Isa. 38:18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
On October 16th my dad went into the hospital. Being so far away is hard but I imagine not as much pressure as on the ones who have to be there day in and day out and watch the lighthouse of their life crumble before their eyes. When he went in he had told my mother that he wouldn’t be coming back home. She just shrugged it up to his tiredness.
Like water in a clogged drain, my father kept going down, slowly and exhaustively. My mother was tiring but kept holding on to the threads of her husband who was once vital in their daily walk of life. For sixty years they were one for each other. No one else in the world seemed to exist and he was her lighthouse that she sought out in the dark.
By the 23rd she held onto hope that he would be coming home, not in the condition he went in but much worse off than what he was before entering the hospital. Her daily visits to the hospital, by either my sister or brother, were tiring for her but she kept going on, no matter what, she was holding onto hope that he’d be coming home.
I’ve called twice a day for the last two weeks and what I heard on the other end was not good. He had slept and slept and on a rare occasion would wake then drift off to sleep. He went from ICU to a ‘room’ then back to ICU and then back to a room.
Ironically his first room number was 405. Our address growing up and where we resided for almost 30 years was 1405. The next room he was put in was 317, the time of my first child’s birth/death. Also, it was the same floor and same hospital where my grandmother died one room over in 316 a few years ago.
My feeling in my sunken heart was that this is it; this will be the week my father dies. I cried, I sobbed like a baby, hoping beyond hope my feelings were wrong. By the 25th my mother had seen a ray of hope, my dad sat up and talked. He sat in the chair (as opposed to lying helpless in the bed) and conversed. By Sunday he was back to sleeping hours on end, not looking as good as he had the day before.
By Monday the 26th there was talk of putting him in a hospice because there was nothing they could do. He was now seeing people who weren’t there and talking gibberish in his sleep. They were going to take him off the defibrillator because his heart is being overworked. The doctor said this is a painful step as his oxygen is minimal and his heart is pumping at abnormal rates. His blood pressure would drop to a deathly low then soar to an astronomical high. Would he make it through the night? The doctor’s and all around him said no!
The call came in that they had to make a decision to turn the defibrillator off. I spoke to my mother and said is this what you want. After I told her to let him go in peace not pain and the conversation ended with he’d be taken off the life source keeping him alive.
I called my brother, the black sheep whom no one has conversed with, and told him the defibrillator would be turned off and that he wasn’t expected to make it through the night. We cried, we laughed, we spoke of old times, and we mourned. I hung up the phone and drained remaining tears as I let my father go. I would sit and wait impatiently for the call that my father had passed. It never came.
Instead, at nine p.m my mother called and said they DIDN’T turn the defibrillator off. My father had awakened and said not to touch it, he just wanted to go home. This is something impossible since they can’t send the machine home with him to keep him alive. I believe there is another aspect of… affordability. The hospital has done all it can, told the family the options, and they are releasing him to the unknown. Ten to fifteen hours of sleep, the machine alone keeping him alive, pain and suffering abound, the heart and lungs trying to pump the very last second of life as the host lay waiting to take his last breath.
My mother said he was not supposed to make it through the night even with the defibrillator keeping him alive. My day and night was spent mourning like a baby who lost their first puppy.
After calling my mother twice in the early morning and not getting an answer, wondering if he was alive or dead, I waited the entire day of the 27th for ‘the phone call’ that never came. Instead at 5:30 she did call to tell me that they put him back in a room, #316 by the way, and that he was having hallucinations, unable to eat whole food because he was choking on it, then sleeping for hours on end.
I’ve struggled with the decision to put him at rest but it had to be done to face the inevitable. I woke feeling a peace around me because I had let my father go. I don’t know where his destination will end, I cannot be certain because his destination is his; it is between him and God
Today the 28th they will decide to put my father in a hospice against his wishes (remember he just wants to go home), to live basically on life support. The ones back home have had to make this heart wrenching decision. I cannot fathom what they are enduring and the guilt of not being there is sometimes overwhelming but I feel peace because I’ve done the hardest part on my end and that is… I let my father go.