Death is one of the hardest things to get through in life. Especially when it is the death of someone we hold dearly. I lost my father two years ago this month. When this week in December comes I find myself reliving those last days with my father. I remember the phone call that cold Tuesday morning from the doctor. I remember the long exhausting drive to Duke Medical Center in North Carolina. I remember how I couldn’t hold back the tears for fear of losing my dad. I remember having hope that he would pull through. I remember the conversations I had with the doctor before I even got there. I remember finally arriving in the middle of the night anxiously waiting to see him. Then I remember seeing him, and instantly, like a shot to my heart, knowing he wasn’t going to make it, but still holding on to this shred of hope. Here I was two weeks before my wedding day, looking down at my dying father. My heart was so incredibly heavy.
The next few days were absolute chaos, decisions to be made on the health care of my dad, Christmas and our wedding in two weeks, all with dad’s health steadily declining. His kidney’s shut down and his circulation got so bad they had to amputate one of his legs below the knee. One of the hardest things I have EVER had to do, was to walk out of that hospital knowing in my heart that he wasn’t going to make it. I knew it was going to be the last time I would ever see my dad. That next Tuesday the Doctor was ready to try to wean him off of life support to see if his heart could function. It did not. From 16 hours away I made the heart wrenching decision to take him off of life support. It took him four short minutes to pass away. Four. Short. Minutes. He was gone just like that.
My mom and dad split up when I was five. I remember being close to him as a small child. My brother and I didn’t see him much coming up after the divorce. Here and there, but usually years would go by without speaking to him. But I never lost love for him and I always hoped for a relationship with him. I decided to call my dad about 2 1/2 years before he passed away. He lived less than a mile from me. We hung out a lot the last 2 1/2 years of his life. We talked about things that needed to be talked about. We laughed and we cried together in those short years. I always felt the sincerity in my dad’s hugs and the way he said he loved me. Every time I called my dad for help or for advice, he was there, My heart always broke for him because I think he felt guilty for not being there when we were kids. I know he did. I could see it in his eyes. But it wasn’t something he could take back, and truthfully, I wasn’t angry about it. I had loved him from the start, even through his absence. And now, finally we had the relationship I had wanted with him my whole life.
So there I am two weeks before the wedding, marrying not only the man of my dreams, but a man that my dad adored. My heart was overjoyed at the thought of my dad, the man I wanted around my whole life, giving me away, happily, to the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Four. Short. Minutes. That’s all it took for that dream to be crushed. I felt so incredibly robbed. Why him? Why now? Why? Why? Why? He and I had only just begun to really know each other. There was so much more to be said and done. I needed more time. My heart breaks every time I think about it. I still cry and it’s been two years. I relive this sequence of events, every year, this time of year.
One of those conversations my dad and I had, I told him how much I needed him growing up and that I loved him. I told him I wasn’t angry. He looked at me with tears streaming down his cheek and said “they could never take our love.” I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. Such infinite wisdom in those words. And they ring out even louder in my head now that he is gone. In his absence, the love remained between us, and in his death the love remains between us. I know he had to leave because God was ready for him; we mourn because we aren’t ready. Our tears are for us.t mostly I am grateful for God’s timing. God did give us 2 1/2 great years together. He could have given us none. That would be even harder to handle I think. Such a beautiful reminder of why mercy is so important too. Had I not been merciful towards him, I may have never known him, and he may have never known forgiveness! His tears that night flowed because of mercy and love. Be merciful and love always!
My father is gone, but the love remains. That is powerful. That is of God. It is meant to be shared. Mercy and love are the greatest gifts we can give to another person.