It was a cold, dark and gloomy day. I was keeping my kids occupied with movies and crafts. I was also running into my Dad’s room to check on him. The cancer had spread and he was dying. He looked so frail in his hospital bed that sat in the middle of the room. He could barely smile as he was so weak, but I could tell by his eyes he was happy to see me. I told him how the day was going, what his grandkids were doing and that it was a beautiful spring day out. I stood by the window and as I looked out I told him the sun was shining brightly. That there were white fluffy clouds rolling across the bright blue sky. That I had planted some red geraniums, (one of his favorites) and they looked beautiful all in full bloom! I didn’t have the heart to tell him how dark and gloomy it really was. What a sad picture, although it matched perfectly to what was going on.
I sat on the side of his bed. He couldn’t really talk at this point or really even move his body. I laid my head gently on his chest like I had a million times before; his heart beating slowly this time. I missed how strong and healthy it used to beat. I had crawled up in his lap to cuddle, leaning my head on his chest countless times as a little girl. (Heck, even as a big girl!) His heartbeat soothed my worries. He was always a calming, safe place that made everything better. I told him how much I loved him. That he was the best Daddy in the world and I was so lucky to have him for as long as I did. I felt him shake as he mustered his arms up to squeeze me as tight as he could. It was the most precious hug he had ever given me. He pressed his lips on the top of my head as best he could for a kiss. My heart ached so much, I could barely breathe. I didn’t want him to go. I won’t lie, I begged God to please, please let him be healed here on this earth and stay with us. I didn’t want to learn how to live in a world without my Dad. And I knew he was trying to fight to stay, as sick as he was, in as much pain and suffering as he was enduring; he was holding on for us. I looked at his sweet, tired face, a face that I would miss terribly and I knew it wasn’t in God’s plan for him to stay.
As convincingly as I could, I told him that it was okay to let go. I didn’t want him suffering anymore. He didn’t need to hold on for us. I told him we’d all be alright. We just bought this house, we had enough money so we are taken care of. (I knew he worried about all of that! He was a taker-carer-over!) Then, squeezing his hand, I told him that, most importantly, we are all together. The only thing left was missing him.
His eyes got glassy. He shook his head and made a noise and I knew he was saying, “I love you.” I replied, “I love you too!” He kissed the top of my head again.
That was thirteen years ago. On April 2nd, about a day later from our talk, my mother woke me yelling, “Jerri Lynn! Jerri Lynn! I think he’s gone. I don’t know, I can’t tell!” I ran downstairs and laid my head on his chest as I had always done; only this time there was no heartbeat beating back. He had let go. He just needed that permission that it was okay. It was an overwhelming feeling. I was grateful that he was no longer in pain and that he was at peace. But I was so broken at this great loss that I think my heart stopped beating for a moment as well.
I gave that brokenness to God, it was too big for just me. He said the grieving process is just that, a process – one with no time frame. So I could take my time. Which is good because not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. The heartbreak gets more manageable because God gives healing and strength that only He can. Time allows it not to be as fresh and raw as when it happened. But it still stays with you every day, because every day he isn’t here feels like a loss. What gets me through is that there are no goodbyes in Christ, I will see him again when my time here is done. I picture God smiling as he lets my Daddy greet me. He’ll come running up in his favorite flannel shirt, maybe a few Twizzlers sticking out of his pocket and a big warm smile! He’ll say, “Hey, Pup! I missed you,” and give me the biggest hug ever! It’ll be…Heaven!
A Beautiful Mess,
Jerri Lynn Not Jerri