For every story there is a beginning, middle and an end. But when finally reaching the end one may look back and wonder; how did I get here? Can I ever go back? Is there anything to go back to? Is this the way the story has to end?
I sit staring at the same blank wall. It’s a different wall now but my frame (or should I say pain) of mind is still the same. I still can’t believe he is really gone…
It was a normal Saturday, nothing eventful that I can or can’t remember. I went to sleep to get up early for a three year anniversary celebration of a church plant called Clarity. When I awoke in the morning I was getting ready and I noticed I had a voicemail. Listening to the message I became alarmed. My Dad had stopped breathing in the evening and was now in the ICU on life support. Sheer panic took a hold of me.
I raced to the hospital with Reni as soon as I could. Met and hugged my distraught step mom. Still in a state of Shock we entered the hospital room where my father was. He was hooked up to breathing machines and unconscious. I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing him there. And even now as I think about it, it still cuts so deep. I tried to be strong but my voice broke and a few tears came down as I gripped his hand and told him, “You have so much to live for.”
We exited the room and the doctors and nurses began explaining things to me that I never knew about or wanted to know. He was sick and had pneumonia. He also had sepsis which is why his body was bloated. They said his kidneys may be shutting down and mentioned kidney dialysis. When I asked a nurse about odds and what was really going on she said we should pray.
I didn’t really understand the weight of the situation. My dad had been in the hospital at the beginning of the year with blood loss and stomach bleeding and he pulled through and was strong. He almost just laughed it off. We had even been working on his porch in the previous weeks and everything seemed to be fine. Still Reni and I headed back into the room to pray.
We held each other’s hands and my dad’s, squeezing with hope and human frailty we prayed. We prayed for healing, we prayed for a full recovery, we prayed for his soul. Somewhere during our prayer my dad had an unmistakable jump. Like a sudden jerk, almost violent. I believe that he heard our prayers on some level. I never told my brother or stepmom about that encounter but I believe his soul was touched.
Other family members arrived and pulled us out of the room. I had offers from other pastors to come and pray but I thought there was tomorrow…
We left to go to the Clarity Banquet at night and I remember telling my story to all our friends there, numb, hurting inside, confused at how quickly life can change when you aren’t ready for it. We ate and shared and had a time of worship. I remember the worship sounded so angelic with everyone singing and God’s presence. I cried and wondered what it is like to worship God in Heaven in all His glory.
Morning came but that night was the last night of my dad’s life. He passed away before the sunrise came. There were frantic messages on my phone telling me that if I wanted to see Dad I had better come to the hospital quickly. They only keep the bodies in the room for so long after death. I had already seen my Aunt Robin’s body the day she died almost a decade ago so I knew that there was nothing there anymore. (On a side note my past addiction was heavily fueled by her loss.)
The moments, days, months, and now years that have passed are forever changed without my father in this world with me. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through in this life and it’s difficult in a whole different kind of way than the other things. They say that grieving is the inward emotion and mourning is the outward expression of the grief within. Sometimes I just feel like a stone, like no one knows what’s going on inside or could comprehend it. I know I’m not the only one that suffers but my pain is my pain. It’s not stronger or more important than others’ pain it’s just that this is mine. Sometimes I feel genuinely connected to my father, knowing that he heard our prayers on his death bed and that God saved his soul. I know that he knows more about God and is experiencing Love in ways unimaginable. God gives me comfort and strength. Slowly, I chip away at myself and forge a stronger man. Yet, sometimes I simply, dearly miss that man.
I still have “Dad” in my favorites on my phone.
I’m not sure how to end this because it’s never ending but I hope my story may help you in your grieving process.
“It can be painful and seemingly never-ending but the only way out is through” ~ Carl Jung
“Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better’. They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone. I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here – what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be,” ~ Keanu Reeves
You die twice, once when you stop breathing, and again when somebody mentions your name for the last time. ~ Unknown