it’s been a long winter
It hasn’t been a hard winter, weather-wise. It hasn’t even been cold here in southeastern Virginia for very long. But it’s still been a long winter. It’s unusually warm days like today that make me realize I am desperate for the coming spring season and all of its representation: Hope springs forth.
Recently, three members of my church family along with my own family have all said, “so long for now” to our fathers. It’s this constant reminder of death that forces me to keep the promise of eternal life ever before me.
Honestly, I was wrought with many emotions the week that my dad passed away. I had only learned the previous week of a lung cancer diagnosis. My dad was always full of life and strong… how could he be so sick? I was with him before he left Virginia for his winter stay in Florida. “Did he show any signs of sickness then?” I ask myself.
Dad and I came to the conclusion that we would pray for a miracle and seek treatment from local physicians. He wanted to come home.
Within a few days, his condition worsened. I hung up from a phone conversation with him and went running into the arms of my husband and sobbed. I was scared. I had never heard my father sound so bad before. I sought the Lord for direction, and He spoke the word, “Presence.” The next day, I was on a plane to West Palm Beach, Florida. Perhaps I could help Dad make the flight home the following day.
The plan quickly changed. While I was flying to Florida, Dad was being transported by ambulance to the hospital. I got to him later that night as he was about to be transferred out of Emergency and onto the oncology floor.
We still had hope that he could be strengthened enough to eventually make the trip home to Virginia. In the meantime, I ran his errands, communicated with my siblings in Virginia, and listened to Dad talk about the things I would need to know once he dies. I didn’t like this direction of his thoughts, but I let him speak what was on his heart to share.
3:30 came and I knew that I had a flight to catch. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I tried to say good-bye through my tears. I didn’t want to leave, but there was a pull to get back home to my family. My dad told me it was ok to go, but I could tell he felt it was the last time we would see one another. I actually left the hospital, got into my car, and drove down the street. I could barely see; I was crying so hard. Over the phone, my husband said, “Go back to your father.”
That was one turn-around I will never forget. I was there with my dad a short 16 hours later when Jesus came into the ICU room and ushered Dad home. Those last couple of hours with him were very difficult to see because he was suffering. I prayed over him, sang, quoted scripture and read other passages from the Bible. I cried out to the Lord with every cough and struggle to breathe that my father encountered. I felt so utterly weak and was desperate for the Lord.
Suddenly, Dad’s eyes jolted open, and he look right past me and above my head. His eyes and head moved slowly as he watched the One come alongside of the hospital bed. Dad never lost focus. He reached out his hand and clasped the hand offered to him. The ICU nurse and I celebrated as we watched Dad step over the threshold into life. With his eyes closed, he breathed a few short breaths, and smiled sweetly.
I miss you, Daddy.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.