Thursday, October 12, 2017

The gift of time

We are a Tribe of 10.

And within our tribe there are many different roles represented.
& Nephew.

But right now, in these fleeting moments, the roles we are most focused on are:
       Kelli & Jennifer's dad
       Steve's father-in-law
       Jess, Jeff, Campbell, Michael, Jacob, and Corrie's Pa

We are focused on those three because we know that in a very short time, those are the roles that our tribe will lose. 

Cancer is a horrible, debilitating disease and no one knows that better than our tribe. We have walked this path too many times before, but what we have learned over this last year is that those other journeys have given us the strength and courage we need to walk it just one more time. 

We are at the end.
We know that. 
It might be today or it might be tomorrow.
Knowing how fast dad is declining, I just don't anticipate it will go beyond that. 

But as each moment passes, the words of one of our Hospice nurses keeps reverberating in my mind....
He told us:
Even in this horrible situation, you have been given a gift of experiencing the best possible way for your dad to leave this world. Your sister and her family were able to get here last week prior to his drastic decline. All nine of you have had opportunities where each of you got to sit by his bedside and enjoy just being with him. And through it all, he has been lucid enough to know you were there so that he could find peace as he prepares to leave you all. 

And he's right.

~I am so thankful that I have a job that has allowed me the time to be here and physically care for him every day for the last 2 weeks. 

~I am so thankful that my sister and her husband own a business that has allowed them to be here without worrying about when they have to get back to Colorado.

~I am so thankful that my children and J's children have had so many opportunities to just go into dad's room and hang out with him on the bed...watching football, holding his hand, or just being....

~I am so thankful for a support network that is wider than I ever realized. It has consisted of incredible dinners that I did not have to worry about cooking, phone calls from people in our past who know and love our dad and just want to tell us about how much he has meant to them, and offers to do everything from picking up my kid from school to covering my responsibilities at the office. I am just in awe of the love that has already been poured out over us.

But today, right now, as I am surrounded by the constant hum of the oxygen machine that is providing my dad just a little bit of comfort in these last moments, I am most thankful for TIME. When we moved my dad to College Station last September, it was not just me who received the gift of time with him; my kids-- Jess, Jacob, Jeff, and Corrie-- have all been given the precious gift of time with him during these last 13 months.
Jess and Corrie consistently came once a week with a milkshake or a sundae just to try and get some calories in him and hang out for a little while. 

We all gathered together around my table for a family dinner at least once a week...even when he was not able to eat much.

We had birthdays and basketball games and trips and holidays and more moments than I ever dreamed we'd get to experience this last year.

And Jacob got to have a grandpa all to himself a couple times each week as my dad picked him up from school and brought him home. The two of them may not have talked a lot during that drive from Bryan High School home to College Station when it was just the two of them in the truck, but they were together. Dad got to know his newest grandkid a little better, and Jacob got to see what it looks like to be around a man of honor, integrity, and unconditional love. 

So as our last moments with our dad & our Pa are upon us, please don't feel sorry for us. We truly are the luckiest tribe around because the gift of time has allowed us to prepare our dad to leave us and get ready to reunite with our mom. 


Lady Fi said...

You made me cry. Time is indeed a gift, even when our parents are dying.


Sherri Williams said...

Beautiful, Kelli. Sending you love, HUGS and prayers. ❤❤

Jenniffer said...

You are in my thoughts sweet friend!

Unknown said...

My prayers are with you and your family. I pray God gives you all strength. ❤❤