16669682 60 Ac 4148 Bd85 8 De9155512 E5 1


A grief narrative by Anonymous

It really doesn’t feel like too long ago when I went to California after hearing about my dad’s stroke. I remember FaceTiming him when he was in Mexico and telling him that it’s ok to let go if he’s tired. That Jesus was waiting for him when he was ready. Little was I aware of what God had in store for me in the coming months. I don’t remember what day or time I landed, barely even remember who picked me up from the airport. I do remember wanting to get right down to it and heading to the border in Calexico to see about bringing him to a hospital over on this side. Lizzie headed out before me, and I stopped for a Red Bull and a snack on my way out. I found her parked at a Pep Boys not too far from the border. She was afraid of going too far and then being caught in the line to get into Mexico. We decided we’d split and take two different streets in case the ambulance took a different route. A red ambulance zoomed by me but they didn’t have their lights on, but I decided to pursue them anyways until I was told it most likely wasn’t him. I backed off and parked at a McDonald’s to wait and watch again. I don’t clearly remember how we found out, but someone finally confirmed that he had passed the border and was put in an ambulance. We missed it. We both sped over to the hospital where he was taken, I got there before Lizzie. I rushed inside and in my sweat and panic, inquired about him. Yes he made it! Bummed that I missed the ambulance, but relieved that he was here. Finally. Weeks of suffering in Mexico and unable to communicate with us. He was here at last.

Before I could see him, I had to fill out paperwork. I don’t quite recall when Lizzie arrived but I know it was soon after. I hurriedly followed the man who lead me back to the room in the corner to him. As I approached, he held out his hand, and I grabbed onto it. “Dad, it’s me Geo I’m here. You’re here! You made it!” In his groggy state, I’m not sure that he even recognized me, but I wasn’t leaving his side. I wanted his wife to know that he was in good hands. I wanted HIM to know he wouldn’t be alone. Things are a bit blurry after that as far as when Lizzie came in and when we took turns being with him, but eventually Lizzie headed out to tend to the little ones, and I stayed behind. The next thing I know he needs to be transferred. Please not San Diego, it’s too far of a drive. San Diego has no rooms thank God, and he’ll be airlifted to Palm Springs. That’s only 40 minutes from Lizzie’s house. Thank You, God. I call Lizzie to let her know he’s going to be airlifted to Palm Springs and she just so happens to be not too far from Palm Springs and will be there to receive him when the helicopter lands. He won’t be alone. Thank You, God. I hear the loud thump thump of the helicopter landing on the roof and they tell me that’s for him! I want to follow him as closely as I can before they lift off so he’s put on a gurney and I hold his hand all the way to the end of the hallway and I tell him I’ll see him later before I run to the front of the hospital to see him take off. In a panic, I look for the perfect spot to watch him go. I find it in the grass by the parking lot and I stand and wait with my phone recording. Finally, I see tiny heads inside the helicopter, and it begins to lift off slowly. I wave with all the enthusiasm I can, and I see a tiny hand from the nurse wave back to me and bend down to let Dad know that I am there. I blow a kiss and they’re off.

