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November 02, 2006

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.

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My mom passed away just over a week ago on 11/2. Like you, I was with her at the end. It was a very positive experience I would also recommend. Two days before she passed away, I asked everyone including her home healthcare attendant to leave the room so I could have a private moment with Mom. I had written a tribute to Mom which I shared at her memorial service but I wanted her to hear it first. I know she was in a coma and probably didn't hear a word I said but it made me feel more peaceful with the outcome.

Dear Lisa,
I first came upon your blog when doing some search on the internet. It's been such a blessing to be in touch with your writing (for a few months now!). I hope you wouldn't mind me putting up a link to 'Straight Talk' on my weblog so I can share this blessing to other people. Thanks!

Hi Lisa,

You are an amazing little sister and I am so proud to be your older sister. It was such a comfort to have you and all the brothers and sisters together; it helped to lift the heaviness that was felt in the beginning.

I learned what courage was by watching you with dad. I also saw and learned the language of love that so few us are willing to demonstrate, and the patience that goes with it.

I learned that through this all; family is very important and should be valued, respected, and given our quilty time and attention. We are so willing to sacrifice for others and yet when it comes to our own family we are not willing to sacrifice our time to be with them.

Thank you for being here with us when we needed you. I will charish forever these pass two weekends because you and your family were with us. Love you always your big sister.

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