in knowing that he's not suffering anymore, and nothing...not the adversary or any other harmful thing in this world can weigh him down now. Thinking of you!

Gail said...

Lillie, I am sorry to hear about your Dad. I remember him from when your family first moved into 3rd Ward. He helped to raise a beautiful and wonderful family of people who have always been amazing examples to me and great influences in my life. Your post is beautiful. You have an amazing way of expressing your life and it helps me to have a better understanding of the joys and the sorrows. I hope and pray that your family will find peace and comfort at this difficult time.

Ambyr said...

Oh Lillie. I'm so sorry.

Crazy Lifferths said...

Lillie,
I am saddened for you. I am so sorry to read about your dad. Your family (siblings included) are in our prayers. I think it is great that you made that effort to go see him a couple weeks ago. You are such a fabulous daughter. Sending Love, Karalee (Olmstead) Lifferth

Charla Liedahl said...

You don't know me but I have been reading your blog for a few months now and have enjoyed "watching" you live life. I'm so sorry for your loss. Know that your family is in my prayers.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brooke said...

Love you...I'm so sorry for all of it.

Rachelle said...

I love you, honey!

staceykt22 said...

I'm so sorry Lilly. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Jenie said...

Oh Lillie....I've been thinking of you so much! It must have been such a difficult day for you and I wish I could say something comforting to you. I hope you know I'm here for you if you need anything. I'm so glad that you were able to go visit him a couple of weeks ago and that you got to talk to him and hold his hand...that was good, quality time and you left with him knowing you loved him and you knowing he felt the same way. What a blessing!

I'm sorry you're going through this so early in your life and I wish you had more time with him too. I hope you'll feel all of the prayers that are being sent your way and that you know how many people around you love and care about you and your family. I love what one of the comments said about having an angel with you....that is how I feel about my mom and I think that's why I loved having a baby so much is knowing they had just been sent down here and been given one last kiss by my mom. I'm so glad we have the gospel and I know that's what gets us through. Please know our family is praying for you and we'll be here for you if you need us! Love you!

Courtney said...

Lillie-I am so very sorry for your loss, you & your family are in our prayers. You have written such heartwarming tributes to him, what a wonderful way to share him and the type of person he was and the type of person he taught you to be.

Kristy said...

Lillie--I'm so very sorry. You are truly beautiful. I love your family so much and hope that you will have peace. I know you all will see and be with him again and it will be miraculous. We are praying for you and your family.

Best,
Kristy

alliehoopes said...

that was beautiful. you and your positive attitude are a sunny inspiration. i hope all the spiritualness and the peace and calm of this always stay with you. love, allie

Wendy said...

Lillie, My thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm very sorry and I feel your loss. Please let me know if I can do anything for you at all..

I love you!
wendy blue lily

Amanda Jane said...

Hi Lillie. I am just another adoring blog follower of yours and my heart broke when I read about your daddy. I am so sorry for your loss and the pain that you are going through right now. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and praise God for the wonderful memories he left you with...

Amanda from FL

Simply Amy said...

Lillie,

I'm not sure what to say or how to really comfort you but, I am sincerely praying the Lord will comfort you and hold you close in His arms as you mourn the loss of your dad.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles..."
II Corinthians 1:3-4

Baylee and Blair's page said...

I'm SO sorry to hear about your Dad! Just know your family will be in my thoughts and prayers!

Big Hugs- Tiffany

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for a while now and just wanted to extend my condolences. I'm so sorry about your dad; I can't even imagine. But your post was beautiful, and it's clear that your dad had such a great influence on you. I hope you find peace in this difficult time.

britrussl said...

Lillie -
There are no words. But hopefully knowing that the hearts of those you haven't met are bursting with sympathy, empathy and love will buouy you during this swallowing time of loss.
- Brittney from St. Louis, Missouri, by way of King Henry at BYU a long, long time ago.

Adriana said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Francis said...

Im so very sorry to hear about you father. My deepest thoughts and preyers are with you and your loved ones.

Sarie said...

:( Thanks for the testimony. And the beautiful post this morning. It is helpful for me to read this. Helps me in my own life in many ways, be more grateful, more observant. Lillie. I am thinking of you.

Rachelle@atticgals.blogspot.com said...

I am so sorry Lillie! That was beautiful. What would we do without the sweet assurances that the gospel gives us and the comforter. Our prayers are with you and your family!

Lacy said...

Sis- thanks for your hard work in documenting as much of everything as you can. Dad would be so happy to see and read so much of his handsome self on your blog. I love you and I know he was always truly beaming with pride when he talked about you. You were so incredible to him- your beauty, your witt, your financial shrewdness, your tenderness, your artistic talent, your sometimes sharp tongue. You could do no wrong in his eyes. I love you and I wish I could be with you right now.

