Update on My Dad: Little Things Edition (or My Heart Friggin’ Hurts)

~The final lines of “The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis~

Cancer is killing my Daddy.

He is getting a little closer to death’s door as each hour passes. So are we all, though. Everyday, we really are one day closer to dying than we were the day before, and we do not know what day death will meet us. It could very well be Today.

This is why the Little Things matter so much.

In these, his last weeks, he is unsteady on his feet. Unbalanced, he reaches from one support to another when he walks around. “Don’t leave me, Sunshine,” he implored me last Sunday, as he walked slowly out of church. He feels uneasy if there isn’t someone or something near that he can hang onto.

His hearing is strange, amplifying background noise, and making everyone sound like Alvin & the Chipmunks. He did figure out that, if he plugs his ears and concentrates on the person speaking, it cuts out the background noise, and he can distinguish words better. So, we bought him some ear plugs, which really seem to help when there are six or more children running around. There are some puffy, new lumps on the back of his head that we’ll be asking the hospice nurse about tomorrow. His nausea is coming back, though his appetite is still pretty good, thanks to steroids.

He is sleeping a little more, napping at random moments throughout the day. He is less inclined to have visitors, other than family and his very dearest friends, but still enjoys getting encouraging letters, emails, phone calls, and texts, even if he can’t reply right away.

My dad is making the most of the little things, not content to just sit and wait for death.

He has made it a point to get outside a little, when he can, especially with the kids. He has managed to take each of them on the short walk to the mailbox at least once. He has laid in the floor, and let Tischel crawl on his back and tickle him. He never refuses a hug from small arms, and tries hard to make sense of their voices, which sound too high and small for him to hear well.

He’s always open to someone crawling up next to him on his bed, or the couch. He reads stories to the kids backwards and nonsensically, just like he did for my sisters and me when we were younger. “Papa!” they groan as he acts innocent and just keeps reading the sentences backwards. He makes up words, sings silly songs to them when they get grouchy, and gets quiet and stern when they don’t listen. They, in turn, are gentle and loving toward him.

Every night, Dain still prays, “Bless that Papa doesn’t die,” and all the others beseech God, “Please help Gramma not to be lonely when Papa dies.” My heart breaks every night, hearing those sweet requests to a loving Father from faithful, small hearts.

Dad’s patience is infinite these days. I sometimes apologize for the noise level when it gets a little crazy, and Dad just smiles, and says, “It’s okay. It’s good to hear them happy.” Mom says he just loves the atmosphere of Family. It feels more like home to him.

He has gone to breakfast with Mom, and used a shopping cart for some stability as he braved Wal-Mart with her. The other day, he loaded the dishwasher for my mom, wobbly though he is. She and I had to do some rearranging, but our heartstrings were tugged at the romance of it. He still loves to cuddle up to his wife and just sit with her quietly. She teases him about hogging all the covers at night, and lovingly threatens to kick him out of the bed. He replies that he’ll just tell his hospice nurse she’s abusing him.

I know that, to some, that kind of joking is just weird, and doesn’t sound all that funny. Laughter and love here are synonymous, though. If you could see the sparks fly between the faces of Mom & Dad, and the dancing twinkle in their eyes when they tease one another, you would understand. There is no greater love than what my parents have for one another, because it is the love that would lay down its life for a friend. I know that Mom would trade places with Dad, if she could. My heart aches with bitter joy when I watch them.

That is the love I grew up living with. I am so infinitely blessed!

Photograph by my own Little Red, Audrey.

Today is Lydia’s eighth birthday, and all she asked for this year was for everyone to come have tea with her – no presents or anything. Papa likely won’t be able to make even the short trip down to Myrtle Creek for her tea party at The Painted Lady, so we had her birthday pancakes at Papa & Gramma’s, so he could be a part of it. We will be having her birthday dinner here tonight, as well.

When Dad found out it was Lydia’s birthday today, he cried a little, because he’d forgotten. My heart nearly broke, as I reassured him that all was well, that Lydia was truly happy to just be here on her birthday.

It hurts a little more each day, as I see Dad declining in health. The man who has always been there, always strong, is now weak. At least, in body. In spirit and mind, he is as much himself as ever. More quiet and introspective, he reads more, and talks a lot about faith and the hope of Heaven. He still teaches, still guides, still studies God’s Word diligently, and still leads his family by example.

