Monday, February 23, 2009

The Gift To Go

A little over five years ago my mother passed away after five years of enduring a horrendous illness, innumerable medical procedures, hospital stays, countless doctor visits and so many other events that it would be impossible to document. Throughout it all, she maintained optimism, dignity, her beautiful spirit and unfailing grace.

I, on the other hand, was a mess. I was angry at her illness, at God, and shamefully, at her, at times, for not fighting hard enough, in my distorted view. I wanted her to live. I wanted her to get well, get better. I wanted her to continue to be my mom, even though I knew in my heart that she would never be well and whole again. I continued my campaign for her recovery vehemently. Ultimately, she passed away.... of which I had no control over.

I had no control over it. None.

She died. And I couldn't stop it.

Today, my dad passed passed away. He had been in the hospital for the last two weeks. Triple-bypass was performed a week ago and his recovery was being hampered by mild liver disease and 'sick' kidney function, but we were optimistic for his recovery, albeit, a long road ahead. I have been with him since Friday. Feeding him ice chips. Wiping his forehead. Kissing him. Telling him how much I loved him. Holding his hand. Getting the nurse. Pushing for pain meds to be administered. Adjusting his pillows. Putting balm on his dry lips. Keeping in touch with family and friends...even those estranged for nearly 16 years.

New tests administered yesterday revealed that he had only hours left with us.

It has been grueling, painful, sad and surreal.

But there has been beauty and grace in the process. Along with all of the tears that have fallen and words whispered into his sweet ear, I was able to give him a gift that I couldn't give my mom. Not one that was to be opened with his sore, bruised hands, not one that cost me a penny, not one that was the wrong size, color or style. No, this one was the perfect gift.

I gave him the gift.... to go.

Friday night, weak and struggling with each breath, dad said to me as I bent over and stroked his face..."I'm dying." And he was. But instead of protesting, instead of saying "No, you're not!", instead of making light of it or chalking it up to the pain he was in, I smiled. I looked into his watery blue eyes, ran my fingers through his silky gray hair and said, "Dad, if you need to go, then go. It's okay." I kissed his forehead twice; telling him "I love you. This one is for you, and this one is for Mom when you see her. Tell her I love her and that I miss her."

Four times he told me that he was dying. And each time, I told him that it was okay to go.

Because as much as I was angry at his illnesses, mad at God, afraid to loose another parent, weary of pain and hurt and wanting him to continue to 'fight the fight', I learned from Mom's passing that there was something much greater for me to do. I couldn't control the diseases that were wearing his body down and taking him away from us, but I could, hopefully, give him love, comfort and peace in knowing that we were here to support and love him through the process.

And so .... I told my dad that it was okay to go.

And go, he did. Surrounded by his children, and, I hope and pray,

with a gift in his heart.

11 comments:

kimberly said...

oh, vb....i have tears rolling down my face.....i know so well how this feels and my heart is aching for you and your family.....even with the gift to let go, the ache and sadness fills the hearts of those left behind.....mixed with comfort and love.
you are in my thoughts and prayers sweet friend.....
love to you,
kimberly

Anonymous said...

Praying for all of you.

Just Joni said...

Tears are falling...and I can't help but think what a precious precious gift you gave in those transitional moments....may the same peace and love you administered fill your own heart...you are a dear lady and your dad was so very lucky to have you walk him home. God bless you friend ~

Cheela said...

I am hoping this comment will go through. It looks different. Thanks, Carol. I know you know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. What a wonderful gift you had to say good-bye.

Kerri said...

Carol, my heart goes out to you. I know that this is a difficult process for you to deal with - the end of the family as you knew it for years. But, remember this: YOUR family lives on and they continue to remember and share all of the things (for lack of a better word) that your mom and dad were able share with you, and give you, over the years. I feel that the best way we can pay tribute to the loved ones we have lost (even though they are not lost to us spiritually) is to continue to share what they gave us - it makes the "loss" a "gift" to those of us we are still able to touch. While no one is truly gone from us, their memories keep them with us; it is difficult to deal with the fact that memories are all we have. They have left their corporal bodies - but emotionally they share bonds with us that enable us to maintain and give to others. Each day that goes by will continue to be touched by them, through you.

Kerri

N-Search of Peace said...

My heart, all that know you personally, and all that have come to know you through the blogging world, wrap their hearts around yours to carry you through this time of darkness and into the light of John's life spent here...holding onto what he was to you and your family...
He is still here with you as with the lineage of those that have already crossed over...
Know that Mom stood, arms stretched to receive him and hand-in-hand they found their place in God's heaven.
Love you and my deep sympathies...
N-Peace

kimberly said...

thinking of you so.....and hoping you have had days of comfort and peace.....
love,
kimberly

Susie of Arabia said...

Carol, I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved father. I am hoping you can remember him in happier times and know that he is reunited with your mom now and in a much better place than we all are. I'm thinking of you...

Jane said...

I have been thinking about you today. I hope that you have been able to feel the prayers of those that love you. I have been praying that you will feel peace and Gods love for you and your family. I know without a doubt that your Dad has been reunited with your Mom and they are in a wonderful place now. And one day you will get to be with them again.

I love you!! You know where to find me if you need anything at all. Aly missed you today, and says to tell you hello.

Jane

Chickenbells said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, and I was so surprised to hear of it first hand with my surprise phone call to you. I love that you were able to tell him to go...it is a beautiful gift to give someone, and he was lucky to have you as a daughter.

I send you big hugs and kisses and I have thought of you so much this week during my quiet moments.

Simplicity Wins said...

Oh Carol, I am so sorry about the passing of your ded. Although I am happy that you were able to be there with him and to have such a touching goodbye. As believers, we know he is with our Lord and savior now....
Be well.