There are certain conversations you have with people you will never forget.
The words spoken not only reach the mind but slips into the depths of the heart.
Deeply etched, deeply impactful…possibly life-changing.
Here’s the backdrop and one such conversation I had with my dad’s hospice nurse.
Exhaustion had set in.
My body, my mind and my emotions were feeling the weight of things out of my control.
Every part of me absorbing the suffering my dad was experiencing. Not just the physical pain, but the emotional pain of letting go.
Having a front row seat of witnessing someone you love lose their abilities to do the things they once loved to do is a painful seat to be in…like the day my dad wanted to take his truck for one last drive.
I wanted so badly for my dad to be able to drive his truck, but I knew it wasn’t safe.
At this point he was on higher doses of pain medication. To break the news that I couldn’t “let him” drive his truck felt unfair.
He fussed some but he also knew I was right.
The sadness in his disposition was painful to witness.
I asked Nathan if he would take my dad for a drive in his truck.
When I told my dad Nathan was going to take him on a drive, he LIT UP.
It wasn’t exactly what he wanted but it was a satisfactory alternative.
Seeing my frail father walk out to his truck with his walker and then helping him in was a happy-sad moment.
I was happy he could still go for a drive and sad he would not be the one driving.
I have many memories of being with my dad in his trucks.
As a little girl I would sit right next to him as we listened to Royals Baseball.
Still today, when I hear a game on the radio, memories wash over me…an achy feeling of missing him will hit my heart and sometimes tears will follow.
For someone who is up close to pain and suffering, sometimes creativity is needed…God knows I asked for wisdom almost everyday as new challenges would surface.
I started grieving my dad’s loss the day the oncologist came into his room and told us “two weeks to six months.”
As I placed my head on my dad’s chest and began weeping, my mind went wild.
I could feel him rubbing my back like he did when I was a little girl when he tucked me in at night.
His words were spoken with a gentle and firm confidence…
“Kandace, you are going to be okay.”
But in that moment, as much as I love the truth, I couldn’t figure out how I would be okay without my dad’s presence on this earth.
To hold onto my dad when he was forced to let go would have been selfish, so by God’s grace I surrendered.
We left the hospital not knowing exactly how long he had.
I wanted to make the time we had meaningful and initially dreamed of taking him to Florida to go fishing.
Though that never happened, he was content to take a trip to Roaring River with his family and just walk around.
It’s a day that will never be forgotten and still evokes tears of deep gratitude.
The mix of sweetness, sorrow and the unknown lasted for 90 days.
The conversation I had with our hospice nurse happened on a day I poured out my deep sorrow to her. The words that came out of her mouth after I shared left me confused.
“I often see people walk away from suffering loved ones.”
It was too much to take in at the moment.
I was fiercely loyal to be with my dad. It was the hardest thing I had ever done, but even still, I didn’t get it.
I don’t want to judge.
I understand now.
There’s always a backstory on WHY people walk away.
There’s multiple reasons why people won’t stay close to pain they can’t fix…
It’s not just the pain of end of life suffering people walk away from…
It’s suffering of all kinds.
The thought of someone dying alone (And it happens more than we know) feels like trauma to my soul. For those who know Jesus and believe He is with them, I can process…but to be utterly alone…I CAN’T EVEN.
What does this mean for you and me who are still alive?
It could mean having the conversation before we face harder stuff.
It might be seeking collective understanding on why people leave when it gets too hard? Can we help in some way?
And when is leaving better than staying in some situations?
How can we BE WITH people and just be with them…letting our presence speak louder than words?
It’s a lot my friends and it’s one reason we are opening up the conversation very soon at Grief Untangled.
It’s never a question of IF, but always when. We are told storms will come…and we can either try and navigate these storms on our own, or we can lock arms and face them together.
Let’s choose together! Compassionately and Purposefully…