Honestly everything has been such a blur the last few days. I can imagine that the depth of this loss won’t settle until later. It’s hard to imagine that my dad was leaving a message on my cell phone one day and barely breathing the next. Even near the end he maintained his focus of faith, hope, and love. He shared thoughts and words of encouragement with all of the grandkids as best as he could. I know it was driving him nuts that he couldn’t talk away.
Friday afternoon I stayed with him for a few hours. When he woke up in the afternoon I asked if he wanted me to read him some things out of the Bible and he said, “That would be nice.” I read some of his favorite Scriptures, some Psalms, and a portion of 1 Cor 15 about God’s victory over death. I could understand why David described God’s Word as a lamp unto his feet… these words were a light illuminating my Dad’s path as he walked through the valley of the shadow of death. It was as if he was hearing the words of his heavenly father calling him home. That afternoon was the last time where my Dad could speak anything close to full sentences.
A short time later his responsiveness diminished and he seemed to be fading away. It was time to move him out of Critical Care to the fifth floor. During the transfer on the elevator, he woke up again and responded to our voices. He drifted in and out until he got to his new room. The hospital made Mom and Beth leave because it was a male room, so I stayed. Before they left I called Dad’s name to get his attention and he opened his eyes. I told him Mom and Beth had to leave and then said, “We love you.” He perked up slightly and said, “Love you too.” Those were his last words.
I tried staying up as long as possible. His breathing was really bad – sometimes there were 40 seconds between breaths. I didn’t want to sleep because I wanted to make sure he was comfortable at all times. Right around 2am his breathing changed. It went from voluntarily to a slow and steady. I believe this is the time when his spirit passed – when he departed this world. There was a peace and I drifted off to sleep.
Drifting in and out of sleep, I’d wake to see him still comfortable and breathing steadily. At 5:30am I decided to get up. I knew his breathing and pulse were being driven by his pacemaker only so I asked the nurse about it. As we were talking Dad’s heart and breathing stopped. It was very peaceful and calm. It was close to 6am. Mom and Beth quickly came from the apartment and we said our last goodbyes.