This past week has been the hardest week of my life.
My father passed away on Thur, July 12 and nothing could have ever prepared me for that.
I arrived on Mon afternoon and when I walked in to his hospice room everyone was sitting silently around his bed. His wife roused him enough to let him know I was there and I'll never forget the look in his eyes as he said my name.
For the most part he stayed in a sleeping state and when he was awake it was more like a semi-consciousness. When he was semi-conscious he was experiencing the terminal agitation, which even though I read about it, it's not the same as seeing it first hand.
My brother and I stayed in the hospice room Monday-Wed along with his wife. It was so hard seeing my dad in that condition, knowing he wasn't really there with us. I couldn't believe the change in him since we were there on the 4th of July.
On Wed the chaplain arranged to have communion in my dad's room with all his family. After that he brought us all to the family area and told us about a book called Final Gifts. A lot of time the person who is dying waits until everyone has left the room and chooses that time to pass away - as their gift to you. He was saying that my dad might be hanging on waiting for a moment like that and we were always in his room surrounding him and maybe we wanted to talk as a family and go out to eat etc. So we did just that and gave him some time alone in his room if that was what he had wanted and was waiting for.
He was really agitated on Wed afternoon and they added Haldol to his meds. We finally got him in what seemed to be a pretty comfortable position and he basically didn't wake up after that. I went to bed and wanted to pray for another day, but I knew if I had another day I'd ask for another one after that, and another. I knew that having another day wouldn't be enough. Instead I prayed for my dad to have peace and to not suffer anymore. I knew he wouldn't have wanted to be in the state he was in for very long.
He slept all through Wed night, unlike the previous nights where he was up a lot with the agitation. We didn't even hear him coughing throughout the night like he had been. We woke up Thur and it seemed like he was so peaceful. His heart rate was regular and his breathing steady, although we knew he had pretty bad lung congestion. It seemed like he could've gone on like he was for another week or so and we were in limbo. That morning I asked the nurse what she thought and she agreed - that in his present state he probably could go another week like that; because he was young, active and breathing ok. She even said, "Do I think it'll be today or even tomorrow? No, not with how he is now."
His wife and I left that morning around 10 to go have breakfast. I came back that afternoon around 2ish with one of my brothers. No one was in the room and when we walked in I was stunned to see how my dad's breathing had changed...he was breathing very rapidly and noisily, nothing like he was when I left him that morning. I kissed him on the head and told him, "Remember Dad, if you need to go it is ok. We all understand." Eventually everyone had come back from various errands and
were either on the patio or in the family room.
The nurse tried a few things to make him more comfortable and to hopefully get his breathing to slow down. She said to make sure we pushed the button for the bolus on his morphine every 15 min. I was in his room alone, sitting in a far corner, I got up to give him the extra dose of morphine and sat down in the chair by his bed.
My brother and my father's wife came in the room at that time and a few seconds later so did the nurse. She said his breathing had slowed to a more normal rate and as we were all staring at him something changed with his breathing. All of a sudden he took his last breaths and the rest of the family was called in to his room. We were all around his bedside with him. I just couldn't believe that as of that morning he seemed like he would hang on for another week and by that evening we were saying our final goodbyes to him.
I can't believe he is gone. I can't believe I won't ever see my father again or hear his voice. He was too young and had so much life left in him. I miss him more that I ever imagined I would.
Some of my favorite pictures from when I was a girl...