Thursday, January 24, 2013
It was a year ago today, at 2:55 or somewhere around there, that my Father's nurse came and told me that he was beginning to transition. He'd been in hospice for only a few days. He'd told me several times that he was just ready to go, but God wouldn't take him. I told him He would take him when the time was right and that his mama and sisters would welcome him with open arms.
I'm sure he knew he was in hospice. I believe he was aware of everything, his body was just shutting down.
I honestly think he waited until my mom left to go. She had been with him all morning and within 30 minutes of her leaving...
I had called my brothers, my Mom and had my sister on the phone. I put it up to his ear, so she could say goodbye. I had already told him it was ok. He didn't have to hurt anymore. The nurse kept taking his vitals. I think it was about 3:05 when she said it wouldn't be long because he'd stopped breathing, but still had a heartbeat.
Nearly 15 minutes later she took them again and she couldn't understand how he'd not been breathing but still had a heartbeat. I held his hand with one had and had my sister on the phone with the other.
My brothers finally made it and we all touched some part of him as his heart finally stopped. I remember looking up and seeing my kids in the doorway crying and I was helpless because I couldn't move.
I remember the nurse saying again that she'd never seen anyone with a heartbeat so long after taking their last breath.
As I stood there, still holding his hand, I remember two minister friends coming in. No one had called them, they'd just come. My mom came in, thinking he was still alive (I think the nurses had told her just to get back up there) and when my brother told her he was gone, it was like she turned into a little girl and said "he's gone?" and burst into tears.
I was in absolute disbelief that my Dad had survived Vietnam, a stroke and prostate cancer, but was taken out by pancreatic cancer within a month of diagnosing. I felt betrayed because they told him he had about 6 months to live and I wanted my 6 months. I was very angry because way back in September, when he kept complaining to his doctor and telling them at the ER that something was wrong, they kept telling him it was stress.
His stomach was hurting constantly, his appetite was diminishing and he was losing weight in record speeds and they said he was stressed. It wasn't until he went to the ER and DEMANDED they do whatever they needed to do to find out what was wrong and he wasn't leaving until they found SOMETHING, that they found it. By then the tumor had taken over and was nearly blocking his stomach and it was too far gone to do anything about it. Oh I get so angry.
I mostly get angry because I always knew no matter what, I could stop by his house house and always get an earful (even if it was a story I'd heard 3 times before) and a bunch of laughs and I did just that almost every single day.
I was excited that our office had just moved in December, right down the street from his house. I planned to go there for lunch every day. Now it's just a grim reminder that he's not there.
Were it not for a special someone near and dear to my heart, I'm not sure where I'd be. God placed him in my life to keep me in line. He prays for me and with me. He let me grieve but when it was going too far, he told me to get it together. He helped me get together the funeral programs, we talk every single day and I love him (and his family) to pieces.
One more thing. In line with my Count Your Blessings for 2013, I thank the Lord that I was able to spend every one of his last 11 days on this earth with him.
I didn't think it possible, but we've survived a year, one day at a time...