Wednesday, September 21, 2011

6 months ago...

6 months ago today, my father passed away and I still remember it like it was yesterday...

I had just come home from working a 12 hour shift and told Pete that I didn't think that I would be able to sleep. He told me to do my best since I was 7 months pregnant and he would take the girls to school.

I think I slept for 1 1/2 hours and then woke up to check my phone. I called Pete and he said "Have you talked to your mom?"

My heart dropped.

"No, why?" and he said "Your dad is talking to HIS mom..."
(My dad's mom died 22 years ago)

I called my mom and told her I was coming over and asked if she needed anything. She asked for some lunch, paper towels, and toilet paper. I immediately got up, got dressed and ran those errands. By the time I got to the house, my dad's caretaker (Chelsea) was coming out of the house in tears and told me to give my mom a big hug...
I ran inside to hear peaceful music and see my mom draped over my dad...bawling...

I ran over and hugged my mom as she said in my ear "This is it..."

I went over to my dad to see him using all muscles to breathe and not responding to anything. I loudly told him that I loved him and grabbed his hand. It may just be wishful thinking but I swear that he squeezed my hand. I will never forget that feeling...

I told my mom that I would call our family and let them know.

Within 1 hour, Beth was on her way from Nashville, Keith and Deb were there, Pete was there, Frank, Jan and Chris were there, Chelsea was on her way to the airport, Marie was there, Mark was there, Don and Mary were on their way, Tom and Linda were coming... It was an overwhelming, blessed support system.

The hospice nurse arrived and inserted a morphine pump. We continued to push the button to give him extra morphine as often as we remembered. We sat around and held his hands and just cried off and on for hours. We continue to pray that Beth would make it in time.

We took turns talking to Beth during her drive. I can't imagine getting a call and being told that your dad has hours left and then be expected to drive safely...

We went to pick up Claire and Grace and debated about bringing them by the house. I knew if we didn't, I would regret it. We tried to explain what we could to Claire and told her we just needed to swing by Grandma and Grandpa's house and give Grandpa a kiss.

We walked in and Claire was scared by gave him a kiss and told him that she loved him. His eyebrows raised/twitched. Grace gave him a kiss and then we took the girls home. Our friend, Mallory was ready to watch them for as long as needed - packed an overnight bag and everything.

Hours passed and we were overjoyed when 6 o'clock came and Beth pulled in the driveway. Dad's feet had started to look mottled and become cold. His breathing went from bad to worse. We could hear the secretions filling his lungs. It was the most horrific sound and I will (unfortunately) never forget it.

Then our entire family sat around and prayed. We laughed (a little). And told stories.

We ate some dinner and took turns having some peaceful time with dad.

Around 7 pm, the pausing started...
My dad would take a breath and then pause for a few seconds and then take a breath.

My dad had already planned some of his funeral and the video that would be viewed during his wake was already made. It was a wonderful slideshow of pictures and songs that will always be near to my heart.

The room was full and dad laid in the middle of the room in his hospital bed. 16 family members were in the room and watched the video. 16 family members were crying.

My dad's sister, Pat, was driving home from Texas and likely not going to make it in time.  She called and we put her on speaker phone (since that was the only chance my dad had to hear it because he was so hard of hearing).  She said many wonderful things and finally said good bye.

We all gathered back around my dad and within 15 minutes of the video ending and 5 minutes of talking with Pat, the pausing got longer.

Breath....pause for 30 seconds....breath.....pause....My mom was holding his hand and said "His pulse is slowing..." more breathes...

There is no preparation for that moment. Even three years...nothing can prepare you for holding your dad's hand as he dies.

My dad talked about the day he died and how he wished he would be surrounded by loved ones...he certainly was.

The rest of the evening consisted of a priest coming and prayers being said. The funeral home coming and preparing his body.

Then it was time to say goodbye to him for the last time at Rowin Road.

Then we watched them wheel him out of the house and I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I watched him be wheeled down the ramp, down the driveway, into the van and down the streets. I followed those tail lights until I couldn't seem them anymore...

March 21, 2011 was easily the worst day of my life...

I can't say that it has really gotten easier, life has just gotten busier.  Prayer, church, family, friends, songs, memories and laughter are what help me through this...

"I'll always miss you, I'll always feel the loss.
I have to remind myself that you're better off.
I gotta believe even through these tears of mine,
Wherever you are there's a sun that always shines..."


Kasi said...

Just happened to come across your blog...Wanted you to know I'm praying for you! :)

jarush07 said...

wow laura... just read ur blog and tears welled my eyes, i cannot begin to understand your pain and grief... you and yours are in my prayers :) April