It’s hard to say goodbye to anyone we care about, but it’s even more difficult when it’s a family member; especially when death is the one at the door, ready to remove them from your life. You wish you had said more and done more. You think about the time you could have spent with them but didn’t. Now all you can do is cry, and pray, and hope they can hear you when you tell them you love them one last time before they slip away.
That’s all we could do as we stood there in the hospital, waiting for my dad to die. He had accepted it, and so had we. What else could we do? We had been praying. For months, we had been asking God to heal him and get him back on his feet. He had improved several times, but it never lasted long.
Things had gotten so bad that he just wanted to die. He was so sick and weak. He was tired of hurting. His heart rate had dropped, his blood pressure was really low, and his potassium level was almost non-existent. He was vomiting up bile and stomach acid. His kidneys were not working, and he had diarrhea. He was passing blood through his stool and had a high fever. The doctors did all they could, but they told us they did not expect him to make it this time.
I thought about how strong he had always been, or maybe he was just plain stubborn. I don’t know. For years, he never went to the doctor. I never remember him having any major health problems. He had back surgery when he was nineteen. He had a pretty bad case of ulcers about twenty-five years ago. After that, he started going to the doctor regularly. A few years ago he had surgery to repair a hernia. He found out he had a touch of diabetes, and his blood pressure was a little high, so he took some pills for that and had to watch what he ate. Overall, though, he seemed to be doing okay for his age.
Then, that all changed. In Autumn of 2015, he started passing fresh blood through his stool. He went to the doctor and discovered he had a tumor inside his colon. It was cancer. He had it removed, along with part of his colon. Not long after that, he got really sick and had to go back to the hospital. This time it was his gallbladder. They opened him up to remove it, but it was so inflamed and swollen that they couldn’t get it out immediately. It was actually stuck to his liver and intestines. The doctor said it was a big mess in there. It was the worst case he had ever seen. They closed him back up and put in some tubes to drain all the infection out before it could be removed, and they sent him home. He went back every few weeks for the doctor to check and see if it had improved enough to operate.
Then he started seeing and hearing things that weren’t there so he went back to the hospital. This time, the doctors said he had the symptoms of early dementia. He was agitated and upset, so they started giving him something to calm him down. It only made him worse. He was seeing things and dreaming terrible dreams, and he believed it was all real. He was so afraid he actually called 911 from the hospital. He was constantly trying to escape because he thought someone was trying to kill him, and eventually he believed that they actually had. It was so sad. It broke my heart to see him in that condition and knowing there was nothing I could do about it. He was too weak to stand and walk by himself, but that didn’t stop him. He crawled out of bed, and fell to the floor, and damaged his knee and ankle.
His potassium kept dropping to dangerous levels so that was a factor in opening him back up as well. They finally got it to stay up long enough to get his gallbladder out, and soon he was back in his right mind. The infection from the gal bladder had poisoned his system and made him delusional. Then the medicine they gave him to calm him down had only added to that. I was so happy to be able to have a normal conversation with him again.
We had to put him in rehab to try and get him walking again before he could go home. He was still so weak he was unable to do much for his rehabilitation. His potassium levels were still crazy and then several other problems developed and he just went downhill from there.
Now he was lying there dying, and there was nothing we could do to change that fact. We kept praying and asking God to make him well. The next day his vital signs all stabilized, and he was awake and talking. God had answered our prayers once again. We were all so thankful. They moved him to a room, and in about a week he was able to go back to rehab. He was still not strong enough to do the exercises, and he was still sleeping a lot. He was still very weak and he was not improving. He got dehydrated again so the doctor sent him back to the hospital, and this time the ER doctor discovered that his Magnesium was low. He said the Magnesium works with the potassium, and low levels of either one affect the heart and blood pressure.
More tests revealed what his stomach problem was. He had a pretty bad ulcer, so the doctor prescribed some medication for that. After getting the Magnesium and Potassium levels back up, he was more alert, wide awake, and laughing and joking again. He could raise himself up and sit on the side of the bed so they released him.
He didn’t want to go back to the nursing home for rehab, and we didn’t want him back there either. He wanted to go home. So, my mother and my sisters and I took turns staying with him until he could get well, but he never did. He only continued to get worse. He was in and out of the hospital for several weeks, then he was put on Hospice and we had to prepare ourselves all over again for him to die. It was so hard seeing him suffer all those months, but it was even harder to say our final goodbyes when we buried him.
We had hope and we believed God was going to heal him. I guess that’s why it was so hard to accept his death. He was supposed to get better. We were waiting for that miracle, but it never came.
The true miracle had come several months before he got sick. He accepted Jesus as his Savior and was born again. We saw a big change in him. He had been a cruel man. He had a filthy mouth and wasn’t considerate to anyone. He said whatever came into his mind, and it was usually vulgar. He was hateful and vindictive, mean-spirited, and sometimes hard to be around.
We were all amazed at the transformation God took him through in those months. He even started singing and recording gospel songs. He wasn’t perfect yet, but we knew that God was defiantly working on him. That was the miracle. For him to change like that after all those years had to be the work of the Creator.
Today marks one year since he died and I still miss him so much. The new him, that is, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again after Jesus returns. The greatest gifts anyone can give to their family when they die is the peace in knowing that they were saved and ready to go. It was sad to see our dad suffer and die, but, it would have been so much worse if we did not have that assurance. Think about it for a minute. If you were to die today, could your family have that assurance, and even more important, do you have it? If not, it’s time to do something about it. We’re not promised tomorrow. Jesus wants to save you. He wants to give you peace. Will you let him?
If you need more information on how to be saved read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” You can have that assurance today, and leave your loved ones with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you were saved when you died, and you can have the assurance of eternal life with Jesus, who suffered and died for you. Don’t put it off. Do it today.
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