Sunday, December 13, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Life is rather surreal right now. Hard to believe this moment is actually here: my Dad is dying.

Even though his quality of life has been diminishing over the last year or so, it's still hard to grasp that we're actually in this place. Hospice care. Hospital bed in my parents' living room. Trying to figure out how to let him go. Just 10 days ago he was still walking to the bathroom. Eating. Taking his breathing treatments. Taking all his meds. Interacting with life.  Living the best version of his 85-year-old self. And seemingly overnight - things changed. It's like he just got tired of it all. He just didn't have the energy to do this one. more. year.

When Mom and I walked into his hospital room on December 4th - he was angry. Agitated. "Done with this." And so, since then, we've been learning how to say Goodbye. Learning how to give him the best quality of life at home that he can have in the time he has left. Learning how to let him go. Husband of over 61 years. Father of 60 years (44 years to me). Grandfather of 32 years. Great-Grandfather of 20 months.

Because I tend to overthink EVERYTHING, and because I have this ridiculous desire to turn everything into some sort of Norman Rockwell picture (or to feel like a failure when life's not full of those Norman Rockwell moments)...I'm constantly consumed lately with making sure I've said all I needed to say. Questioning how to suck every possible memory out of the time we have left. And in a constant state of near-panic as I realize that he's fading faster than any of us could have believed just a couple weeks ago.

I've learned already that the grieving process doesn't start when someone dies. I'm already grieving. So, I'm sure, are my Mom, my brother, my kids, my nephews. Like I said - the whole thing is so ridiculously surreal. Since my Dad was a few days shy of 41 years old when I was born, I've known my whole life that I was most likely going to be losing him at a younger age than most of my friends lost their parents. For most of my adult life, I've sort of resented that fact. But I know the truth. The truth that I have friends who have already lost parents to cancer or other reasons. The truth that I have been beyond blessed to call my Dad mine for the last 44 years. I have lots and lots of amazing memories. God knew what He was doing when He surprised my parents with me. And He knew what He was doing when He made Clinton Sylvester my Dad. :-)

So I peruse the internet for "How to Handle Losing a Parent", "What I Wish I Would Have Said Before They Died", "Signs of Death". Again - surreal.

Here's what I know: God is in control. His ways and His timing are perfect. He is in control of Dad's last moments here on earth. I'm praying that He'll guide us in our time we have left with him. I'm praying for wisdom on what to say - if to say anything at all. I'm praying for Dad's countenance to be full of peace and joy as he ends his time here with us. That Jesus will wrap him in His loving arms and lead him to eternity. And, selfishly, that we'll get a glimpse of that moment. To have blessed assurance of Dad's heavenly journey.

When you have a quiet man with a quiet faith - it's hard to have complete trust that he's heaven-bound. But I'm trusting God's promises. Trusting that even a quiet man with his quiet faith - even if it's just the faith of a mustard seed - that God's got Dad's place waiting for him. Jesus went and prepared MY DAD a place in His Father's house. My Dad is about to be in that house. Just a few steps ahead of the rest of us spending eternity together there.

So we will live in the moment. Treasure each day Dad's still here. Prepare our hearts for what's to come. Lean on Jesus just a little more.

Praising God for the man he's blessed me with. Dave has been my rock.

Praying for my Mom as she learns how to say goodbye to hers.