Monday, April 27, 2015

Papa's Last Day

*** WARNING: Some readers may find this entry difficult as it deals with death. ***

April 25, 2015

9:30 pm

Dear Papa,

We're having a sleepover tonight. I'm all set up on the chair bed beside you, with my sleeping bag and pillow.

I sang along with the CD for a bit and read to you a little. I watched as the PSW washed your face, wet your mouth, applied cream to your limbs, and vaseline to your lips. I listened as the nurse suctioned phlegm from your mouth, trying to give you a bit more time between choking fits.

I said bedtime prayers with you...

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should for before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take."

11:11 p.m.

I was asking God to take you home Papa, wondering why He just didn't. It took something the PSW said to remind me of our gift of free will. "He [Papa] decides when to go."

April 26, 2015

12:27 a.m.

Your breathing seems to be slowing and becoming more shallow.

I'm here Papa. But I don't want you to stay for me. You've given me a lifetime of being a wonderful grandfather. You taught me the importance of hard work and being proud of each others' accomplishments. The value of giving to enrich the lives of others, and the importance of investing for the future. That music is part of a well rounded education. That a continent apart is not too far away to visit your grandchildren.

12:34 a.m. 

Your breathing is like sips of air through a straw with holes in it.

In the research I did about palliative care and end of life, I don't remember reading about smell. Someone should've written about smell. Your body is breaking down and giving off a distinct odour. It's hard to describe. I was thinking about how God formed the first man from dust and how we recite "dust to dust" at funerals. Is it an earthy smell then? The smell of decay?

1:18 a.m. 

I'm torn Papa. I wonder if I should be talking to you, offering you comfort somehow. But what can I say? And will my voice keep you anchored to this world? Better to err on the side of comfort. I'll read to you from Steve Fry's "I Am: The Unveiling of God."

I held your hand, soft and so very hot. I reminded you that generations of your family follow God because of you. That when you get to heaven you'll see your parents, your sister, your son-in-law Silas, the grandson you never met because he was born in Brazil and died after a day. Your body will be free of pain, your mind whole again. But it's your choice Papa, you have to tell Jesus you're ready to go.

2:02 a.m. 

I was holding your hand and you tightened it. You let out a huge gurgle and stopped breathing. You opened your eyes and looked up to the left corner of the room. I know that's when your spirit left you. The song playing on the CD was "Give Thanks." And now, let the weak say "I am strong!" 

My Papa is free from pain. Thank You Jesus.


After Papa's spirit left, his strong heart took another 10 minutes or so to finish its work. The lungs pushed out air about six more times and it was more than a little unnerving, especially when accompanied by sound. At some point Papa's whole body twitched, which I knew was to be expected.

I touched his hand again, since I had stepped away from the bed when his body was having its final moments. It was still soft and warm. I placed my hand on his chest, over his heart and lungs. Everything still. Peaceful. Thank You God.

I sat with my grandfather's shell for about an hour. Watched his colour go from rosy to waxen. Touched his cooling hands one last time, and left.

No comments:

Post a Comment