January 9 is not a day I look forward to. January 9 is the day my daddy died.
Think about the way you anticipate Christmas, your birthday, or a special day in your life.
In the same way you look forward to those days, I feel the complete opposite about January 9 and the week preceding. I wouldn’t say dread, but pretty close.
I’m sad. Impatient. Grumpy and irritable. Then sad again.
I remember and recount all the days and memories leading up to his passing.
I cry at the drop of a hat and can’t decide if I want to be alone or talk about it.
We knew it was the end. The cancer had spread too many places. Daddy had stopped taking chemo because he hated how it made him feel. Surgeries and procedures were no longer an option, so he saw no point in taking a medicine that made him feel like crap just to prolong the inevitable. Daddy’s oncologist saw him Monday and told him to go home and be as comfortable as possible. But when a hospice nurse and morphine are ordered, how comfortable can you get?
On Thursday I went to see him after my ultrasound for Lincoln. We all knew he was getting weaker, but had no idea how close he was. Mom made a quick run to the store, so it was just daddy and I on the couch. I told him Amy and her family were driving down after school. Lisa and her family would be here soon.
“Tonight we’ll all be here with you daddy. I think it’s ok to go.”
He closed his eyes and nodded.
“I just want to do it right”, he replied.
We exchanged a few more words, then sat on the couch holding each other and crying. It was the last time my father would hug me.
Shortly after Lisa and Amy arrived he said he was tired and went into the bedroom to lie down. We all took turns going in and talking to him.
Our last conversation was horribly beautiful, if that makes sense.
He was starting to fade in and out. Opening his eyes and talking seemed to require all the energy he could muster.
I wrapped my hands around his frail face and tried to memorize his features.
“I love you daddy. I’ll see you in the morning, or I’ll see you in Heaven.”
He became unresponsive later that night.
Friday morning a dear friend called and offered to take Neala for the day. When she came in, she asked to say goodbye to daddy.
Once in the room, she had an odd request. She told me to hold his hand so she could take a picture.
His liver, among other organs, was starting to shut down so his skin was extremely yellow.
I didn’t think it would be a very nice picture and not how I wanted to remember him.
But then she brought the picture to the funeral.
This picture is displayed in our living room and I think it is horribly beautiful, if that makes sense.
My life immediately following daddy’s passing was challenging. Like the original picture, I wasn’t sure I would like my “new normal”.
Thankfully, God has helped me find beauty among grief’s rubble.
In the midst of my pain, I have found the sweet presence of the Lord to be nearer than I ever thought possible. I also find myself drawn towards others in pain.
At some point in your life you will experience loss.
While I cannot protect you from loss, grief or sadness, I can offer a bit of advice:
Find the beauty among grief’s rubble.
Turn your ear towards others in pain and offer to listen.
Draw near to God instead of turning away.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”