I am about to write about a trauma in my life that almost killed me, and sometimes? Well, on the rare occasion, when I am in the fetal position, in gripping despair? I wish it had.
I have never written about this subject matter. No, I wasn’t ready, willing or prepared to throw my family under the bus. How have things changed? God has given me the courage to bare my soul-and I firmly believe that secrets make us sick.
The picture above has never been touched-no photo shop, no tricks. It is a picture I took after the Holy Spirit nudged me to step outside and take a picture. All I could see was mist and rain. The camera lens saw more, much, much more. When I brought my Walmart special up to my eyes, I could see them, at least seven-beings of white light attached to white crosses. It hasn’t happened since, but that it occurred at all? This, my dear friends, was a miracle.
This may take some time, and I’ll be honest-it will be much longer than my usual blog, as this story is a part of who I am, who God has molded me to be, and what the faith of the tiniest mustard seed can do.
Back in 2003, my father was laying in a local ICU, his kidneys failing-his leg, after several surgeries-amputated up to the knee. My husband and I had been taking care of him, since the Spring. Dad had many diabetes related health issues, and the stress of meeting his needs was a growing concern. After finding the Meals on Wheels woman on his front porch (he hadn’t picked up the phone, but used to his ways, I had been determined to get some cleaning done) then subsequently finding daddy in a diabetic coma, his peritoneal dialysis machine screaming in protest; he had blood running from the corner of his mouth, and his moaning was guttural, raw.
Don’t leave me daddy, don’t you leave like this.
The EMTs had arrived, and so had my husband and his best friend. I was out of my mind with worry and grief. I blamed myself. I went after the chubby Paramedic who moved so slowly, I thought my father would perish before she made it to the bedroom. My husband had to pull me off of her; I am not proud of my behavior, but like I said, I had become unhinged and knew that each moment that passed was not in his favor.
We stood outside in the lawn, as they worked on my father in the ambulance. He was revived and taken to the hospital. I got on the phone, called my siblings.
“No more. Please, I am begging you,” I cried to my sister. “Daddy needs to be in a nursing home.”
And so it was that we found my father a room in a skilled nursing facility. Most evenings I would get a call that the nurses couldn’t figure out my father’s equipment, even after I had given a demonstration, twice. I would run over to the home, in my pajamas more times than not, and restore the dialysis machinery. One day, while visiting, my father fell in the hallway. I jumped up from my seat in the dining room, flipped off my heels, and ran towards him as if his life depended on it-turns out the nurses were nowhere to be found, and that was the first “incident.” He was still much safer at StoneRidge, and I had spoken with the home’s director about keeping him there. My siblings went behind my back and spoke to the director as well. Only they insisted that my father was absolutely FINE and could go home whenever he was ready.
I blame them for his death, which happened two days, TWO DAYS, after his release from the nursing facility they claimed he did not need. But it got much worse. Although I was daddy’s POA, they hastily planned his cremation and funeral the next day-at my niece’s birthday party. I was beyond hurt; I was incredulous.
“That’s what dad wanted,” my brother stuttered. NO. In the almost year that I cared for him (in a house up the road, as we could not afford an addition-and dad couldn’t do our steep, farmhouse stairs) nothing was ever said about cremation.
A week after his passing, I received a phone call from my sister, explaining that she and my brother had planned an estate sale, that they would be selling our precious family heirlooms. I did not attend that circus, and my husband spent thirty-eight dollars on a painting I had done in first grade, just so I would have that memory. During that phone call, I was accused of “stealing” my father’s money: over a sixty eight dollar grocery bill.
At the end of the day they had robbed me of everything I held dear. My father, who had lost his home to the IRS after losing his paper company, had very little money-and I wanted no part of it. To this day I believe that the money was the issue that drove them to cremate my father.
The moral of this story?
Love. Love passionately and fully, never taking for granted your beloveds.
Time is too precious. Love too rare.