It's a strange juxtaposition to watch the lush unfurling of spring as we accompany dad in his gradual decline. Life outside is burgeoning as his life wanes. These days have been so beautiful - warm, and sunny, with highs in the 80s - and yet quite bittersweet. We are grateful, but sad. It has been especially poignant to follow the rhythms of the liturgical season; the readings and prayers during the time between Easter and Pentecost are full of jubilation at Christ's resurrection, the promise of his presence with us, the hope that eternal life with him awaits us.
Tomorrow is the day when the Church remembers Christ's ascension to heaven, 40 days after the resurrection. Jesus said that he was leaving to go and prepare a place for us, and that he wouldn't leave us alone but would send the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and advocate. How we need that assurance during this difficult time.
In the past week or so, dad has been sleeping a lot (20+) hours a day and doesn't have energy to do much more than the minimum that his basic needs demand. On Monday, hospice sent a hospital bed that we set up in the living room, where dad is now spending most of his time. He has intermittent periods of wakefulness, but isn't able to sustain much conversation. He eats, but not a lot. Nick and I sometimes read to him. In the morning we've continued to pray together as a family. All of dad's siblings and his mother have been here to visit within the past week or two, and those have been especially sweet times, even when he has been less lucid. We've had lots of help and company when we've needed it, and plenty of quiet downtime with just the five of us too.
As you can imagine, it is difficult to write this post. After all these years and so many bends in the road in my dad's journey with cancer, we are finally approaching the end. For as much as we are all at peace, having said all we can say and done all we can do, it still feels surreal to think that his death is so imminent. Our task now is to be present, to simply be with him, together, as he prepares to embark on his journey home. As his earthly body quietly shuts down, we rest in hope that he will be raised again in a heavenly body. And we trust that he is not "leaving" us, but rather going before us to that place Jesus promised to prepare.
"I know that my Redeemer lives and on the last day I shall rise again. In my body I shall look on God, my Savior. I myself shall see him; my own eyes will gaze upon him." (Job 19:25-27)