It is with a very heavy heart that I come tonight to blog. The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of emotion, from the very high to the utmost depths of low!
Saturday morning at 1:45am, my sister Gail (my fathers proxy) received a call once again from the nursing home stating they were taking my dad over to the ER, as he was having issues breathing again.
A few minutes later, they called back to tell her they decided to keep him there instead and increase his oxygen, and would call if need be.
Mom tried calling dad repeatedly in the morning, only to have the phone ring busy. Finally, she was able to get through, only to hear the phone pick up on the other end and then nothing. She called the nurses station and left a message to have someone check on dad.
In the meantime, my sister Kerry and I were out and about and so mom asked us to stop by the nursing home and go in and check on dad. When we got to the nursing home, Victoria was asleep in the back, so Kerry went in alone.
Kerry came out and explained that dad wouldn't answer her as she stood at his door, so she got a nurse, who came down to check on dad. Finally, she was able to go in and see him, but he was basically unresponsive - didn't acknowledge her - was slumped over. They explained it was the medication and that he was tired and weak.
This left us very worried!
Mom and my other sister Gail, decided to go up themselves around 1pm to see dad. Dad was still basically unresponsive, one arm shaking against his stomach, only able to open one eye, not able to speak, he hadn't eaten or drank anything. Mom fed him ice cubes to help quench his thirst, and at one point he did grab her finger and held on for dear life.
After being there a couple hours, they left - the nurse assured them that dad was just tired and it was the effects of the medications. 3:30pm they came home.
5:30pm they received another call from the nursing home stating that dad was not getting better, so they were taking him over to the Emergency Room. Mom and Gail immediately headed up, and I went and picked up my sister Kerry, and we also headed up.
Up until that point, I still thought dad would pull out of this, he'd be fine, back in his room at the nursing home and life would go on. I really believed or perhaps, just wanted to believe, that he'd show us all, and would live another 10 yrs.
But when I walked into his room in the ER, I knew right then, that his time was extremely limited - this was indeed the end - would it be minutes? hours? days? No one could tell us, but this was it. At this point, he was receiving what they call, "Care and Comfort" - measures just to make his final moments in this world tolerable and pain-free.
Dad was hooked up to an IV for hydration - he hadn't eaten since the day before, as well as Ativan and Morphine. We sat there around his bedside, crying, knowing all to well that this was the end of our time with dad. Bells were dinging, lights blinking, machines screeching, words like "extreme tachycardia" flashing across the monitor, all the while, dad lay there, his body cool to the touch, his breathing ragged, his chest heaving, and occasionally his heart stopping every so briefly as it worked so very hard to keep going.
Shortly after, they came and told us they were bringing dad to another room so that we weren't in the ER, with all the loud noises, people, etc. They put us in a big room - brought us snacks, big reclining chairs, blankets, etc. We continued to sit around dad, talking to him - hoping that maybe, by some small chance, he could hear our voices and know that we were with him as he was about to leave us. We shared stories of our youth - how we would run to dad as he was headed to the store and whisper to him, asking him to buy us a candy bar, and not tell mom! LOL! I sat there watching as his body began to involuntarily move, his chest and stomach heaving with every strained breathe he tried to take. I longed to have him awake and just one more time tell me, "not to run with scissors" or "put your gloves and hat on"....just to hear his voice one more time.
We paced back and forth, we sat and cried, we shared stories, and mostly we watched dad.
Mom's pastor stopped by and stayed a while...eventually praying with us before he left around 10:30pm.
As time went on, the episodes of dads heart stopping got more frequent and lasted longer. His body stopped heaving as much with every breath. The involuntary reflexes became fewer and fewer.
I rubbed his hand...stroked his head and face...kissed him...told him how much I loved him and how much the kids loved him. I wanted to lay down next to him and just be his little girl one more time, but that was not possible.
Shortly before midnight, the episodes became one after another - our eyes glued to his chest, waiting to see if each time would be the last one. Mom said her goodbyes, told him it was ok to go. And it wasn't long after that with all four of us around him, loving him till the very end, that my daddy drew his last ragged breath, and passed away.
My own heart felt like it had been ripped out of my bare chest - like it was exposed. I didn't want to believe it. I watched his chest, hoping that at any second, he'd take another breathe, but it became quite apparent that wouldn't happen.
I walked down the hall to the nursing station, bawling my eyes out, to tell them, that it appeared dad had drawn his final breathe. A nurse came in and listened for a heartbeat and confirmed what we already knew, dad was indeed gone.
I cried more...I felt like my legs were jello and would give out....my stomach felt sick and I could feel bile crawling up into my throat...my head was pounding, feeling like it would explode at any second. I kissed dad one last time, stroking his cool face, hoping he knew even though he was unconscious when we got there, that somehow he knew were were there till the very end.
They allowed us to stay as long as we liked - so we spent another hour with dad - making phone calls to loved ones and silently pouring our hearts out to him, least I know I was.
Around 4am, we went over to the nursing home and cleaned out his stuff, so that we wouldn't have to go up there again and face that.
My heart is aching....burning....stabbing pain. Part of me feels this is a bad dream and I hope I wake up and find everything is ok, and the other part of me is angry...angry I didn't get to see dad alive one more time before last night....angry at how unfair life is...angry that at 33 yrs old, I am saying goodbye to my dad for one last time.
Walking out of that hospital room this morning, looking back and knowing that dad would never be coming out of the hospital was gut-wrenching.
Watching your parent, a person you love beyond words, draw their last breathe on this earth as they pass into the next is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
Dad, I hope you knew how much I loved you. You were my hero! I couldn't have asked for a better father. I will miss you forever! You will always have a special place in my heart!
May 4, 1928 - May 17, 2009