MY FATHER'S JOURNEY: A RELATIONSHIP GIFT
I'm back in Florida with my dad. He's been amazingly strong through this, which has been inspiring to witness. He hasn't eaten or had any liquids in twelve days, yet he doesn't complain. He has always been an incredibly strong individual--a trait that is helping him enormously in his final journey in this life. He responds to yes or no questions by squeezing our hands and he still smiles when we say something funny.
He has always had a great sense of humor; I'm touched that he has kept this even on his death bed. It is one of the wonderful gifts he has given to all of us. When I told this to him and added that I can be particularly funny, he smiled. I then told him the story of my mother-in-law who got run over by a rhino while on a safari in Africa (true story!)...well I thought he was going to spit up he thought it was so funny.
(Note to mother-in-law...I knew you would be okay with giving him a few laughs. Thank you for the material and I'm glad you are okay:-).
Anyway, this has been such an interesting process. Anyone who has gone through this, I'm sure knows what I mean. I feel blessed to have this opportunity and sad to see him go. I went back home Monday and realized that I wanted to be by my father's side during his journey. I returned Wednesday. I've decided to be here until he passes. The doctor says it's likely to be within a couple days. Although I'm torn between being home for my own family and being here for my parents, I can't help but think I would regret not being with him for his final hours.
Many people think they would never want to be at a loved one's death bed, yet it's strangely healing and peaceful. I'm realizing that relationally it's one of the greatest gift we can give to our loved ones. It's not about how difficult it may be for us to sit there, but rather how comforting it is for them to have someone with them. So often we try to run from death and end up leaving those dying alone. I'm here to tell you it is not nearly as awful as you think. In fact, it is remarkably healing and connecting.
If anyone ever has the opportunity to be with a loved one while they are dying, let your heart lead you not your fear. It is a very intimate, peaceful gift for both you and your loved one.
Challenge: When faced with the illness or death of a loved one, rather than distancing yourself dare to step in rather than step out.