Monday, August 1, 2011

When the Tears Stop

Ecclesiastes says there is a time to be born and a time to die….a time for rejoicing and a time for weeping. Indeed death has come and though the visible weeping has ended there remains in my heart a dull ache…a missing and a great longing to have my dear father back again. What began as a short trip to see him once more turned into 3 weeks away from home.
How on a public blog does one explain the events of the last 3 weeks of one’s life especially that of one’s father?
How does one explain what it was like to have him ask me to stay to help care for him?
How does one explain what it was like to gently rub his head to calm his anxious feelings when he had so much trouble breathing? 
How does one explain the helplessness we felt when he would get bursts of intense pain?
How does one explain the day that he asked me to feed him because he couldn’t lift his own hand to his mouth anymore…to hold his cup for him and place his pills in his mouth and the look of love at times he gave during these times?
How does one fully express the thoughts that went through the mind day by day while holding his hand as life of this dear one began to fade more and more?
How does one explain the joy and love in the depth of the heart to be able to care for him during his last weeks?
How does one explain and hide away in one’s heart when a few days before he died he was given strength to address his children for several minutes urging them to, “seek the Lord first,” and to hear him say that God is a merciful God and to hear him express the burden that was on his heart for the souls of his many children and grandchildren?
How does one explain the almost panic that was in the heart when no food or drink could go down his throat anymore without him choking and the fear of being the one to choke him?
How does one explain the desire to forever etch in the mind those tender moments of that  day when kneeling alone beside his bed holding both of his hands in mine he put up his hand and so gently rubbed my face and for the first and last time in his life as he looked in my eyes these words were so gently and lovingly spoken, “Donna, I love you!” How can one explain to another, what these words meant…being the only time they were ever spoken?
How does one fully comprehend and explain what it was like for him with tears in his eyes to ask “who will take care of mother?”
How can one explain the fear that was in his heart when he asked what would happen if his children would leave him?
How does one explain the thoughts of a mother when prayer was made in church for the lonely and widows and he heard it on the church phone and squeezed her hand although he couldn’t speak?
How does one explain the thoughts of the heart when a few hours before he died he (although fully conscious) could no longer speak and as all his children and some grandchildren were gathered around his bed and sang Psalter 114 to him he still tried to mouth the words and make sound come out?
How does one explain the thoughts…the helplessness…the fear…the sorrow that went through the mind when this man who was your father…the pillar of your home, struggled for over 3 hours for every breath as you held his hand and then the final breath was taken and he was gone…..?
How does one explain how empty his death makes one feel?
How does one explain the question which begs to be asked….who will be next?
As I write this I am reminded that as husband and wife we have lost an unborn child at 16 weeks, each of us has lost a brother and each of us our father. We have witnessed in our life the loss of the very young, the strong and healthy and the old….are we prepared for the day when someone may have to write these very words about us?


  1. We can't explain, we just remember and be thankful that we were there and could experience these special times with Dad. The tears for the most part have changed to a dull ache as you said. Maybe someday the precious memories will overpower the ache. But for now, we miss him so very much. Thanks for writing this Donna. I love you sister!

  2. That is so powerful. Anything I'd say would only detract from the beauty and the power of the words you expressed. Remembering you in prayer.
    Anne x

  3. Thank you for writing this although I'm sure it was difficult. I have benefitted from it! Thank you!