I’ve been gone for a little while. It’s been a little crazy around here. I hardly know where to begin.
It was one of those weeks where the ground shifts underneath your feet and you grab the nearest solid surface to steady yourself. And you just hold on.
Last week, Michael’s dad passed away.
When Michael was in medical training, he was instructed to tell a deceased patient’s family that their loved one had died. Not “passed away,” not “gone,” not “lost,” but died. You don’t mince words. You don’t leave room for misinterpretation. You shoot straight – with as much compassion as you can muster.
But now that we’re on this end, now that Michael is a member of the club that no one wants to belong to, it just seems easier to say “passed away.” Or “lost.” Or “gone home.” Died just seems too harsh.
His dad started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s when Meghan (who just celebrated her 12th birthday) was a baby. Slowly, tiny piece by tiny piece, he slipped away from us. First he couldn’t remember where he had parked the car. Then he started telling the same stories and asking the same questions multiple times during a ten minute period. Eventually, his personality transformed and his body began to fail. His precious wife cared for him at home for as long as she could, but about three years ago, when that was no longer possible, he moved into a care facility.
During the past month, his body fought one infection after another until he couldn’t fight anymore. He was tired. He needed to be set free.
Surrounded by his wife of 43 years and his two sons, he took a gasping last breath and peacefully left us.
So his passing, his going home, was not unexpected. It was almost – almost – a relief. We knew it would be soon.
But, as several friends have told us, nothing prepares you for the death of your parent.
The grief is deep and painful and bittersweet. We celebrate this marvelous man and all that he accomplished (his obituary filled a half page of the newspaper), we remember his deep belly laugh, his integrity, his humor, his gentleness…but the loss of him is palpable.
I cannot possibly describe the events of the week in one blog post. I wouldn’t do that to you. So I’m hoping to collect my thoughts throughout this week over several posts. I want to tell you about the miraculous, providential story of his dad’s home-going. I want to tell you about keeping our 2 year old nephew for the week. And how, while my husband was in his hometown planning his father’s funeral, a figurative bomb went off inside our house, leaving me 24 hours to clean and prepare so our landlords could put it on the market this weekend…and how God reminded me that He sees me and promptly sent me a friend whose spiritual gift is housecleaning. And how we had other friends drive for hours and hours in order to be with us this weekend for the funeral. And how I have never loved my husband more and have never been so proud of him.
But right now, we need to rest. We need to decompress. We need to process. We need to grieve.