At 12:48 am January 14th 2015, my Dad passed peacefully to the Summer-lands. He calls it Heaven. My wee little family and I made it there just four and a half hours before he took that last breath. The days after, up until this very day have been a pretty surreal experience.
12 weeks prior to this date, Dad went into his oncologist and found out that the treatment that he was on at the time was no longer working. They made plans and moved him to an aggressive chemotherapy treatment and schedule. What we didn't know, is that in those weeks to follow, the treatment wasn't taking. We noticed his loss of appetite, weight loss, and over all health declining. We thought it was all signs of the adverse effects of the chemo. Now, we know that it wasn't that at all. We believe the new treatment made the cancer more aggressive, and all those signs, were signs that he was slowly slipping away.
So, we were in just as much shock as he was when the doctor came in to the hospital room he was in, admitted for what we thought was pneumonia, and told us it was time told us it was time to take Dad home and make him as comfortable as possible. That the cancer had spread to the lining of his lungs and there was just nothing more to be done. He had seven days to two months to live.
Rita called and told me that her and Mom were so sure he would make the week. And just like that, with the help of Rita's frequent flyer miles, we got there in just enough time for him to recognize us, cry some tears, and for my little girl to tell him goodnight one more time before she went to bed. Then we sat those last hours, in sadness and tears and heartbreak and....
I am a person of a different strain of faith, but that does not mean that I don't believe in things that most do. My dad was having difficulty taking deep breaths and his breathing was very labored. All of the sudden, an hour before my Dad slipped from us, I could tell the Angels, his escorts had arrived for him. His breathing switched from labored and loud, to calm, deep and quiet. As though those escorts were just waiting for his physical body to be done. As though to give us, the living, one last beautiful memory to remember him by. I kid you not, I saw one last smile before that last deep breath.
Am I so lucky to have been there in his last moments? Should I be so Grateful? There are some that say there is no dignity in death. I disagree. It is the most honorable thing to do for someone who loved you so, who sacrificed for you and cared for you. It maybe in the end that it comforts you more than it does the dead. I wouldn't change it for anything. I'm so Grateful he hung on, that he loved me and mine so much so that he fought for me to have one last moment with him.To his very last breath he showed me how much he loved us.
I'm pretty sure now, that my Dad spent most of his adult life looking for ways to make sure we all knew how much he loved us. And as a result, I find myself thinking, and doing more to show my loved ones how much I love them. I made the phone call today to two of the most important people I have in my Life today, Dad and Mom's best friends. Only took a month and a half to compose myself enough to call and hear their voices, it was a good chat. I told them that Dad Loves me, that he never ever not took the time to tell me. That is one thing in my Life I will always know. Daddy loved me.