What are we going to do without him?

Keep living and following his example, I’m sure, but my mind cannot grasp earthly life without my Daddy. I just can’t picture it. At all.

It doesn’t make sense.

I don’t know that I need it to make sense, though.

I trust God, who orchestrates even a sparrow’s small death, and is sovereign over all and in all. I trust the God who wept at the tomb of Lazarus, though he had come there for the express purpose of raising him bodily back to life. I trust the God who understands me, because he walked in human form for about 30-ish years, and knows what it’s like to live on this earth.

I just need to know that I will, indeed, be able to walk through this Valley and come out again into a place of Light and Joy again. I mean, I “know” that I will. I just need to know. You know?

Anyway – I’m thanking God for the little things again. I am so grateful to be here, and part of this. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. The only thing that would make this complete is to have my husband to crawl into bed with at night. There is no one with whom I can share my heart as freely as Levi. Not on this earth, anyway. There just isn’t. No girlfriend, sister, or anyone else is his equal. I love none better, except my Lord and King, Jesus Christ.

And I miss him.

So much.

My heart friggin’ hurts, and there is nowhere to go to get away from the pain of it. It just is what it is, and I will keep walking. Moment by moment, from one little thing to another, until my own End, which will really be just the beginning.

Grace & Peace,

Image from visionsofwhimsy.files.wordpress.com


18 thoughts on “Update on My Dad: Little Things Edition (or My Heart Friggin’ Hurts)

  1. Reading this made me cry.The strength,devotion,love and togetherness you all have is beautiful.The ways in which you are dealing with your fathers illness is remarkable.I hope when my time comes it is with the grace and dignity you all possess.You are inspiring in many ways.

    • To God goes all the glory for any strength, grace, or dignity we possess as a family. It is all His work in us and through us. His comfort, his strength, his love, that holds us up. I am grateful God is using us to minister to and inspire others. Thank you for your kind words!

  2. So beautiful! Thank you for blessing us with an update! I hurt for you. I is one of the greatest hurts to see your strong father become weak and lose his battle with an illness. But God is faithful to bring you through it! I love you Tiff!

  3. Tiffy, I am so sorry. There is nothing else to say. There is no way around the pain. When you are blessed with a loving earthly father the loss is huge, but I am always so thankful for my loving heavenly father to bring comfort. Not remove the pain, but comfort us to be able to endure. Hugs to you, your sisters, and your parents. Love you all.

    • Comfort, indeed, is the key word. I know that there will come a time for me to “comfort others with the same comfort I have received,” and that is worth everything.

  4. Tiffanny, you are a strong lady. Your stronger than you think. The amazing strength God has given you is blessing so many. You are a beautiful daughter to God and your parents. Being near your father is exactly where you need to be. Being apart from your husband is only for a season. I”m sure he supports you right now. I feel your pain and I am praying for you.

  5. You sharing this painful journey is helping so many who can’t grieve in the same situation or find words to express. Tiffany, I can find no words myself but that I mourn with you through this and pray for you, your father, your family. Your father is such a beautiful father, and you, a most devoted daughter to be there with him. I know it means the world to him. Love you, Tiffany

    • Thank you, Lisa. It makes my heart swell with gratitude that you feel so deeply for me. You are a dear sister in Christ, and I thank you for your comforting words and encouragement.

  6. What a legacy of love your parents are giving you. I honestly cried as I read this, it’s so beautiful.
    I have a coffee mug that a friend gave me in college. The words on the mug say “When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me'” – Erma Bomback.
    It truly sounds like this is what your father is doing. And isn’t it the desire of all our hearts to live every last second of this life teaching and loving on the people that mean the most to us!

  7. Bless your family and you travel this difficult journey. Your dad is demonstrating his strength and personality by his readings to your children. How precious that he reads books backwards. I bet he gets the children telling him “Papa go to the beginning and not the back”. Sounds like he is using humor until his last breath and that is comforting to all those around. God Bless your family.

    • It really is. It’s too funny. He starts at the beginning, just reads all the sentences backwards – with great feeling! It’s hilarious!

      Thank you for encouraging me today!

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