The next morning husband and I awoke to find mama already gone back to the hospital. We followed a little while later. It was now Thursday, November 4. Daddy had gone into a coma overnight. He would rest for a while, then become agitated. At some point during the day a nice lady with a small harp came through the ICU, asking to play for each patient. She played for a little while and daddy seemed to relax a little. But after about 45 minutes he became restless and we asked her to leave. I don’t remember much else about that day, other than watching daddy, looking out the hospital window, and talking with the people who came to visit. My husband left the hospital for a while. He’d just gone through this with his mother the past May, and his father in June. In the evening, around 8:00 I think, we were all in the family waiting room taking a break when daddy’s doctor came and asked to see mama. She went with him and was gone maybe 10 minutes. When she came back into the waiting room, she fell onto the floor, in tears. They had taken a CT scan earlier and it showed massive bleeding into the brain. The doctor gave her 30 minutes to decide if she wanted to transfer daddy to another hospital for aggressive surgery, or let it be. Since daddy already had an implant defibrillator she didn’t see putting him through anything else. Husband and I agreed. She relayed our decision back to the doctor, and we went back to his bed.
Mama and daddy’s best friends from their church were there, and we spent about an hour talking with them, talking to daddy, reading from Psalms. And they started discussing plans for his memorial service. It was surreal, but not frightening. At one point daddy’s friend J. mentioned a gospel quartet piece that daddy had really liked. J. couldn’t remember the name of it, but he started singing it. Amazingly enough, it was something that I sang w/ our praise team at our church. I couldn’t believe it! We decided right then to ask the choir to sing this at the memorial service, and I asked to sing with them. The name of it is “He Never Failed Me Yet”.
On Friday, my husband came home to pick up the kids and bring them to Virginia to wait w/ us. I had a CD that I’d put in my mom’s car when I drove it home the night before. She never left the hospital after that first night, except to go for food, I think. Anyway, the CD is called “Revival in Belfast”, and it’s very popular in contemporary Christian music. She went out for lunch or something and my CD was playing in her car. She’d never heard it before, and I think the first thing she heard was “Days of Elijah”, a very uplifting song. There’s another, “When It’s All Been Said and Done”, that speaks directly to how we should live as Christians. She brought the CD into daddy’s room and we listened to it a lot over the next couple of days.
Through Friday and Saturday we talked to daddy, told him it was ok to go, that we would be ok. For some reason that I can’t remember, we weren’t allowed to turn the defib unit off. But we were allowed to slow it down to the max. He held on though. Saturday night mama sent us home to get some rest. She called us around 7:00 the next morning. He was gone, having died just at sunrise on Sunday November 7, 2004. She’d played music for him all night, sitting up w/ her best friend. The last thing she played, the music he heard here when he left, was “Days of Elijah”. She said it was like a celebration. Husband and I went to the hospital. The nurses brought us breakfast and let us sit with daddy as long as we wanted. We left around 8:30. My kids didn’t see daddy in the hospital, a decision that we made together. They had already seen their other grandparents in hospitals, nursing homes, and caskets. All within the past 6 months. Enough.
That Sunday was special in my parents’ church, because they were beginning the process of raising funds to build a new church, having outgrown their space. Daddy had made a wooden box that had been used before for taking special offerrings. He had refurbished it, fancied it up, for this particular Sunday. We think he waited around just long enough to make sure they used it.
The letting go continued.