Wednesday, July 15, 2020
For months we hadn’t been able to visit face to face. He was so lonely. His heart was breaking. Little did I know how literally it was.
On Saturday he had a heart attack. His heart was damaged and he struggled even to eat without pain. But he was in the hospital, where I was allowed to be his primary visitor and spend all the time I wanted with him. What an incredible gift. Little did I know how much I would appreciate those three days.
When I was with him, we talked about his health. We talked about managing his future. We talked a lot about how the world’s events were fulfilling the plan of God for Christ’s return. We talked about heaven and the joy there will be when we see Jesus face to face. Little did I know how soon that would happen.
When he was stable enough, the doctors decided to release him back to his apartment under hospice care. We finished the exit interviews concerning medications and his probable activity level, and then we got him dressed. I was going to miss our daily personal visits, but I knew it was best for him to go home. Little did I know he was really going home.
He rode through the hospital in the wheelchair to the entrance where I had his car – literally his old car, which I now drive – waiting to pick him up. He moved easily from the wheelchair to the front seat, and we began our journey to his assisted living apartment. Little did I know that his body would arrive there but he never would.
Our discussion on the trip covered items like lunch and what time the hospice nurse would arrive to finish all the paperwork. I asked him if the effort of getting dressed and the transfer from the hospital to the car had caused him any pain, and he said no. I can’t remember exactly what he was saying next, ( I wish I could) but in the middle of a sentence, while I was driving down the street, his arms lifted, stiffened, and started to shake. His last two earthly words garbled. I reached over and grabbed his shoulder and shook him and yelled, “Dad! DAD! Are you okay?”
There was no response. His head bowed. He sighed deeply. Then silence. I continued to drive, thinking quickly through all the options of where to go. I was clearly led by God’s Spirit to proceed to his residence. I felt for a pulse on his neck. Nothing. Then came the gurgled attempt at a breath. I yelled again, trying to wake him up. His head bowed further. I continued to drive as I reached for his wrist. No pulse. Then came one more long gurgling attempt to breath, and then silence.
As I drove, I cupped his head in my hand to both comfort him and keep him from tipping over in the seat. When I turned the corner to his apartment building, I saw a magnificent sight. There was an Eau Claire Rescue Squad ambulance in the driveway. I verbally shouted, “God, you arranged this.” As I pulled up and exited the car, the paramedics were coming out with a non-urgent patient on a stretcher. I announced that my father had died while I was driving. They immediately came to my aid and began to evaluate my father’s condition. He had not taken a breath for over four minutes. Their monitor indicated he still had a slight heart rhythm that was shockable. They saw the DNR (do not resuscitate) bracelet. They confirmed that with me. They stepped away, and dad moved into his eternal residence.
As I continue to reflect on the event, I am in awe of God’s timing and His attention to detail. Everything was planned to perfection. I am more aware today than ever that God directs every step of every day for those who love Him. I saw that promise perfectly fulfilled in countless ways as I witnessed my dad enter the glory of Christ’s presence.
I will miss my dad. He is not missing me. That’s hard to say, but I would never want him to give up what he now has just so I could see him again. I will see him again. It is so majestic and grand there that he would never ever consider looking away, especially not looking back.
There’s my lesson for life in this. Never look back. Never look away. The glory of the presence of Jesus is all we ever need to see.