My dad had a heart attack in June. I got the phone call that no one wants to receive from my oldest brother in the early hours of the morning. I packed a bag and made the drive to Indiana. Ten months after my mom's sudden death, I found myself in another hospital room. Listening to the sounds of monitors, watching the blinking of lights on machines that were delivering medications, and did my best to take in what was really happening.
Later that afternoon, I met with my dad's cardiologist. He shared the ultrasound images of my dad's heart. It was not good news. I listened as he gently explained that the damage was severe, that blockages had gone undetected, and then he stopped. He collected his thoughts and then went on to tell me that my dad's case was very different than any he had seen before. My dad's heart was severely enlarged - not a normal symptom related to the heart blockages. The doctor asked if my dad had experienced any traumatic emotional event in the past few months. I felt my throat tighten and my eyes began to burn...I could feel the tears coming. I explained that my mom had died earlier that year. He told me that my dad was probably suffering from Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy or "broken heart syndrome" in addition to the other cardiac issues. He smiled and said, "Your dad must have really loved your mom." He mapped out what the next few days would look like...tests to be run, meds to be administered, and questions to be answered. It was all just the beginning of a long journey.
After a week long hospital stay, my dad was released. The docs told us that he was gravely ill and would most likely not survive a month. The next few months would bring a decreased appetite and dramatic weight-loss, the placement of a permanent pacemaker/defibrillator, changes in his diet, and incredible fatigue. The lack of energy seemed to bother him most. We determined to take advantage of the time we had with him. He shared time between his home in Indiana and our house here in Kentucky. Making lots of memories with his grand kids, having really rich conversations about the past and the future, and just loving one another. What a tremendous gift God had given us.
Nearly five months later, we find ourselves at another crossroads. The hospice nurse tells us that he will most likely meet Jesus in just a matter of days now. I find myself so thankful that his suffering will end and the joy will begin...but, my heart is also filled with sadness. I will miss him.
Although I am overwhelmed, I know that God is with me. He loves me. He is able to bear my burden. He will carry me.
"The Lord your God goes with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you."