Day 3 with Dad (Friday, April 19, 2013)
I wish I had happier news that Dad had turned the corner and things looked up, but that was not to be.
Reluctant Heart had promised to meet with Richard, Dad, and I FIRST thing this morning to decide on Hospice; he chose not to show up until late morning. He told us he wasn’t ready for Dad to go, I was standing by Dad’s side, holding his hand, looking at his unresponsive body and said, “But Dad is.”
Richard spoke up stressing the need to honor what Dad wanted; it was not up to us to decide. Richard shared about how his own brother denied their Mother her wishes, and when she was in her final days garnered all her strength up and asked him, “Why are you doing this to me?”
Reluctant Heart grew defensive saying Richard wasn’t part of our family and didn’t know our Dad the way we do, Dad has always bounced back. As he got up from his chair, Reluctant Heart said, “I’m not going to play God” he said my name, and then murmured the decision was now ENTIRELY mine…OMG
I was asked to wait until Reluctant Heart talked to our uncle who was planning on arriving in 6 days to see Dad, and before he left he started crying, I started crying and I agreed to wait.
But I knew.
I had stayed in Dad’s hospital room overnight, listening to the gurgling in his throat, hearing the painful coughing. They were pumping him full of fluids his body could not process and then tried to drain it out of him. He was swollen, unresponsive, unmistakably suffering. They’d already taken 15 pounds of fluid from him his last hospital visit. This is the very definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over again hoping the results will be different.
What was I waiting for?
The pain of letting go and the fear of the unknown were entirely overshadowed by the pain of watching him suffer. Who was I to ask him to stay because I wasn’t ready or couldn’t let him go? The piercing truth I told Rebel Heart over the phone prior to our arrival rang in my head like church bells; we’d never be ready.
Not too long after Reluctant Heart left, I asked the nurse if we could initiate Hospice. A dear lady from Hospice met with Richard and I, gave us all the time in the world to ask questions, discuss it, make sure. I looked at the Healthcare Power of Attorney and I was able to make the decision with my brother, or, by myself.
I knew it was the right thing to do. I’d weighed it in my heart for years. We had our miracle five years ago when Dad wasn’t supposed to have survived his heart problems. But he did…at such a painful, painful price…and maybe, just maybe, because of the suffering I’ve had with TBI could I see the invisible struggle he was living in at 90 years of age.
Dad was moved to Hospice the same day, they had a bed available (one out of only have 15 beds), they are the only Hospice for two of the largest counties in Washington State.
This Hospice was the same place I’d taken a pivotal, healing, grief recovery class at many years ago. That healing is a foundational part of my life to this day. I had the benefit of unshakable, peaceful knowledge; they would take excellent care of Dad.
Knowing Dad was moving to Hospice, Richard and I left the hospital so I could shower, nap, eat and then return to the hospital for his move.
I awoke from the first good rest I’d had in weeks to a terrible, terrible voice mail from our uncle. “I’ve gone to great lengths to get out of Boston, please don’t kill my brother before I get there.” Yes. He said that. It’s still on my voice mail.
I know about the Boston bombings. I cried, I was horrified, as was the rest of the world, but, the hospice worker yesterday told us Dad was living his final days…how is it right of me to ask Dad to continue to suffer, go against his legal wishes, because this doesn’t fit into his travel plans? Wow. I traveled from Montana as soon as I could and even with that, I knew Dad could have died before I got there. If so, the poor planning would have been on me.
Dad’s doctor had actually signed the release papers yesterday (Thursday), I didn’t know that. They knew. Dad’s sister knew. As God as my witness, I was not killing Dad. It was in God’s hands in accordance to Dad’s wishes. I knew no other way of honoring him than doing that which hurt us the most.
Who was I to tell Dad to stay and suffer because I couldn’t let him go?
I didn’t know how many hours or days Dad had left; neither the doctors nor I had the insight on which to rely. We took it one step at a time, one painful breath at a time.
My conscience was clear, but feared a war was about to start…
That voice mail sent me into a crying spree I couldn’t stop. As if I wasn’t already feeling the weight of the world…