Is this real life or am I having a bad dream? I take a few moments to absorb everything, and the tears begin to flow freely. Relief, sadness, confusion, uncertainty, it all settles in. After gathering myself, I hop in the car and rush over to Palm Springs. Upon arrival, I see the dreaded Covid precautions and realize I don’t have a recent Covid test with me. As I speak to the security, he is moved and allows me to come inside to visit Dad. Thank You, God. Lizzie leaves as I come in to stay and Dad seems so bad, so out of it. I sit with him in the noisy ER department determined not to leave his side. That night and the next few nights, I got little to no sleep and what I did get was super uncomfortable. It’s ok. Dad has it worse and I don’t want him to be alone and afraid. Lizzie and Jia come to take turns with me and we make it work for him. The neurosurgeon wants to operate but Dad says no. Eventually the neurosurgeon says even if he does operate, the quality of life would be poor and Dad would most likely not walk or talk again. Dad is firm in denying surgery. He counts on his fingers to show he’s had too many and he’s tired. “Are you sure, Dad? Do you know what it means if you don’t get surgery?” He jokingly sticks his tongue half way out and throws his head to the side with eyes closed. Death. Rejecting surgery means imminent death. The neurosurgeon tells us eventually that he will fall into a coma and pass away and that there is no pain with these tumors. He gives an estimate of 2 months maximum before Dad passes. Hard to hear, but Dad’s tired. He’s had a hard 22 years and he’s tired. He wants his wife too. The social worker in the hospital eventually makes up a letter for her to give to immigration at the border pleading them to allow her to pass so she can spend time with her dying husband. It works! She’s at the border waiting! I go to pick her up and Dad starts asking Lizzie about calling her. I tell her to try and hold him off but he keeps asking. He’ll have to be sad for just a little while longer so we can surprise him with her. We arrive at the hospital and I go in the room first saying hello and she comes in right after me. Dad bursts out in happy tears and she kisses him and asks him if he’s eaten dinner yet. She cares so much for him and she’s so good to him. Thank You, God. As days go on, we talk about what the future looks like. The doctor says hospice, so we’ll have to get him into a facility. I start to get bad feelings about that. I didn’t want him to be alone. Can I bring him home to Jersey? No, no one will allow him to fly in his condition. As Lizzie is in talking to them about hospice and finding a place, she’s moved and confirms with Brent that they should have him go to their house. It’s the right thing to do, but she will need our support, she tells us. Dad will be safe and happy. Thank You, God. After she tells me that over the phone, I quickly move out of her guest room, and dust and clean every crevice I could. I wanted to be ready. I have the littles help me move the bed. His bed would be delivered soon they tell me so I want to help as much as possible. From that point to him arriving is sort of blurry for me, but there he was. He made it to the place where he would spend the rest of his life.

The kids were ecstatic to have their Grandpa Jorge, their Abuelito there in the house. They’d sneak in and he’d pass them some of his favorite Maria cookies or Oreos. He’d listen to them talk and watch them as they ran up and down the hallway. Little Abigail stuck to Monica like glue and she brought Dad lots of smiles just by being her cute little self. Jacob was set on helping his Grandpa Jorge once he arrived because he heard he was sick. He was going to get him water and feed him chips he said. Him and Madelynn made up their minds that they would be little nurses and check in every once in a while. The big boys had a little bit of a better understanding of how grave the situation truly was. They shied off a little more than the others. But there were special moments where Liam especially would want to go in there and just ask how Dad was doing. He could feel he wasn’t ok. He has such a sympathetic heart that Liam. Kaio and Junior would walk by and stop and quietly say hi, not really knowing how to act. Eventually it became the norm that Dad was right there in that room. He had Monica running left and right to get him all he craved, and it was a lot! She always went and got what he wanted even when he got mean. She never murmured a single complaint because she loves him. She waited on him hand and foot, day and night. Thank You, God. I wish for a love like that for my sons. Time passed so quickly with Dad being there. Eventually I had to come back to Jersey. I said goodbye not knowing whether it would be my last. I told him I’d be back in 3 weeks and asked if he would still be there. He gave me a silly look as if to ask where he would be going. Those weeks drug on, but I made it back and yes he was still there and just seemed a little more swollen and tired than the last time I saw him. Before I knew it, it was Jacob’s birthday and we took the cake in Dad’s room to sing happy birthday. He may have thought it was for him, but it’s ok. The next day was his birthday and we got him balloons and cake. That day I was feeling the weight of my emotions. I didn’t like seeing him bedridden on his special day. I also didn’t want to go be in the room too much because I knew I would start crying and I didn’t want that to make him cry. In the morning when I passed by to say happy birthday with the kids, he started singing, so we all sang along to him. He was so happy that day and I can’t remember the last time we all spent a birthday with him. I am so happy to now have that memory. Thank You, God. After that day, I think that’s when we started noticing a decline. He was sleeping more and not eating as much. And for him to refuse some of his favorite foods, that said a lot. The Friday after his birthday he looked like he was spacing out and his eyes would get real wide and his gaze would just slowly turn elsewhere. The nurse told us he’s most likely having seizures. Poor guy. He was just awake and singing happy birthday what happened?? On Saturday, he had a burst of energy after Monica had told him that she arranged for someone to come from the Catholic Church on Sunday. He was just real excited about that I guess! When the man came and went, I was so proud of Dad and how he behaved himself for the whole time. But I know it was a lot for him because he slept for a long time after that. The next few days started the big decline. I noticed when I’d talk to him his eyes didn’t look the same. They were looking at me, but not quite. His speech also became worse. Lizzie and I spent a good while trying to figure out what he was trying to tell us one day. He was looking for someone. Was it a woman? Yes. Was she family? Yes. After more questions like these we finally understood that he was looking for me, Geo (though I was in the room with him), and wondering what day I was going home. Friday, we told him. I’d be going home Friday. That’s what he wanted to know, then he could rest. I didn’t spend much time in his room the next few days. I hated to see how fast he was declining. I didn’t want to admit that I knew he was closer to death with each day. Thursday night came almost in an instant. It was just Monday that he was asking when I’d go home. At this point, he had pretty much stopped eating and would have not even a full cup of arroz con leche, his favorite. I had to go in and say my goodbyes that night. I knew it would be the last time I would see him alive. Since I know I wouldn’t be able to put my words together, I wrote him a letter while I sat by his side. I knew he wouldn’t read it, but I needed that closure. I needed him to know that I would be ok. I needed to know I would be ok. I penned out his letter, and I let him know that I was going home tomorrow and that I loved him. One last moment with this man who was my father. The man I held onto so much bitterness towards. I told him I loved him and in my letter I told him I forgave him and asked him to forgive me. Thank You, God. Lizzie told me she would read it to him after I left. “Make sure to tell him that I’ve gone home.”

