Today it has been 7 years since my dad passed away...
It has been 84 months.
It has been 365 weeks
It has been 2555 days
...since we watched my dad take his final breath. He was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer and 6 weeks later he was gone. That final night he was surrounded by all of his family. We all got to say our good-bye. For one brief moment he opened his eyes and squeezed our hands and looked at us. We all huddled around with tears in our eyes and said our final "I love you" as he slipped back into his morphine-induced sleep. He was kept comfortable so he was not in pain. We sat there watching his numbers dip lower and lower in silence. We prayed and watched and hoped he was not in pain anymore.
All I could do was watch the clock and wonder what time it would happen and what was next...my sister who was pregnant with her second baby, my brother who was engaged to be married, and me on the brink of my college graduation. He would miss it all. My mom. My mom who was watching the man she loved for so many years slowly slipping away. My grandma who had to lose another one of her children and my aunts and uncles who were losing their brother. My brother-in-law who had just lost his sister to the same disease. My sweet little nephew who lost his grandpa and my unborn niece who would never know this man.
It happened then...about 12:01 am. He was gone. We knew he wasn't suffering and in pain. He was somewhere better and reunited with family and friends. I remember feeling a huge weight lift off my shoulders. He wasn't in pain...he wasn't in pain...he wasn't in pain. I remember walking out of the room because we heard my aunt and uncle outside of the room (they had just arrived) and my sister and I had to tell them. I went back into the room but had to leave because I couldn't handle seeing my dad's body. It is an image to this day that I cannot get out of my head. My mom and brother holding his hand. It was just too much for me.
I wanted to remember my dad as the man he was when he was alive. He was a dedicated hard worker who was so proud of his family. He traveled to the other side of the world for a job when he could not find work in the U.S. He was a proud Marine and Vietnam veteran. A loving husband and father and oh my goodness...the best grandpa out there.
My nephew and my dad were best friends. He could do no wrong in grandpa's eyes. My dad would sneak him Twizzlers and pop because he was grandpa. They were so fun to watch. I can only imagine how my dad would act now with 7 grandchildren. He and my nephew would probably talk about history, war, and his Marine "stash". All my nieces would have the best audience for when they like to perform songs and dance. He would play baseball, basketball, football, etc with Brendan or laugh as he ran circles around the house. My sweet little nephew (who is named after my dad) would have a playmate for life and my daughter would have grandpa wrapped around her finger...along with his other six.
I had this conversation with my son yesterday on the way to preschool.
Me: "Brendan tomorrow will be 7 years that Grandpa Paul went to heaven. That makes mommy sad because she misses him."
Brendan: "Oh mommy. When I get to heaven will I get to meet him?"
When we get to heaven I know he will be the first one waiting for us. I know he watches over us and he is healthy and with his family and friends. I'm thankful to have had 23 years with him as my dad and tomorrow my sister, brother, and mom will all call and text just to say we love each other and we can't believe it has been 7 years.
I woke up this morning and tried to remember all the details from that day. After we left the hospital my sister and I were in some type of surreal disbelief. It is really over. One of those defining life moments that you will always remember but wonder how you got there so fast. My mom and I had a lot of family staying with us and they took care of all the details. It is a blur to me now. It was like I woke up at 10am that morning and the next thing we were sitting in the cemetery watching his casket be lowered into the ground.
My dad has had the most glorious 7 years in heaven. We just imagine all the family and friends he has been spending his time with catching up and doing what he loves most. My dad wants us to enjoy life and spend time together. We miss you and know we will see you again.
Love you dad.
(I do have pictures I want to add but my scanner is not working. Will post those soon)