We had ham and beans for supper that Saturday night. That’s the only detail I can remember right now from this weekend a year ago. I guess if I had known it was the last times I’d spend with my dad outside of the hospital, I would have done a better job of burning them into my memory. Isn’t it strange the things we remember? I can remember what shirt I was wearing when he died a month later, but I can’t remember what we talked about that weekend.
I wonder, if I had known how things were going to turn out, what I would have done differently. I suspect there would have been so much pressure to have a perfect weekend that it actually would not have been better. This suspicion arises from the time at the hospital, when I did think it might be my last days, hours, or minutes with him, when I couldn’t come up with a darn thing that seemed right to do or say. At least, nothing felt like enough for the possible significance of each moment.
I hear stories of others whose loved ones were so accepting, even joyful, as they faced the end, desiring to be surrounded by God’s word, pouring into others even as they were nearing death. They had these great conversations, seemed to know just what to say, and had such meaningful moments. I’m ashamed that I usually feel envy rather than rejoice for them. With my dad, the outcome was so uncertain. Every day was full of contradictions from doctors, unanswerable questions, and physical pain that made it hard for him to do anything but lay there and fight it. For me, all I could do was pray, sit by his bed to be near if he needed anything, and tell him I love him. I know most people will say that is the best anyone can do, but at times it just doesn’t seem like enough.
There are a lot of things I can learn from all this. Among the lessons: Make the most of each moment with my loved ones. Accept the past and move on. Let go of regrets. Be grateful for the opportunity to be with my father in his last days. Be thankful that our last words were I love you. Rejoice that his suffering is done and He is alive with Christ in heaven today.
I know all these things. I do. I thank the Lord for all of them. I feel I have made progress with most of these during the past year. As the calendar rolls by, and we enter into the anniversary of those long days in the hospital, the part I struggle with is:
Remember the good times. Don’t dwell on the bad.
I am praying for a mind filled with 30 years of Dad memories, rather than 30 days of hospital memories.
I guess I’ll start with the ham and beans.