East of Eden
Lent- Day 5: My tears have been my food.
"My dad is dying."
Those words flashed through my mind and then hung, like weights, in my thoughts, in my heart, all day today.
My brother Joe called this morning and told me about his visit to see him yesterday. He's back in the nursing home, having been discharged from a nearby hospital where he had to have a bedsore surgically excised. It had become dangerously infected, and after antibiotics failed to clear it up, surgery was necessary.
Dad came through the surgery fine, and being infection-free and now stable, was moved via ambulance back to the nursing home he's called home for the past four months.
Based on his current status, it didn't necessarily follow that my mind would go directly to his death, but it did. I suppose it's because for the past two months, I've been feeling he would be leaving us. I've pushed it out my mind, repeatedly, but it eventually returns.
It's been nine months since his stroke. Nine months since I've heard him speak, laugh or more characteristically, yell.
This birthday that passed three weeks ago is one of but a handful that he didn't sing me "Happy Birthday". I've listened to last year's voicemail rendition that I know exactly when he pauses to take a deep breath and repeat that I'm his "Little Groundhog" born around 7PM.
"I can't do this. I can't. I can't deal with him being gone."
The thoughts ran together, weighing on me until I burst into tears. I immediately thought back to crying into his arms the night Joscelyne died and chokingly saying, "Daddy, you have to make her wake up! I wasn't finished with her yet! I still need my sister! She's mine!" Death had snatched her, and surely Daddy could grab her back. He hugged me tight and cried, "Baby, I can't. I'm so sorry. I'm so, so, sorry."
That memory made me choke with fear. Who would hold me when he...
"O God, please... PLEASE HELP ME."
In the blur of fearful thoughts, my mind called to the Lord. I knew, in my soul, that no, I cannot handle my Dad dying. But then, I couldn't handle Jos dying, either. In the days following her passing, I chose to, as the old hymn says, lean "on the everlasting arms".
Reflection for the day: I've learned to turn to Him in times of trouble... but am I still giving Him the praise? (Psalm 42)