Monday, August 13, 2012

Two Fathers, Two Daughters

We hear our whole lives that God works in mysterious ways.  I really believe there is a plan and that we are not always apprised of exactly what God has in store for us.  But I do know that God puts people in our lives at different times with purpose.  I also know that there are no coincidences in life, but events that coincide with one another.  I believe that this, too, is God's work.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about this today.  Today as I mourn the passing of my Dad, I cannot help but have my heart and thoughts re-routed to my dear friend Sherry, who is walking right beside me.  Not only in her sympathies for my loss ... but carrying the pieces of her own breaking heart for a loss she, too, is experiencing.

Those who know me well, know that Sherry is a friend of mine for nearly 30 years.  She has lived with my family and I have lived with hers.

Our lives have often mimicked one another, we are the same age, our children were born very close to one another, and our adolescence was turbulent at times.  Through all of the struggles we've endured; we have always managed to keep in contact with each other.

October 30th, 2011 I received a message from Sherry, sharing with me that she had received a call from her Mother.  Her Dad was ill.  Sherry and her brother were going to immediately book a flight and head down to Newfoundland to be with their parents.

November 1st, 2011 was the 42nd anniversary of my Dad and his wife.  She was preparing a dinner for them to share, when Dad could not contain his love any longer ... stepping behind Tricia and wrapping his arms around her, as they began to dance in the kitchen, his back went out.  Or so we thought at the time.

I remember being on the phone with Dad, sharing my pain for my dear friend and her family with him.  He immediately asked for everyone's names.  Asked for all the details that I knew at the time.  Then he did what he did best.  He led me in prayer.  Together we prayed for the healing of Sherry's father.  For a safe journey for Sherry and her brother (Fred).  We prayed together several times.  On several occasions.  In our conversations Dad would ask of my friend's father, listening to any news or update I could provide.  Then we would pray some more.

Over the next months and through the holidays, I tried to be there for Sherry, as best I could.  What were the words appropriate to encourage a friend whose father was battling cancer?  How do I be there for her?  The question and the answer are one and the same.  I stood by her!!  I listened and prayed and remembered and encouraged and prayed some more.

After the holidays my family learned that what we thought was Dad's back going out, was in fact an enlarged prostate.  Dad was in the advanced stages of prostate cancer!

Sherry and I both found ourselves on the same path.  Attempting to make sense out of all of the medical jargon.  What do all of the levels mean?  PSA.  Platelets.  We quickly became experts on the topic.  A subject neither of us ever wanted to be well versed on.

Over the next seven months, we compared notes.  We listened to one another.  We prayed for each other's father.  We encouraged each other.  We cheered each other on.  Biopsies, Chemo, Radiation.  The cancers have spread.  Hopeful news of possibly years of quality of life ahead.

As the summer of 2012 arrived, both of our fathers began to slowly change course.  My Dad became weaker with each passing day.  Blood replaced urine and cancer had left his bones broken, and taken residence in all of his internal organs.  He was suffering.

Sherry's Dad seemed to be on a different road.  On July 27th, he had surgery, the surgeons removed his bladder, prostate, lymph nodes and a portion of his bowels.  They then be placed an ostomy pouch in his side.

He came through surgery well!!  We all rejoiced in the thoughts that he had taken a turn for the better!!

My heart was heavy knowing that my Dad was on a different path. A path of suffering and pain.  A path that would lead him home to our Heavenly Father.  The journey was long and painful to observe.

Cancer had claimed his voice, Dad was no longer able to speak much, his words were jumbled and with each passing day he became more and more incoherent.  His mind began to betray him ... he was experiencing hallucinations, attempting to get out of the car on the highway.  Fearing the Russian Mafia was trying to steal his cath bag.  Picking up passengers in the middle of a conversation.  One of our last conversations, Dad was reminiscing with me about our trip to China.

July 29th, Dad went into a coma.  I thought for sure that the time was here.  In hindsight I don't think I have breathed since that day.

The coma lasted about five hours, then he came back to us.  A blessing?  Who knows...

Sherry's Dad had also taken a turn, the doctors were not sure why.  Every test in the book was done in hopes of learning what was happening.  How could this turn be so sharp. From one moment to the next ... from hope to fear in the blink of an eye.

August 7th, 2:00AM,  Sherry receives a call from the hospital.  Her dad was now on life support.

I remember a conversation we had a couple of weeks back when she asked me... "When is Enough, Enough?"

I had no answer.

August 11th, 4:00PM - My Dad went into a coma.  He would not wake up again.

Sherry learns that her Dad's cancer has spread to his brain.

August 12th, 3:45PM - My Dad, Donald Stanley Crisp passed away.

August 13th, 6:15PM - Sherry's Dad, Gerald Kenneth Vatcher passed away after a gut-wrenching decision was made to stop life support.

Through the pain we are taught to seek faith, to look, search feverishly for the good, the meaning.

I take comfort in the belief that when Sherry's Father became ill ... before we knew my Dad would meet the same fate;  Dad and I prayed for him.

Now my Dad is in Heaven with Our Lord, awaiting Sherry's Dad.

     Two Fathers, who never knew one another in life, whose lives were different, but whose last months were parallel, will live in restored health for eternity, together in God's Kingdom.

    Two Daughters, who met as young girls, who shared decades of joys, pains, births, now share grief in the passing of our fathers.