My daddy died on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.
I don’t know if there is anything that could have ever prepared me for that phone call. My sister was screaming and crying hysterically. Even though I knew what it meant, my denial of the possibility still wanted to hear the words. “Come home, he’s code blue! Come home now!” I tried to calm her. I tried to be the “adult.” But I just was not prepared for her to say code blue. She hung up. I waited.
As I sat on the side of the bed, confused and alone, I had no one to call. I could only wait. My husband was unreachable, my children were in school. I was 300 miles away. My sister called back, “They revived him, come home.” A text from my brother. “Come home. It ain’t looking good.” I began to weep. Still in denial, I text my mom, “Do I need to come?” Her response was simple and painful. “Yes.” I was frozen on my bedside with the phone in my hand. My dad had been hospitalized before, they had never told me to come home. My brother called, it was the highly educated, wise, personable, doctor that we had all liked and trusted throughout dad’s illness on the line. I listened intently: “Your father went into full cardiac arrest and we have had to shock him 9 times. We have added a stint and a valve which do not seem to be working. We do not expect him to live the next 30 minutes. Don’t rush to come home. Take your time.” “Okay, thank you,” I replied, and hung up the phone. I fell off my bed onto the floor and wailed. I cried until my head hurt. Then I called my brother back. “Get me in the room!” I demanded. Through modern technology, I was able to see my daddy’s face. I told him I loved him, and it was okay to go if God was calling him to do so.
My daddy did not die that day.
A stellar athlete in his youth, my dad loved the game of baseball. He had taught me all aspects of the game, but the most important was what he taught me about hitting. “Gal, don’t you EVER stand in that box without swinging that bat. You ALWAYS go down swinging!” My daddy went down swinging. He defied the odds of the medical field and baffled his doctor. He was lucid, conscious and talking off and on for 8 days after the doctor gave him 30 minutes to live. I made it to his bedside, and stayed in the hospital with him around the clock his last days on Earth. During that time, everyone that was important to him came to visit and say goodbye. He was weak, and heavily medicated, but he was himself. He made us laugh and ticked off his nurse. Classic daddy. There was a lot of singing and praying, hugs and kisses. He would drift in and out of consciousness, but as a fierce competitor, he would often ask me his condition. I would tell him he was doing good. “I’m doing good?” “Yes, daddy, you’re doing good.” “OK baby.” The day I left, he had been taken off all forms of life support. He was breathing on his own and his heart was beating on its own. As I walked out of the room to go back home, I told him I loved him and was proud of him. He looked me in my eyes and said, “I love you too baby.” My father died 24 hours later.
My daddy went down swinging.
I am grateful to the Lord for allowing us those final precious days with my dad. Our family clung to every breath he took. We studied every movement and every gesture. We responded to every word he uttered, whether lucid or not. In those final days, God gave us peace. He comforted us as he slowly transitioned our dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful for those final days. Even though we will miss him dearly here on Earth, we do not weep as those who have no hope. We know he is with Jesus. We take each day moment, by moment, but our hope lies in the resurrection of Christ. We have a comforter. We have a savior that bore our sins and infirmities so that we can live with him forever. For that, I am thankful. My dad’s confession was that he would live and not die. He now lives forever with Christ.