“There is nothing left we can do; Hospice is the only option left.” Those words still rattle within my soul to this day. This past March those were the words spoken to me over the phone in regards to my dad. Let me paint the whole picture of this time period; my sister was in surgery having a 20-pound tumor removed from her uterus, my nine-year-old son was just released from the hospital after seven days, and I was emotionally and physically worn out. My dad had been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) a little over a year ago, and things had progressed. In a matter of days, his MDS had turned to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), and there was no turning back. At this moment God was the only one I could turn to while attempting to navigate which direction I needed to go.
With a clear direction after heavy prayer, I knew exactly what I needed to do, head to Boston from Arkansas. The night I arrived he was in the hospital receiving his 5th unit of blood. I sat there, reached for his hand as I watched the blood drip drop by drop down the plastic tube knowing this was the only possible lifeline my dad had left. As the blood dripped, so did my tears. In this very moment, I felt a firm God nudge. I wasn’t there to just be with my dad; I was there to help him know Jesus and help him know that this was not “goodbye,” but rather “see you later.” My dad went to church as a child, but he and my mom did not raise my sister and me in the church at all. They saw the Christian faith as a checklist and not a relational entity. It was only eight years ago that I gained my relationship with Jesus, and my dad never wanted to hear any part of my faith story.
As I pressed in and enlisted prayers and advice from my Christian friends, one message stood out to me above the rest, “embrace this time, not just in the blessing with your dad, but seeing the veil as close as possible on this side of Heaven.” Let me be honest here, at that moment, I had no clue what she was telling me, but I went with it anyway.
During this time it felt like everything in the world was at a standstill. I would sit, chat, and care for my dad. We had a lot of uphill battles on this journey including finding the right Hospice group to meet his needs and what his doctor wanted for him. We went through five Hospice groups before finding a group that was meant to care for our family. There were no coincidences through this Hospice journey, just God’s fingerprints constantly around showing He was in control. It was almost as if God laid out a breadcrumb trail for us to follow to show us the path that would take us closer to Him along this road.
Within the first two days, the aide came to care for my dad’s basic hygiene needs. She was only a fill-in, and the regular one would be back in on Monday. My dad hit it off so well with her, and let’s say this was not a comfortable area for my dad to listen to anyone. He was listening, they were laughing, and a connection had been immediately formed. To this day I am convinced she was an angel sent by God. She would talk Jesus and share amazing Christian songs with him. Little did we know at the time that she had even come back to work much sooner than she had planned after unexpectedly losing her 29-year-old brother just two weeks prior. In Massachusetts, this is not common to find someone so passionate and open about their Christian faith, but Liz, the aide, only spoke the truth, and my dad absorbed it. Then step in the Chaplain that not only was the Chaplain for this Hospice group but he happened to be the same man that had built a rapport with my dad at the hospital after all his stays. Between the three of us and the Lord, my dad came to know Jesus in his last days and it was such a beautiful sight. We have no doubt that my dad went right into the arms of Jesus on April 18, 2018.
Each step leading up to his journey to Heaven seemed to have a snapshot of, “only God” moments. My computer was completely shut down on one of these days, and loudly it began to play, “Christ alone; cornerstone, weak made strong, in the Savior’s love, through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.” (Shane and Shane, Cornerstone) Moments like these were constant; it was as if Jesus Himself was sitting in the room where my dad spent his last days, just adding love and joy to such a tough journey.
I miss my dad, more than I can even put into words. He was a rock in my life, and I don’t know how to do every day without him. But as I did get to live right next to the veil as my friend had shared with me, I wouldn’t have changed a single moment for anything. I have so many more stories I could share about the amazing love God graced us with through this time, but if I added them all, you might be reading this for at least an hour. So instead of you reading my post for the next few hours, I am going to share what I feel the most important words He has called me to share through this experience is; even in the rock bottom hard, open your heart and eyes to all the possibilities that could wrap around you. The sounds, the sights, the smells, the feel, the tastes of all things are so different when Christ is entirely residing in the moment, and we allow our world to stand still. Embrace the hard and know that He will shine a magnificent light when we allow ourselves not just be broken but to be His.