The week before my dad died, I got a call from my aunt to let me know that he wasn’t doing well. She felt like his breathing stopped while she was sitting with him in his room. I wasn’t sure what to do. We had been through so many false alarms before but my aunt is a nurse, and I trust her judgment. I continued with a rehearsal that I had scheduled and then I had to cancel a meeting that I had. After my rehearsal, I drove over to Williamsburg.
I got to the place where my dad was at about 9:30PM. He was resting, so I just sat there. When he opened his eyes, he didn’t seem as surprised as I thought he would that I was sitting next to his bed. We engaged in some small talk and I told him that I had come to check on him because I was concerned. He was in and out of sleep for most of the 3 hours that I was there.
My journal entry from that night reads:
“It’s 10:05PM and I’m sitting at my dad’s bedside. My aunt called me earlier to say she didn’t think he had long. It’s hard to say where he is in this process. He’s certainly not doing well and I really don’t know how long he has.
With Mom, we always held out hope for a miracle. With Dad, it almost feels like the miracle would be God mercifully taking him.
Hard to say goodbye when I feel like there’s so much else I need to say. He has enough of his wits to have asked how Carrie and I were doing.
I’m supposed to sing at a funeral on Thursday but just don’t know if that will happen. Have a backup plan.
I just wish Dad didn’t have to go like this. Wish I had more time with him. I selfishly want to talk to him more, but don’t want to keep him from resting.”
It was a long night, but time seems suspended when one is in the grips of situations like this. I was so unsure what to do. I didn’t know whether or not I should try to sleep in the chair or if I should get back in my car and drive the nearly 60 miles home. In the end, I drove home, but I was glad that I had come.
I’ve mentioned before that my litmus test for going was whether or not I would regret it if something happened to him. Those three hours weren’t filled with lots of talk but the gift of presence speaks volumes more than words.
I had no idea that I would lose Dad in a little more than a week, but based upon my journal entry, I was beginning to seek God’s grace in letting Dad cease his suffering. He had been through enough and it didn’t make sense for him to continue as a shell of who he had once been. The biggest question was whether or not I was ready to let him go.