The flight home was a quiet one. I spread out between my boys and slept the whole way. I was relieved to be home. From the airport all the way home, we praised God by playing worship music up as loud as we could stand. I needed to keep praising Him and remembering His promises so I could feel and cling to His peace. Thank You, God. The days go by and Dad is getting worse. He stops eating all together and is no longer responding like he was before. His eyes stay fixed Lizzie tells me and I see it on the FaceTime. How badly I want a reaction from him or some acknowledgment that he hears me. I also wanted him to confirm that he wasn’t in pain. He couldn’t do either of those things for me. “I see you Dad, I love you. I know you’re tired, just sleep and get some rest.” No reaction, but I know he heard it. I couldn’t sleep more than two hours at a time just dreading the call that I knew would come eventually. 6:03 am on August 30, 2022 I’m receiving a FaceTime call from Lizzie. I answer and she’s sobbing. I’m waiting to hear that he’s passed, but she’s telling me that he’s been having seizures and the nurse would be there soon. Poor guy he must be in pain. His heart rate is fluctuating from as low as 25 all the way up to 170. His oxygen also drops as low as in the 40s. These are his last moments, I think to myself. Since I’ve been on the phone, his breathing has changed. It seems like he’s struggling even more to fill his lungs. He’s working too hard at it. The sound of his breaths also change a lot. It started to sound like a faint snore, and then a clicking. He is surrounded by love at this moment. Hugs, kisses, sweet rubs on his belly, head, and arms, and reassuring words letting him know that he can rest now. Monica leans over him and tells him in Spanish that he is a good man. Thank You, God. Lizzie calls Beto to let him know that he’s in the final moments of his life. Beto denies that he’ll pass, and says he’ll see him tonight or tomorrow. Lizzie lets him know that she doesn’t believe he will make it that long. I don’t believe it either and if he does make it that long, he’s going to be in pain just from struggling for breaths. Maybe 2-5 minutes pass by and I’m eating an egg - I’m on my second bite of the egg and I don’t chew at all because I’ve noticed his chest rose and fell with his last breath. I look closer as I debate on spitting out the egg. I quickly chew it up and look closer again. Did I see his chest rise again for another breath?? Monica puts her hand on his chest and confirms for me that he did not take that next breath. He’s gone. I cover my mouth in disbelief and I begin pacing the house looking for a place to collapse. Somewhere away from little Jacob. I settle on a barstool and my sense of hearing slowly fades back in. I hear Lizzie yelling, “No Dad, no!” She’s clinging onto him and waiting for the next breath that will never come. She asks why he isn’t taking it and why we can’t hear the sounds of his breaths. She’s hysterical and yelling and I’m on the little screen in her phone crying watching this all unfold. What do I feel? I know he’s with Jesus now. He has suffered for so long in a body that he hated. I feel relieved and grieved all at once. Everything is ok now, but I know I’ll miss his big dimply smile. I wonder when he got to Heaven, did he use his new legs to run straight into the arms of Jesus? I believe so. I believe he ran as fast as he could and he was no longer out of breath, and he held on tight to Jesus like a best friend that he hadn’t seen in years. He is safe in the arms of Jesus. Thank You, God for these last few moments with Dad.
- Anonymous