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Alphabet Soup

Where do words go when you can’t find them? Are they stuck in some crevice in your brain waving at you to find them? Do they just simply leave your brain and go on holidays? Or does intense emotion cause them to get so jumbled up that they become unaware how to form into proper words let alone sentences and paragraphs?

It’s been a long time since I have been able to find words – and the words I am finding may not even be the right ones, but I feel like I need to start reorganizing letters, forming words and putting together my thoughts. Writing has been one way for me to express what sits so deep and doesn’t always come out of my mouth the way I wanted it to.

What a journey. I didn’t know that walking next to normal would 1) become normal and 2) never be normal again. It’s like my whole world has spun on its axis and nothing is as it ‘should be.’

Since my last blog, a lot has happened.

My dad died.

He died. Just like that, he is gone. And with that the words…

Dad and me

By the grace of God, my sister, Jodi, and I were able to write a tribute to my dad. We wrote it the morning of his memorial – we buried him the night before – we had a wedding the day before that. He died on a Wednesday and we celebrated my daughter’s wedding Saturday, buried him Sunday and remembered him Monday. Then there was Tuesday…

God’s words hit my fingertips running that Monday morning into the afternoon. Our thoughts and memories of our dad came flying from all angles. His voice spoke to us so clearly, “God is good. Crying is ok. I want people to hear the story of Jesus – I want to meet all of you and all of them in heaven someday.” I’ll put that tribute into its own blog following this one that you can read if you are interested in knowing my dad and what gave him his peace and his hope.

Today I am not ignoring the joy of the wedding – I want to capture that solely and in its own blog. One that honours the joy that we enjoyed that day – one that gives my daughter her own day of love and excitement. Today I am writing about my dad.

In my last blog I talked about walking beside someone who was dying. I talked about the honour and privilege of being able to sit with them, help them, and listen to them. When I wrote that, dad was still at home and we thought we would have a lot of time with him there, but that was not to be. Dad was home about a week before he was too weak to stay there and we took him back to the hospital. Perhaps it was also our inexperience at being caregivers/nurses! Dad seemed almost a little ‘too’ relieved to be back in the hospital!

And then that is where we stayed for the last two weeks of his life. We took turns sitting with him. And as we journeyed further we stayed for night. He was rarely left alone – so it is an amazing thing that none of us were with him when he passed away. Perhaps there is truth to the hospital myth that people will wait for their loved ones to leave them alone so that they can pass away without having to cause those they love more pain. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Those weeks in the hospital are surreal now. We really had an amazing experience. Dad was constantly having visitors over the first week or so – he was just that popular! He had that rare opportunity to talk to so many of his friends, family, kids, grandkids and even those great grandkids. And throughout this, he was at this deep amazing peace. I’ve often referred to it as holy ground. His room, the space around him, was holy – it was special. But I’ve also said that I didn’t realize holy ground could be so full of potholes.

There were these amazing moments

Rayzanna and dad with her wedding dress.
  • the men’s group came and sang to dad in the hospital room – dad singing along, a tear rolling down his cheek – the rest of us a crying mess!

  • Bernie shaving dad in the hospital bed

Jodi splashing water in my dad’s mouth thinking that is what he wanted when all he wanted was a cloth on his forehead – dad patiently waiting for her to understand (and probably chuckling inside quite a bit!)

  • Myself turning the wheel for him that he saw above his head while he was in a hallucinating state – and in his patient, patient way telling me that I wasn’t actually turning it – we finally agreed that this ‘wheel’ must be broken. (and then him telling Bernie lately that his girls kept waving their hands above his head – he had no idea what they were doing!)

  • Dad telling us over and over again that we were wonderful – as we helped him sip water or wash his mouth out cause it was so dry.

  • Dad telling us it was ok to cry

  • Jodi and I rubbing his legs when they ached

  • His granddaughter came in and put her wedding dress on for him to see.

  • Mom climbing into the bed to sit with dad – just to sit and be close

  • In his last morning laughing (noted only by his shoulders shaking) at his three girls as they tried to make my dress for the wedding fit

  • Though he hadn’t spoken out loud for a couple days, he managed to tell his grandson, who came to sit with him for about an hour, that he loved him. “I love you.” Judson left him knowing mom was coming back in about an hour. Those were dad’s last words. 45 minutes later he was taking his last breaths with some lovely nurses guiding him. He was fully aware of what was happening and these wonderful woman journeyed with him and guided him through those last quiet breaths. And then there was only one more breath. Then…

… Jesus met him at the bridge and they crossed over it together.

We had many, many great moments with dad. We had great moments for over 40 years with dad and the last month were beyond what can be described. We were told we shouldn’t expect Christmas with dad – we might get about three months. He was diagnosed with brain cancer on July 19 and passed away August 17. We got a month.

Jozanna made a pencil portrait of my dad for the memorial service.

I have learned/discovered so many things about dad, myself, my mom, my sister and those around me and maybe even about God. But I also have so many questions and so much to learn.

Right now I will leave it at that – I will leave my topsy turvy world the way it is – topsy turvy. I will let those other lost words stay lost a little longer. It will come – the words will find their way back.

Here are three words to leave you with. These never got lost. Dad wouldn’t let us lose them.

God is good.

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