I never dreamed this Emergency Room visit would be our last. A statement that I have always heard through the years is that “a person never realizes what they have until it is gone”. Well, tonight I completely had a meltdown. I believe that statement is true. I was wanting my dad to come back and tell me that he was no longer sick, and that he was going to take my mom out to their favorite restaurant, and they would come by to see us when they are through eating just like before. I got excited because that is what mom and dad always did and then reality set in. The hurt I feel is unbearable at times. I can’t even imagine the pain that my mom is experiencing. I have only lost a child, and that nearly killed me, but never have I lost a spouse.
As I watched my mom and dad go through this trial, I seen so much love between them. At times the room became quiet and in the stillness of the room, it was like my dad knew his journey would end soon. He was going home to see Jesus soon, but it felt as if he was trying to protect us as we dealt with the cancer diagnosis. Having the heart attack was the answer to finding the cancer. Some people may not understand that concept and that’s okay. The days leading up to his arrival in Heaven, he would call out our names and let us know what we need to do and how to handle things. I was walking down the hallway and I heard him telling my sister all the things that needed to be done in the garage and the things that needed to be given to people. He told my husband the same thing. He was getting things taken care of for us so we wouldn’t have to worry and that would be one less thing to do before he left. He really fought the battle! He gave all that he could give in those three months. Needless to say, not only are my children my heroes, but my dad will forever be my hero too!
The diagnosis was like the flip of a light switch. We found out about the cancer and then two and a half months later, he’s gone. An emergency room visit became a horrible nightmare. It started with lower back pain. No sooner than the medicine was given for the pain, My dad started seizing and then rolled toward me and my knees caught him before he hit the floor. I asked him if his throat was hurting or burning and if his chest was hurting and he told me that it was starting to. Right then, my mom and I started alerting the doctors to let them know that he was about to have a heart attack and as I tried to turn him onto his back to keep him from falling, somehow in the mix of the tossing and turning, my dad grabbed the hospital bed rail and I watched my dad’s face turn a pale white and his eyes were glazed the prettiest blue color and as he looked upward, he rolled over onto my mom’s side and collapsed in her arms. I watched him take (what I thought at that time) his last breath as his tongue and lips turned a dark purplish black color and never had I experienced the most devastating and scariest moment with a parent as I watched my dad’s heart completely stop. Doctor’s finally came in the room and it took four times to revive him. We had to leave the room while the doctor’s were working on him, but when the doctors and nursing staff gave us an update, the news given to us was that he had a massive heart attack. It confirmed what we already knew. He needed surgery to put a stint in, so that’s what his cardiologist and team of doctors did. We waited patiently as best as we could. Finally after a while, the doctor came and got us to let us know that his stint surgery went well. We felt relieved! We were happy that things were starting to become better and we can fix this and do better and life can be like it was before, then the doctor said, “I have some bad news”. We obviously thought that we had just seen the bad news, but the doctor said “your husband, your dad, has stage 4 lung cancer”. Our mouth’s hit the floor. We were in shock. Confusion filled my mind as I was trying to process this information. My mom and I looked at one another and we knew right then that the battle was just beginning without even saying a word. We began to prepare for war. We were already use to it, so we got things in order and began the process of fighting for my dad’s life.
The only treatment that was given to my dad was ten daily rounds of radiation. It worked some, but didn’t do much. The radiation was so strong that it left burnt holes on his stomach area as if he were burned with a cigarette. Radiation Therapy is an extreme energy that kills cancer cells. The treatment is painless. It is almost like getting an open MRI scan. Radiation helps some patients, but often you have patients that seem to need more because the cancer has either spread to another section in the body, or the radiation killed the cancer cells in the spots where the cancer is. My dad’s pain was still so strong and intense. Time was running out…. The cancer was already spreading to his spine. I watched my dad lose his ability to walk. Within weeks, the cancer was metastatic and slowly paralyzing him. It was hard to watch as we knew what the end result would be. It was difficult to see him lose all of his abilities as if he were paralyzed from the neck down. I watched as he tried to pick up his left arm with his right hand just to put it behind his head while laying there. Watching my dad suffer the most horrific pain a person can go through was too much for my hurting heart. After we had a plan in place, I watched my mom be the strongest I have ever seen her be. My mom is such a sweet and kind soul. She is the most honest person I have ever known. We have had some long days and nights the past few months. While in the Emergency Room that last night at the University of Birmingham (UAB), I was checking my messages and as I looked up, this was the image I seen…
A lifetime of love is in this picture and the forty-two years of marriage that both my parents have shared together were spent with one another. I admire how they both still have love for one another after all those years like they were still dating. They both shared about the good times and apologized for all the bad times. I am happy that God allowed them to have those moments to love, trust, and forgive through the years.
As my dad was getting closer to his Home in Glory, he was hurting really bad and there was nothing we could do other than give him what was prescribed for him. My mom grabbed his hand and told him that it was okay. She said “I am going to be okay babe, it’s okay to let go and go Home to Jesus. I want you to go because I don’t want you to hurt anymore. God is calling you home”.
My dad had reached a point of no longer speaking. I thought to myself…. “I use sign language with Brent because he is non-verbal, this will work with my dad too”. So, we would ask him questions and we told him to raise his eyebrows for yes, and he knew right then what to do and I thought to myself…”yes, we still have communication. My dad’s mental state was still in tact, even though his body was physically impaired. He could no longer speak, but he began to mumble words together with his mouth closed. My mom and I looked at one another and were trying to make out what he was saying and then out of nowhere my dad speaks…”there’s so many people” My mom and I got chills. We knew he was about to enter Heaven. A little while passed and my dad started mumbling some more and again out of nowhere my dad speaks as clear as I am writing this blog page.. he said, “Well, there’s my boy!” My mom and I looked at one another again and we both said “Brandon” My dad was seeing my son Brandon”. I knelt down by his bed and held his hand with tears flowing down my face. I wanted to be in that very moment to see what all my dad was seeing. I knew he was getting a glimpse of Heaven as he was getting ready to enter into the Kingdom of God. My dad’s last words were to my mom. He said, “I love you”. He then slipped into the ending stage (coma stage) of death and at 1 am on April 18, 2019, my dad went Home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My dad had just turned sixty-one years old. He passed eight days after his sixty first birthday. I don’t know why God allows people to experience different endings to life, but I am thankful that He allowed us to have what little time we did have with my dad and that through his death, we step back and take a look at what all God has done in the process.
Since my dad’s death, there have been a lot of changes and we are trying to get use to the “new normal”. It seems as though he is just gone for a little while to run an errand and will be back in a few minutes. Our new normal has completely turned our world around, but we are taking little steps at a time to move forward. Brently loves his paw-paw and misses him and his brother so much just like we all do. Brently responds to death and sadness just like you and I. He really misses his paw-paw. The games they would play together, the noises they both would make, the fist bumps and favorite tv shows are just a memory now, but I keep telling Brently that there will come a day when our faith becomes sight and because of that, our one goal in this life is to never forget who we are in Christ and to love one another because one day…. we as christians, will see our loved ones again if you know Jesus!