Walking into his hospital room that afternoon, I had no idea it would be his last day here on this earth. That morning I had taken my time getting ready and run errands before returning to the 3rd floor of the hospital where we’d spent the last week. The nurses kept telling us to take care of ourselves and rest at home, but I was concerned he’d wake up without anyone there so I was happy to know that he’d had consistent company all day.
At this point being up at the hospice center each day was becoming habit; it felt normal. And of course we knew why we were there. We knew what was coming. But none of us expected it as quickly as it came. After I had been there an hour or so, the doctor came to explain that it would be soon. “I doubt anything will happen tonight,” he said “but I think it will be tomorrow or the next day.” I asked him a few questions, thanked him, and updated the rest of the family by phone.
As I sat by his bedside, he slept. Between the cancer spread all throughout his body and the many medications, he slept more often than not. He seemed to wake every four hours or so, usually in need of more meds. It was during these short times that we were able to communicate. He had been disoriented and hazy all week and his speech was failing. We weren’t sure he even recognized us most of the time and he didn’t often reply, but we were taking every opportunity we could to speak to him. And today, whenever he awoke, his eyes were wide open and he put a lot of effort into his words. As if he knew that this was his last day.
He opened his eyes and saw me, sitting by his bed with my red and puffy eyes and he gave me that father look. That look so full of quiet emotion that I can only imagine he gave me the very first time he held me on the day I was born. The same look he gave me when he saw me in my wedding dress, all ready to marry my best friend just over a month earlier. And all at once I remembered the past two months. The tears, the joy, the stress, the excitement. And the fact that he was there for every moment. There to see me say “yes” and go from a girlfriend to a fiance. There to see me plan a wedding in five weeks. There to walk me down the aisle. There to dance with me and cry.
All throughout his battle with cancer, people had told us that God would do a miracle and heal him. And I truly believe that God could have done so, but I never anticipated it to be His will. All along I felt as though the people who said that simply didn’t understand God’s ability and all I wanted to say in return was, “Do you really think God is so limited that healing is the only miracle He can work from this?” Because the truth is that God did many miracles through this, none of which were to keep my father from death. And one of the sweetest of those miracles was the times He gave us together leading up to the day we said goodbye. Moments that will long be remembered and cherished.
So let’s start with the week we were told he had months to live…