D-dawg said...

Lillie, I am so very sorry. I hope you will continue to feel at peace as time goes on- it seems you have a great perspective on all of this but it is still so hard when someone passes before what we think is "their time". I'm so sorry.

koko bean..... said...

Lillie I am so sorry about your dad. You wrote an amazing piece on him. If you need anything let us know.

Janelle said...

hey lillie, i'm truly sorry about the loss of your dad. you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. :)

HMB said...

Oh Lacy and Lillie,
Both you and your families are in my prayers, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your journey through has been so beautifully displayed as a daughter with so much love and admiration for her father. I pray you all have a sense of peace in this time. God Bless.

Best,
Heather B.

Rebecca Smylie said...

Oh Lillie. So many thoughts and prayers coming your way. Your dad's greatest legacy is no doubt his wonderful children. He misses you as much as you miss him. I hope that the overriding feeling for the next couple of weeks is one of peace--God really does visit his children in their afflictions. Love you-

Keith and Courtney said...

Oh Lillie, I'm so sorry. What nice memories about your father. It is obvious that you love him very much, and that he loves you. You have lots of people thinking of you and your family right now & praying for you, and I'm one of them. I think one of the best things about prayer is that even though it doesn't change what's happened, it sure eases the pain & brings soooooo much peace. I hope you can feel that peace during this time.
I did have to giggle a little when you mentioned that you got your ability to debate from your dad. I still remember how you were able to stand up for yourself when a certain roommate would bring on the fight. You always held your ground. That's a good thing to learn.

TnD said...

Oh Lillie, I am so sorry to hear about your father. I wish your courage in coping with your dad's death. I can't imagine how difficult this must be.

Kodi said...

What a sweet tribute to your Dad. I hope you are hanging in there. Wish I wasn't so far away. . . You are in my prayers! Hugs.

PINK POPPY said...

My heart goes out to you and your family. I am so very sorry for the loss of your father.

Christin said...

Lillie,
I'm crying as I'm reading this. I can't imagine losing a parent. Our prayers are with you and your family. Love you.

Christin

VERN said...

Lillie
I am so sorry for your loss. What you've written was beautiful, pure and from the heart. I didn't know him but have a good feeling he would be that much more proud of you. You're in our thoughts and prayers.

Joan York said...

Lillie, I appreciate what you said and felt about your Dad. I'm so sorry for your lost. It's been many years since I have seen him. I remember him when your family lived on Blandford Court. We did so many things with your family. We love you guys and our thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time. All our love, Joan and Lou York

Rachelle said...

i'm so sorry!

Megan said...

Lillie,
So sorry for your loss. Your words are beautiful. I know what that weight feels like. My prayers are with you and your family.

lionhair said...

24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and keep you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

Numbers 6:24-26

stacy said...

oh lillie i'm so sorry!

Carrie said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. I am sure times are rough now - but your Dad is looking down upon you and your amazing family smiling and loving what he sees. I know this is no consolation for not having him here with you - but he is no longer in pain and I am sure he has just as many friends and family - if not more surrounding him now. My prayers are with you and your family.

Ashley said...

Lillie, I'm so very sorry about your dad. I can't imagine losing a parent. My husband lost his mom when he was 18 and it still is so hard on him. But we know she is so happy and pain free now, just as your dad is. You write so beautifully and i was touched by your words. Take care and you will be in our prayers. Ashley (the one who works at CPK:)

Anonymous said...

Oh Lillie !! I have been thinking of you and your family since I heard the news of your Dad passing... I just cant believe it !! He was a great man and I always thought of him as my Favorite uncle !! I feel so much pain I cant even imagine how you feel ~!!!! I knew of your dads condition a few weeks ago ... by finding my mom balling at the desk in my dads office starring at the computer reading your blogs ! I love you all soo much and remember growing up together... I know life takes us in all different directions but the love never fades and I just wish we were closer so I could really be there for you like a cousin should be !! You are in my thoughts all the time (even before this horrible tragedy) !! I love you cuz !! xox Heather

The Hepworths said...

lillie, that was really beautiful. i'm so sorry to hear about your dad. you're in our prayers...love you.

Erin Marriott said...

Oh Lillie. I am so so sorry about your dad. I feel like I don't even have the words but I am so sorry you and your family are going through such a loss. Your testimony was beautiful, and what a comfort we have in having the gospel in our lives and knowing that we will see our loved ones again. You are in my thoughts and prayers, love you.

inge said...

i am so sorry for your loss in my thoughts and prayers

Julie and Kyle said...

im so sorry, lillie.

Megan and Keli'i said...

Hi Lillie, I found your blog through Erika Allred's blog and came across this post. I just couldn't help but post something. I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. Your post was a lovely tribute, and I can only imagine how proud he is of you.

I love your photography and your writing.