"Let me hold your hand one more time, just in case"

Today my Dad celebrates his first Birthday in heaven.  

As much as my heart terribly aches, I wouldn't wish him back for anything.
For months, I have helped our children grieve.  While it was easy to see they were upset, the amount of their loss will never be known.
We have repeatedly shared with the kids that it only hurts so bad because they loved so much... but that hasn't helped heal their broken hearts yet.

Although most of my memories fade quickly, I vividly remember driving to my parents home to check on my Dad last January.  I entered their home and couldn't find my Dad.  I removed the kids from the area and went back inside and searched for my Dad again.  Upon finding him, I knew we had a problem.  After several hours passed and his condition didn't improve, I called Rob at work and told him I needed him to meet me at my parent's home and load Dad into the truck.  I've been questioned numerous times why I didn't call an ambulance.  I didn't because I respected my Dad and his wishes.
It seemed all he had left was his dignity and I wasn't going to take that away from him.

My Mom met us at the hospital and over the next few days things seemed to improve a little.  They diagnosed him with pneumonia in his lung that had recently been transplanted.  A week after his admittance, we knew our only option was to get him back to the hospital at Duke.  Mom and I drove separate vehicles through the night.  We arrived around 4:30 in the morning.  I was in shock at how quickly his condition had changed.

A young doctor came in and told me if we wanted our children to see him one more time, they needed to make the trip as soon as possible.
I briefly explained the complexity of our family's dynamics and that our kids wouldn't be making the 7 hour trip.

Mom hadn't slept in days and had fallen asleep sitting upright in a chair.   I remember praying for bravery as I told my Dad that his team of doctors had decided that he needed to be put on a ventilator, since his oxygen levels continued to decrease.

Things happened fast; doctors and nurses moved quickly.
They rushed him into the ICU room and his team gave us a chance to have a few brief moments together.
A chance for my Dad to say any final words, but the only thing he said continues to ring loudly in my ears.

"Let me hold your hand one more time, just in case."

He didn't tell me he loved me.
He didn't tell me he was proud of me.
I.  Already.  Knew.

Everyday of his life, his actions (and words) let me know I was his favorite little girl.

A couple days later, when we honored his wishes of not keeping him on life support,
I laid in my Dad's bed and watched my Mom love him enough to let him go.
After a short period, his room quickly filled with doctors and nurses once again,
I remember sitting in a chair and audibly telling Jesus how thankful I was that He took my Dad quickly.

Even in death, He remained faithful.

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