Journaling Reads:It was January 17, 2011. Because it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I had the day off work as a company holiday. I had thought about going to visit my parents that morning, but my dad had advanced to such a poor state in his brain cancer disease and him being under hospice care made it emotionally difficult for me to be there. I had visited Sunday evening for dinner, and I justified staying home on Monday because there was laundry to do and personal paperwork to catch up on. Plus, maybe I would go visit in the afternoon. And then, shortly after 12:00, the phone rang. It was my mom. She told me that the hospice nurse had just left and that she had said Dad probably only had two hours to two days left to live. Obviously, I needed to come over as soon as I could. I knew that once I got there, I wouldn’t be leaving until after he passed away, so I packed an overnight bag. I took one of the fastest showers of my life. I sent an email to work letting them know I’d be out of the office, but I didn’t know for how long. I sent the nanny home and loaded baby Ashton into the car. I began calling the kids’ schools to pick each of them up early. I had to go to three different schools to retrieve Jordyn, Liam, and Owen before I could begin the longest twenty-five minute drive from Oxford to Waterford. On my way, I called Kevin, who was three hours away in Indiana on a business trip. He told me he would meet me at my parents’ house by dinner time. I got to my parents’ house around 3:00 pm. My brother-in-law and I can’t even remember who else were standing outside in the front yard…in January…in Michigan. And I instantly knew that I was too late. I was too late to say one last goodbye. One last I love you. I jumped out of the car and told him to get the baby and I ran inside, straight to my dad’s bedside. And he was gone. All of the stress of the last 5 months, and the most intense past three hours, brought me to my knees. I had missed it by about fifteen minutes. Why wasn’t I there? The laundry could have waited. The paperwork would have still been there. But, the hours we had left with my dad were limited. I should have spent my day off with him. My mom, who rarely left my dad’s side during his illness, herself had missed his final breath. She had gone into the kitchen. She told me it was OK that I wasn’t there at the very end because I had been there so many other times, and my presence or absence was not a measure of my love for him. My sister was at his side when he passed away. As he took his final breaths, in the last few minutes of his life, she sang to him, as she often did, Come to Jesus.
“And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace,
and laugh on glory’s side
...and Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!”
These beautiful flowers were on my dad’s bedside table. My mom had been growing them for the last couple of months, and they bloomed for the first time. I imagined my dad’s spirit inhabiting these blooms as I recalled how he used to sing Edelweiss to us as a lullaby when we were little. Bloom and Grow.
Bloom and Grow Forever
Some observations about the process and products:
- Stampin' Up papers, some punched shapes, some twine, and a little bling. Done.
- The journaling took me the longest to do. Everything else came together pretty quickly.
- My music of choice, of course, was Alan Jackson's Precious Memories. Love those hymns.
- Enough sad pages about my dad. My next page about my dad will be happy and upbeat.
- I want to meet the Long Island Medium so she can channel my dad. I want her to tell me that my dad knows about all of these scrapbook pages that I'm making and he's thankful that I'm honoring him this way. I want her to tell me that his soul is still here with me. Well, that part, I already know.