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Thursday, October 25, 2018

8 Years...

8 years... 
In April, our journey began.  
It started with nosebleeds and not feeling well.
You knew.
I did not.

8 years...
In August, you arrived at my door.
You handed me a package.
"This is not the way I want it, but you will do what needs to be done."
It was a secret you asked me to keep.
You knew.
I did not.

8 years...
The day after the package delivery.
I received a phone call.
"Your dad has collapsed!"
I rushed to your house.
I got you in my car.
I made the quick decision to drive you to the local hospital.
I knew had I driven you to the larger one, they wouldn't send us to the big city.
My decision was the correct one.
Within the hour, you were loaded into the ambulance and we were off.
Your driver was one of your life long friend's son.
He told me "Put your flashers on and stay right behind me!"
I had a 1/4 tank of fuel in my car...
(I never told you that)

We arrived at Mercy.
I parked the car.
I followed you into the Emergency Room.
The nurses and doctors flooded me with questions and paperwork.
I provided all the answers.
I was your primary caregiver.
I still didn't know.

8 years...
That very night, I slept in your Trauma ICU room.
The nurses never questioned your request.
They brought me a bed.
They placed it next to yours.
I even got heated blankets.
I didn't sleep.
You knew.

8 years...
That week, Aunt Lois called.
"Your Uncle Jim is headed down with the motor home."
I spent time in there, but most of my time was in the Trauma ICU next to you.
Aunt Lois knew.
I did not.

8 years...
Almost a week in the Trauma ICU.
You asked for my help.
You told me to go buy a notebook.
(I still have it.)
I was scared and said "I'm not ready! I need more time!"
You assured me "By the Grace of God, you will be ready."
You knew.
I did not.

8 years...
I cried.
Although, I didn't like horses,
"I climbed on the horse and prepared for the ride."
We both knew.
(By the way, I have a horse now.)

8 years...
Over the course of 3 months, you were in and out of Oklahoma Heart Hospital.
I knew your nurses by name.
They even reserved me meals.
I spoke regularly with your team of doctors.
They even called me on the phone.
It would be early morning, middle of the day, and even into the night.
I would walk into the hospital and open your room door.
We would talk.
You would sleep.
I would write your requests, my wishes and prayers, and our plans for the future.
I made promises.
You asked me to keep things to myself.
I knew.

8 years...
I was running 5K's.
I ran from a pain I didn't understand.
I ran for a cause.
I hated Congestive Heart Failure like most people hate Cancer.
I ran for peace.
I ran for comfort.
I ran to breathe.
I ran to clear my mind.
I ran to know.

8 years...
It was a Friday.
After procedures, too many to count, we made the decision for a final surgery.
Your doctors discussed the risk.
You were told "If we move you over to the by-pass, there is a 90% chance we can't bring you back."
You agreed to move forward with the surgery.
I spent the entire night with you.
We finalized the notebook.
I made you one last promise.
"No more than 24 hours"
You asked me not to cry.
I was ready.
I knew.

8 years...
Over the weekend, I had words with the boys.
I attempted to let everyone know.
Your team of surgeons flew in from across the nation.
You and I knew.
They did not.

8 years...
Monday came.
It was surgery day.
You gave me my last physical kiss.
I told you "I LOVE YOU!"
You responded "You're ready! I LOVE YOU!"
We knew.

8 years...
A nurse stepped into the waiting room.
She stood there and said "Things are going well.  The doctors had to put him on the by-pass machine. It will be a few more hours."
I got up.
I walked around the hospital.
I knew.

8 years...
That night, I spent another night by your side.
The nurses provided me with comfort and warm blankets.
They never said a word.
They just did their job, injected meds, hung bags, and watched monitors and pumps.
I stood next to you all night.
I prayed and asked for more time.
I heard God say "You are ready, just hand me the reins."
I stomped my foot!
"Dammit, Daddy! Fight!"
You tried.
The nurse asked me to continue to encourage you. 
You couldn't speak, but your eyes told me.
I knew.

8 years...
It was a Tuesday morning.
I had my package and the notebook in hand.
The time had come, for me, to fulfill my final promise, to you.
I gathered our family.
I explained your wish and my promise.
I had to do this last thing.
I promised.
I knew.

8 years...
The kids and Yo stood beside me.
I knew they couldn't watch.
Yo was tucked behind my left arm.
One by one, the nurse turned off each iv pump.
The doctor talked us through each and every action taken.
I didn't cry.
The Big Kids moved Drewman towards the window.
I grabbed the suction.
My promise was kept.
I cared for you until the very end.
I knew.

8 years later...
I will return to the spot I go to often.
(I will have to take my poncho.  It's raining here.)
I will cry.
It will be brutal.
It will be ugly.
It will be raw.
I will be vulnerable.
I will be at peace.
Jeffrey will be waiting for my return.
He will hug me.
I will breathe.
I know.

8 years later...
The sun will rise.
I will move forward.
I know.

"Grief never ends...
But it changes.
It's a passage,
Not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness,
Nor a lack of Faith...
It is the price of love."

Rancher Girl