There's nothing more they can do for my dad.
That's what I said when people asked - as I either wept when embraced by colleagues or trembled as I composed an email before leaving for home. It turns out that my job was eliminated in a reorganization. So I was interviewing last week, which was either a good distraction or a gross misprioritization as I stayed to talk about myself rather than rushing home to the hospital when Dad was admitted on Monday.
I instead returned on Wednesday - the planned trip south being replaced with a more urgent one. My bag containing a black dress and shoes that I certainly hadn't been planning to bring. I've stuffed them in a drawer in the wardrobe that stands in the corner of the back bedroom. But the time when we can pretend this situation is better than it is - remain in blissful denial and daily distractions - has passed.
We brought him home yesterday, all of us relieved that he insisted on leaving the hospital. It would have been very un-Daddy-like to stay.
Hospice came yesterday and I scrawled my signature under his on the consent and no-CPR forms. Brother was closer - steadying the clipboard and pointing to the appropriate line for our father, but he handed the forms to me instead of signing them. So I did, our brown eyes meeting in the saddest of gazes while Dad sat in his chair and Mom took a much-needed nap down the hall.
Dad's eyes are blue - a pretty, pale shade. He's not in pain - we keep asking and medicating - but he murmurs and reaches while he rests. Sometimes his eyes are open and glazed. Others they are wide and sharp - with some mixture of fear or demand or inquiry.
The first night - Wednesday - I told him that I was scared. He replied that everyone is.
This morning I prayed, kneeling on the floor beside his swollen legs and curling my fingers around his pinkie and ring finger of his bruised and battered hand. I reached for Mom and she stretched over him as they sat together on the couch with its extra cushions to provide height and softness. And we asked for comfort and peace and readiness.
"What am I praying for?" the pastoral care lady asked and I started to cry, clinging to Brother's hand, and we turned to look at Dad.
"Comfort," he said, eyes barely open as he sat unsteadily in the recliner. And I nodded, apologizing for my lack of composure as I waved my hands and tried desperately to explain that I didn't want him to be afraid or in pain. I wanted God's will to be done in terms of timing, but for Him to prepare my daddy for the next part of his journey.
It's such a strange process - the mixture of profound emotional matters with figuring out how to go to the bathroom and why he's cramping (beyond the liver/kidney failure that's taking him from us).
I therefore have moments of peace and clarity and those where I can't catch my breath beyond the sobbing. Sympathy makes me cry more but I'd ask that you pray if you do such things. I'd also ask that you do something kind today - buy someone coffee, adopt a puppy (and name him Jim), give extra to charity, call a member of your family. Just something to make the world a little bit better for Dad's last days in it.