What I am thankful for today is something that has been running through my head on a regular basis over the past few days, but I’m especially thankful for it. As I continue to process everything it keeps looping over and over in my head… Dad gave us the gift of extra time to prepare ourselves. I’m not sure if it was God’s plan to work out this way or if Dad did some negotiating for a little extra time, but either way, I’m thankful we had extra time.
When the call came that Dad had a stroke I was nervous but assumed it would be okay. I’ve known many people who’ve had a stroke and while of course it is a big deal, it is something that can be recovered from. Plus, maybe it isn’t really that bad, maybe it was something else, maybe he’s going to be fine in a days. Those were all thoughts running through my head.
After Nick called the second time to let me know Dad was being air lifted to Marshfield I became more nervous. It must be serious for the chopper to get him, but I’m sure he’ll be okay. There was fear, but manageable fear. At this point I had still planned on joking with Dad about how “if you really wanted a helicopter ride that bad…” I was becoming more scared, but I was still optimistic.
When I saw Dad in the hospital for the first time I was scared. He just wasn’t right and he was unconscious. When the neurologist was explaining his situation and mentioned “die” I quickly drifted into another world. This one had stopped spinning and completely thrown me off of it. As I started to come back to reality the neurosurgeon told us that Dad would die if there wasn’t a surgery and possibly wouldn’t survive the surgery I was shaken to the core.
Once surgery was complete I was still petrified, but was optimistic. Over the next handful of days I started to come to grips with the fact that I may never talk with my dad again. On Saturday morning I dealt with knowing that I would never talk with my dad again (at least physically). I shared the news with Becky while at a soccer tournament and then with my boys that night at home. We all dealt with it on Sunday and started to really picture what the world without Dad would be like.
Monday I thought I’d have more time with him. Maybe a miracle would occur and he’d be okay I kept thinking. While that thought resonated I kept realizing he would be gone, but not for a long while. When the nurse let us know he was struggling that afternoon it started to loom over me, the specter of his death. As I stood by him as he faded I kept hoping for a different conclusion, but it kept sinking in. Upon his last breath I still held on to some crazy hop. When his heart stopped I realized he was gone. Over the next few hours I slowly came to grips with life without Dad.
There was a really high probability that Dad would’ve been gone right away on the first Monday (6/5), but he didn’t, he survived. By staying for another week he gave all of us the gift of more time. To be sure, I’m not thinking it was just for me or anything crazy like that. I’m thinking there were many many reasons he hung for a week. Maybe there were things people had to say. Maybe there were things to fixed. Maybe there were things to be learned. Maybe we needed time to prepare.
That’s why I am so thankful for the extra time that Dad gave us (or the Big Guy Upstairs gave us). I have learned so much more about myself, my faith, my family, and my ability to live without my dad. Had Dad been gone right away there were many things that would’ve been missed, unsaid, undiscovered. I also know that I wouldn’t have been able to deal with losing one of the most important people in my entire life in the blink of an eye. While maybe I was strong enough I’m thinking I would have crumbled. By having Dad give us all extra time I was able to better prepare, stay stronger, focus, and learn many lessons from this situation. I still don’t like the outcome, but I’m glad Dad gave us one final gift, some extra time to prepare ourselves. Thanks Dad!!!