Scared and unwilling to let her father go, she found strength through four angelic beings at his bedside.
Posted in , Apr 26, 2020
I drove to the hospital, knowing that today might be the last day I’d spend with my father on this earth. He was my rock, my strength, even while he grew weaker. How could I tell him goodbye?
We knew that dad’s gall bladder surgery was risky at the age of 85, especially after a previous heart surgery. He survived the operation, but complications followed, and his organs started to fail. He’d spent the last three weeks on and off a ventilator. Dad would breathe on his own for a while, then he’d need to be intubated again. It was horrible for him and for us. But no more. My brother, Rick, and I decided that today we would honor Dad’s wishes and remove life support so he could ﬁnally be at peace.
There was no doubt in my mind that Dad was continuing to ﬁght for his life for the sake of our family. He was always there when other people needed him. His coworkers at the post ofﬁce each had a story about the time they’d gone to him with a problem. Neighbors and friends didn’t hesitate to call on him. My son had grown up with an attentive grandfather. It was Dad who’d gotten me through a harrowing surgery for scoliosis. I was 12 and so afraid, but he always found a way to make me laugh. Even the plants in Dad’s garden ﬂourished under his loving care.
For the past few years he’d taken care of my mother, who had dementia. All day every day—even during the night—if Mom needed his help with something, wanted someone to talk to or even just wanted him to sit beside her for comfort, Dad put her ﬁrst.
That’s what he’s doing now, I thought as I pulled up to the hospital. Staying with us because we need him. As much as I hated to face life without him, it would be selﬁsh to keep him here for me.
I walked to Dad’s room. He was sedated and didn’t react when I came to his side. But I knew he could hear me somehow. “Dad, I want to tell you how much I love you. Rick and I have been blessed to have you as a father all this time. Don’t worry about us. We can take care of Mom. We’ll be okay.”
I said the words I’d practiced, but in that moment I wanted to take them back. I thought I was ready to let Dad go, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t going to be okay. I might as well have been that scared 12-year-old girl again. Dad could never let go if he knew how I really felt.
Rick arrived at the hospital with our mother. We were joined by a cousin and a few close friends who had come to support us.
“We don’t know how long he’ll be with us after we remove life support,” the nurse explained. “He’ll go in his own time.”
We gathered around the bed. “Goodbye, Dad,” Rick said, squeezing his hand.
Hearing the words, my terror doubled. God, I know I have to let Dad go, but I don’t think I can do it. I’m not strong enough!
Mom leaned down and whispered goodbye. As she did, a veil was lifted. I could see others with us in the room. At each corner of my father’s bed were four stately beings. Angels. Protectors. One at the head, one at the foot and one on either side. They shone brightly, blurring my vision. They were so strong and brave, like knights in shining armor. They radiated strength and gave it to me.
I can let him go, God, I thought. Dad doesn’t need to suffer for my sake. Take him home, Lord. Take him home to you.
The angels disappeared. “Go to the family waiting for you in heaven,” I said, to my father, who I loved so much. “We’ll be okay here. I’ll be okay because I know I’ll see you again.” I took a deep breath and said the word I’d dreaded, “Goodbye.”
The nurse turned off the machines. Dad died not long after that. The angels’ gift stayed with me throughout the next few months as we adjusted to life without Dad. Not only didn’t I crumble, but I was able to give support to other people, just as Dad would have done. My family didn’t know where I got the strength—but I did.
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