Linger

We tried to get comfortable in the cold, dark room. But a hard, white hospital floor isn’t made for sleeping even with extra blankets and pillows. Neither is the small chair in the corner of the room. The racket of the machines wouldn’t have let us rest anyway.

Not that we were very concerned about resting. Our main concern was that the transition home went well for Daddy. After the doctors told him there was nothing more they could do, he decided to go home. We were waiting with him at the hospital to help with the move. To do whatever we could. To be with him.

We don’t know why Dad took off the BIPAP mask.

He had tried to communicate with us several times earlier and was aggravated that we couldn’t understand him. Everything he said was distorted by the air being forced into his lungs by the mask. He was already struggling and even more so when he had to repeat himself. We were heartbroken to the point of tears watching him struggle, still failing to understand his words.

Maybe he was tired of the mask and the straps pressing into his face. Maybe he took it off because he wanted to tell us something and he needed us to understand him. Or maybe he knew he couldn’t handle the trip home.

We will never know.

The alarm shrilled as soon as the mask came off. We rushed to him, panicked. Desperately and clumsily trying to put the mask back on. Calling for the nurses. Yelling, “Daddy, Daddy!”

Daddy looked beyond us, holding the tube of the BIPAP machine tight in his hand. We couldn’t get the mask back up to his face. When we realized he was taking his last breaths, we rubbed his arms and face, held his hands, reassured him we were there, told him we loved him. My older sister sang a hymn.

We burst into tears when we realized he was gone. A nurse came in and verified he had no pulse. She told us to take as much time as we needed.

We kept looking at him. Crying. Wondering.

We called Mom first. Then our youngest sister. Then our families.

I walked into the hall then back into his room. Unsettled. Restless.

Some other family members came to comfort us. We cried together. Lingered there beside his bed.

Remembered.   image

Prayed.

What now?

It felt strange to leave him. We stalled. Kissed him on the cheek. Held his hands again. Told him we loved him.

We left reluctantly. Silently. Exhausted.

Missing Daddy already.

Ready

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.                     Psalm 29:10-11 (NIV)

I hoped my vacation would make me ready for the new season in my life. This season of hospitals, doctors, Hospice, and medical jargon. When conversations with my sisters are, “any update?” or “who’s staying tonight”? A season of hard decisions, passionate prayers, and letting go. When we have to remember to fill the oxygen tanks and learn what to do if the power goes out. A time of taking care of those who have always taken care of us. A season of sadness and hoping and exhaustion.

I began writing this three weeks ago. Ready to do what was needed to make it all work and be there for everyone I needed to be there for. I had planned to finish the post while sitting with Daddy in the hospital. Instead of writing, I prayed, held Dad’s hand, cried with my sisters, prayed, and prayed some more. Twelve hours after he made the decision to go home, he went home.

Can you be ready for that?  Can you be ready for a death or tragedy, a terminal diagnosis, or betrayal?  I can’t – not on my own.  I can seek God even more, cry when I need to, be real with those closest to me, and let them know when I need some prayer and encouragement.  I will continue to become all that God has called me to be and let Him use my experiences and pain to help others.

God gives me strength and peace.

God made me ready.

He is making me ready.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.

Ephesians 6:13-18 (MSG)