Anytime I was with my dad, when it was time to go, he would grab me and we would put our foreheads together and lock eyes for a few moments and just stare at each other until he was ready and would finally say, “I love you sugar”. To which I would reply, “I love you too, Dadio”. It always happened.
I have decided to share this very hard and raw moment and have some things to say about it. I hope you take the time to read it all.
We have a very real enemy. Too powerful for us to fight on our own. His claws and teeth find a way into our life on a daily basis, one way or another. We can see this in our own sin, we can see this by how other’s sin hurts or affects us, or perhaps we see it in the brokenness of this fallen world. If 2020 hasn’t shown us that, I don’t know what will.
I am compelled to proclaim that Christ and Christ alone, by the power of the Holy Spirit can help us overcome…even if we are left with scars.
So much led up to the moment in this picture. Dad had been by himself for over a month in the hospital… on a ventilator for 19 days. His lungs were scarred and not getting better. Time was running out and a decision had to be made to put him on a long term ventilator, (with a small chance of even surviving the procedure) or being taken off the machines, which were keeping him alive. We pleaded with the head nurse on Saturday, October 10th to let us in to see him so that HE could make the decision. Just a few days prior to this, was when we realized he was actually more aware at times than we thought so we felt strongly he had every right to be apart of this gut wrenching decision.
They made exceptions and allowed us to come in the following morning…Sunday, October 11th. They adjusted his sedation so that when we got there at 10am, he would be aware. And he was. I don’t think I have it in me to really describe what that moment was like seeing him for the first time. Turning the corner into his room and seeing his weakened body and tubes everywhere. His sweet, heavy eyes showed a combination of happiness and confusion. And he couldn’t speak.
A lot of preparation went into letting dad know the situation he was in and the decisions that needed to be made. My amazing brother did a the most incredible job looking at dad in the eyes and letting him know clearly and slowly what was happening. Dad couldn’t speak, but could squeeze hands, nod a little and blink eyes. Blake let him know the options.
“Dad, squeeze my hand 3 times if you want to have the procedure to stay on machines”. No squeezes.
“Okay, Dad, you did not squeeze. Dad, squeeze my hand 3 times if you are ready to go Home and see Jesus”.
A moment goes by…
“There’s two”… another pause…
“Okay, Dad, you are saying you are ready to turn off the machines and go to Heaven”. There was nodding. It was so clear and sure. Dad understood and made the decision for himself.
We let the nurses and doctors know and they started the process. Dad was ready to get it going. Our main concern was to keep him completely comfortable the entire time. This would of course mean sedating him again before anything could start happening. I lost all track of time in that room that day, but before he “fell back asleep” we had some very sweet moments together. He was able to express so much love for his beautiful bride, Elizabeth. He even made us laugh at times. And as you can see, we put our foreheads together and locked eyes one last time. He did that with all of us that day. I could feel him saying “I love you sugar”.
This picture shows the ramifications of what this fallen world can bring. Sickness, pain, suffering, sadness. My father being deprived of speaking any last words. Moments away from death.
But it shows so much more than that. It shows deep love. It shows understanding and everything being said without any words being spoken at all. He couldn’t see our smiles because of the masks, he couldn’t speak because of the ventilator… but our eyes told each other everything. And because of Christ’s miraculous birth, His perfect life, His death, resurrection and ascension, this picture shows HOPE!!
The enemy has sunk his nasty teeth in and it would appear that it destroyed us. I can not lie at the brokenness and deep grief I feel from all of this. It is indeed very painful. But, what I am desperate to share is that while the enemy has knocked us around and my dad did not survive, the enemy was not victorious.
My father’s faith in Jesus as his Savior was real. It was personal. He looked us straight in the eyes, fully aware of what it meant and chose to turn off the machines. You see, Dad wasn’t moments away from death. He was moments away from LIFE. Eternal Life. “O death, where is your victory, O death, where is your sting” rings loud in my mind!!
We poured scripture about heaven and eternity over him, we prayed and we worshipped. We played one of his favorite songs and dad, as weak as he was, tried to lift his hands in praise. I have never seen anything like it in my life. A man moments away from leaving his time on earth…praising his God.
You know, this really is about Christmas. Perhaps it doesn’t seem that way, but it is. It SO is. Okay, maybe not the commercialized Christmas…but the true meaning of Christmas…absolutely. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, has taken on a whole new meaning for me this year, or should I say, a deeper meaning. What happened to dad and the way it happened was traumatic. No other way to say it. But it’s in this place of extreme pain where I am convinced, now more that ever how much the coming of Christ MATTERS!! As I sit and prepare my heart for what this season represents and I look at the manger scene, I see a baby that truly changes everything! He came. Promises made and promises fulfilled. He came. This is HUGE!! God with us. Hope is here! Hope is a person and hope has a name. His name is Jesus, the name above every other name!!
This holiday season will look and feel so very different. I know it will for so many of you this year. So much loss and separation in this time. I think it’s safe to say just about everyone has been impacted by the brokenness of this world for one reason or another and there are probably a lot of scarred hearts because of it.
Friend, I pray you look to Jesus and put your trust in Him. He loves you and He wants you. He has come and will come again. It’s a promise! And guess what…He keeps His promise! And He knows a thing or two about pain and suffering. He himself has scars to show it. He was born in extremely humble circumstances. And sacrificially died in the most excruciating and humiliating way ever created. He identifies with our suffering. So, when the enemy sinks his teeth in and leaves a wound that feels like it won’t possibly heal… may you remember the hope we have in Christ.
I see so much in this picture…but what overwhelms it all is Hope. That’s not the last time I will see him. And I have a feeling he’ll have a lot to say!
Please feel free to share this or tag anyone you think would be encouraged to read this. Or if you are struggling with anything or grieving and just need to be heard and prayed for, please let me know. It would be an honor.