Friday, February 17, 2017
We lost him long before we lost him. And we didn't know that he was truly gone for a really long time. We kept waiting for him to come back to us. We waited for the feel-good movie ending where the coma patient opens his eyes, looks around, wondering where he is while his loving family cries and gathers around. And that's just not the way it went for us.
It was a Tuesday morning, and I was at school. I got a call from my sister that my dad was being rushed to the hospital after a fall off of a ladder. She said my mom was upset, but I still didn't understand exactly what was happening.
Do I need to come?
She said yes. And so I went downstairs to tell the office that I needed to leave. When my husband called a few minutes later, he was telling the same story, but he used the word "unconscious". My sister Kari hadn't said that. That's when I felt the urgency. I got into my car, and I rushed to the hospital in Arlington.
I relive that day in pieces.The scariest parts stick out the most. 7 or 8 of us crowded into a tiny room in the ER. Waiting for the doctor to come tell us what on earth was going on.
Bleeding on his brain.
A blood clot.
A waiting room filled with family and friends.
Before his surgery we went back to see him. He looked like himself. Or himself after a fall. A little bleeding. He was a little disheveled. He wasn't awake. But he was going to be fine. A little surgery was going to fix him right up. I just knew it. We were scared, but we held hands, and I prayed over him before he went into surgery. And then we waited.
Pastors came to visit. Friends and family came to sit with us. But before long, they told us that the surgery was done. It had gone well. We were able to go see him, and even though his blood pressure and heart rate seemed a little inconsistent, he seemed fine. We all kind of breathed a sigh of relief, even though we were unsure of what would come next.
My sister Ashlae and I decided to run a quick errand, since our babies were on their way to the hospital with their dads. We hadn't come prepared for an all-day hospital stay with kids. But just a few minutes out of the parking lot, we got a call to come back to the hospital. It looked like my dad might not make it. We turned the car around, and I panicked. I prayed out loud in the car.
Please, God, do not let him die. Do not let him die.
And I started to realize that this might not be so simple after all.
We had no idea what kind of damage was done as a result of my dad's fall. There was so much swelling in his brain. The neurologist said that we wouldn't know anything much until he woke up. We never considered that he might not wake up.
For several days, we waited for his heart rate and blood pressure to stabilize. There was a tangible burden lifted when the doctor finally told us that he thought my dad was "out of the woods". He said the recovery might be slow, but we would just have to wait and see. We expected that within a week or two, he would be fine. Even if he wasn't completely healed and back to himself, we never expected what would come next.
What came next was waiting.
Long days of uncertainty. Days turning into weeks. Weeks turning into months. Hospital visits. Short conversations with nurses about medical procedures and conditions that we didn't understand... until we did. Scary he-is-not-going-to-make-it moments... except he did. Songs sung by a hospital bedside. Scripture read. Prayers prayed. Conversations where we would talk and try hard not to notice that he wasn't talking back.
He woke up in the only ways his injured brain would let him. The occasional eye flutter. The slightest hand squeeze. The doctors said it was all nothing. I will never believe that it was nothing. But I also know that he was never fully aware. And I am thankful that he wasn't. It would have been a hard way to live life, unable but also aware.
We had him for eight months like this before he was gone. Like really gone. We had said the things we needed to say. We were tired. He was tired. With one illness, he was freed.
On the day of my dad's accident, we had so much hope. It was a hard day, but we believed that God would be faithful and that His will would be done.
Here we are, two long years later- and can I just tell you- we still have hope. We will see him again. And we still believe that God is faithful.
My faith has been shaken.
I don't understand why.
Some days prayer doesn't come easy.
I miss him terribly.
And it still doesn't feel fair.
And for now. This is just it. This is how it feels. This is what we have.