I choose to be quite open and vulnerable as I discuss this. I feel like I disappeared a bit in the month of May as I walked out a season of life that is difficult, yet expected at some point in everyone’s life. I’m not talking about an aesthetic treatment to bring about a disappearance of unwanted skin conditions and the evidence of the BLESSING OF MORE YEARS; although of course that is the business that we are in and will continue in but rather the disappearance of a part of life that will not return.
The loss of my father and the life shared with him for my 59 plus years is the disappearance I talk about. So many of you have already experienced this and have (I hope) adapted to that change in your life. I am in process, rather unexpectedly I guess. Although my father faced lymphoma head on in June of 2014 with strength, faith and hope at the age of 83 and I, being a medical professional married to an internist, understood the brevity of that diagnosis, his departure still took the wind out of my sails.
How do you “prepare” for that? How did I?
We spent as much time as possible (he living in another city) with him “living life”. Often people would ask me about his prognosis and I responded with, “we don’t truly know (only God knows that) and his desire is to trust God and live every day of the life he’s blessed with to his fullest” and that’s exactly what he did! Although having lost the love of his life some 3 1/2 years ago and feeling that disappearance painfully so, he continued in life without her, declaring the blessings he had been given while blessing others.
His mind and heart was to continue to do whatever he could for others, sometimes woodworking, sometimes yard work, sometimes running errands and often being an ear for whoever needed one. Always focusing on life and others, always sharing kindness and a smile, and always trusting God for his future. He showed us how to live and yes, even how to die; how to disappear from this life with grace and strength. Since June of 2014 he truly had more good days then bad and it was in early May that his battle against lymphoma started to swing the other way.
I spent many days in May with him in another place.
He was home and living as best he could with his disappearing strength of body and once regular daily activities. He was not bedridden untilthat final week and I am grateful as he in all his years was a strong busy active man of both physical stature and spiritual vitality. His last week of life was spent in the hospital with me, my sisters and my aunt (his “little” sister he so admired and loved) by his side. It was a difficult week but a good one with him. He was choosing to give it his all and allowing his doctor to try a different more aggressive attack against the cancer.
He could do no less but fight to stay with us even though we assured him it was his choice and we would support him either way. He continued to speak words of life to all that visited him and to the staff that cared for him even through his physical struggles. It was not uncommon to hear him say in response to a question asking permission to do something for him, “most certainly”; always gracious and truly never sharp or irritable. So the day his spirit “disappeared” from his failed body he had 19 family around him spending the last moments possible with the man who spent so many moments with them over the years and gave so freely what he had been given freely, love of the Father.
And I, holding his hand as he had so many times held mine with such strength, so grateful to have had such a father and knowing his legacy of love and blessing will go on, felt a piece of me disappear with him. Just a piece though you see, the piece spent with him here, for he directed all of us to remember his love and the blessing of our Father in heaven and to enjoy life!
So some things we are glad disappear from our lives, illness, financial difficulties, a difficult “sandpaper” person, a not so great job, excessive weight and yes even lines, wrinkles, and age spots; but let’s never forget to recognize our blessings and freely give what has been freely given to us, love.