Yesterday was remarkably peaceful. I could feel the prayers - love and support and comfort - whisper around me, like fingers against my forehead or arms around my shoulders.
So I rested. We gave Dad morphine in the morning after a restless night and we all - Mom, Brother, me, Dad - lapsed into this gentle sleep.
"Mom's worried that he hasn't moved since we gave him the medicine," Brother said when I awakened this morning. I nodded and paused to brush my teeth, then moving to the living room to have Mom express her concern directly to me.
"They'll bring the hospital bed today," I said, settling next to her on the couch in front of the window. "We'll move him then."
I joined a teleconference, hopeful that my efforts would assist in landing me the job I covet. The bed was delivered while I was talking and I finished up my portion and came back inside to look at the adjustable contraption.
I rested on it when Mom asked if it was comfortable, squirming a bit and pronouncing it fine.
"Should we give morphine?" I asked before the transport team arrived to help move him. But we debated, deciding he was so peaceful and the last dose seemed to last for so long, and decided to wait.
Dad groaned in pain when Mom moved his leg. He'd let it dangle to the floor from the couch and the adjustment hurt. But it was nothing compared to the coming onslaught. Five or six people arrived to help move him onto a 'transport sheet' which would then be used to shift him from couch to bed.
And my kind, gentle father - rendered even more so by his current condition - called out in misery. 'Ow ow ow,' and 'you're hurting me' and I tried to speak soothingly until I broke down in the face of such suffering.
"I'm so sorry, Daddy," I sobbed. "They're almost done - it's almost over." But I lied - over and over in that 3 minutes - as they continued to roll and nudge and arrange his diseased body. "Oh, God, help us," I begged and sagged when they finally finished, shivering with reaction and weeping at the side of the bed, holding to the siderails and begging forgiveness from my dad.
I let them hurt him.
This man who always protected me - who drove me to turn in my thesis after my committee delayed my defense. Who drove 6 hours to deliver a snowblower when I called - exasperated - and said I could not clear my sidewalks. Who held me when I was scolded at my first retail job for sitting down instead of straightening. Who cheered me on and beamed with pride and loved me too much to leave me in the nursery when I was born. And ever since.
Aunt and Cousin came afterward - I had Mom call as I was falling to pieces and had nothing left to comfort her after the trauma of our afternoon. They came and prayed and cleaned and hugged and patted. Brother came back from work. And we all gathered around this bed in the center of the living room and took turns talking softly and crying hard. Because the end seems to be coming more quickly now.
The evening has turned to shit - literally. Changing pads and hurting him more as we roll and clean him. Brother says 'I love you' before we begin each time and it makes me physically ill. This is not the love you speak of, is it? The kind that is elemental and disgusting and viciously loyal?
Trembling once again, I went to the front porch to sit on the steps, Blackberry in hand. I scrolled through new emails and called the head interviewer when I saw a request for us to speak tomorrow. He returned my call and I asked him to just tell me the results - 3 good candidates but only 1 job.
And he didn't pick me.
So I took a breath and gathered my bruised pride and broken heart and returned to the house, the sounds of Dad's restless mumbling emerging from open windows. I told Mom and Brother and saw Dad frown as he listened. Then we had to change the linens once more.
I sat to write this post, tapping lightly on the keyboard as I sat in Dad's chair above the head of his deathbed. I was nearly finished - having finished the first sentence of that last paragraph - when Mom said my name and that Dad was going.
"No," I replied, in my typical state of denial. "He's just resting." Still, I rose and sat by his head and prayed yet again. I've done little but pray and cry today, honestly.
"I think he's gone," Brother whispered after we said Amen. But I thought I heard him breathing - shallow but peaceful. But then I couldn't find a pulse. And even after turning off the waterfall noise we had in the background, I couldn't hear him breathe.
"Is he gone, Katie?" Mom asked, covering him with another prayer shawl.
And I nodded and bent my head to grieve.
"I'm fine," I said, gulping back tears. "I prayed about it and it's really OK. I understand.