Graduation & Death

Life has been a bit raw lately.  It started with a text I received from my mother back on February 25. She typed it from the waiting room at the chiropractor's office; Dad's back was really bugging him. Little did I know what this casually-mentioned visit to the chiropractor's office would turn into. Actually, even before receiving the text, life was already having a sad side to it.  My last child was gearing up to graduate and go his own way.  I was not looking forward to a completely empty nest come July 1.  But, that text from my mother added a new and heavier dimension to it all ...
Noah About To Walk The Stage
June 5, 2015
What began with a really bad backache for my father, turned into a very difficult three month illness. Some vicious bacteria had somehow snuck into his body and began doing its aggressive thing, making him sicker and sicker by the day. One day his death felt imminent, the next there seemed to be hope.  But, day after day, it became obvious ... one little piece of optimism would be followed by a big piece of discouraging news.  After several weeks of sitting on pins and needles, we began to understand that his days on earth were likely numbered.  So, I was losing my father and wrapping up 29 years of motherhood in one fell swoop.

Even though I live several states away and was unable to help, I could still feel the pain in my heart ... for his difficult distress, for my mother's constant and nearly sleepless care for him, for my siblings doing all they could, for the hospice workers, nurses, and aids who did so much.  I was far away, but it didn't take away the pain in my heart.

So, I prayed.  Each day I prayed and asked God for guidance.  Two back-to-back trips across the country in the midst of graduation season was daunting. Very daunting.  Plus, I wanted/needed to finish my job with my last son fully ... with at least half a smile on my face if possible.  I wanted/needed him to go and I wanted/needed to go with him to the countless senior banquet-ish, ceremony-ish things that take place during those weeks prior to graduation.  I felt a need to embrace my last months with my last son as much as possible.

A St. Thérèse Rose
Dad kept getting sicker, Noah kept having more and more to do, and I kept praying. I asked my patroness, St. Thérèse, to help me out during this time ... and endless roses came my way.  Though it was hard, day by day, I did my best.  The roses, great support from my husband, and kind words from kind people gave me some peace.

I had pretty much accepted the most realistic possibility was that I would not see my father alive again. Truly, I was fine with that.  I reminisced our last visit and it was a nice one, and I had always tried my best to be a good daughter.  Waiting for the funeral seemed the best option.  However, a brother called and suggested that maybe Dad was hanging on for so long because he was waiting to see me ... the only child he had not yet seen or spoken to during his illness (except for a brief facetime session and a very short phone call).  That comment put the pressure on.  At this point, Noah's graduation was just days away.  I decided that I would get through graduation and then decide what to do.  
My Little Branch Of The Family In Attendance For Noah's Graduation
Noah Gave The "Turning Of The Ring" Speech

My Three Sons
The Three Brothers Always Wanting One Silly Shot
29 Years Of Parenthood Winding Down
I don't know how it happened, but I had a very nice time at Graduation.  I thought I'd have to force a smile on my face and go through the motions of the night.  The tension in my heart had been mounting for weeks.  But, Graduation night was nice, I was happy and able to truly enjoy the evening.   I am convinced it was the Holy Spirit and St. Thérèse.

Out To Dinner After Graduation
Noah With His Two Sweet Sisters-In-Law
The morning after Graduation, I checked all my messages ... no news.  So, with the thoughts of Dad possibly hanging in there waiting to see me, I decided to go ahead and go before the funeral instead of for the funeral.  It took Chad three hours to make the flight/hotel/rental car arrangements for a quick trip (there's always a hic-cup or two with travel arrangements, it seems!).  I then felt a peace (unusual for me when it comes to travel!).  It all felt OK.

Then, the phone call came.  Dad had just passed - shortly after Chad made the arrangements.  But, I knew in my heart that we should still go with the plans just made.  So, I didn't get to see my father one last time in person and we could not return for the funeral the next week, so I missed that too.

But, Chad, Noah, and I got a private viewing of my father before he was cremated.  It was quiet and special.  I'm not the fanfare type at all ... nor was my father.  We have both liked simplicity, calm, and peace.  I liked this quasi-alone time with my father's remains.  It all felt right and gave me a quiet and comfortable closure, lacking the hectic-ness that sometimes comes with funerals.  And I got some alone time with my mother so soon after his death; I appreciated that too.

I have felt my father.  In my mind's eye he is happy and smiling.  All is good, all is right.  He was 81, had looked frail to me for some years, and I believe it was his time.  I believe God called him to his true Home.

The Last Time I Saw My Father Alive
March, 2014

The Last Time Noah Saw His
Grandpa Alive
Earth seemed a place of exile, and I dreamed of Heaven.
~ St.