Six months ago today, my family and I said our last farewells to my dear Dadio. It was a long farewell. One that took its toll over two years of battling what we knew was an unbeatable foe. There were many cherished memories mixed into those two years, but the sweetest were experienced those last two weeks of his life. As my family gathered from all corners of the country, we didn't know how long it would take for him to pass away, we just knew it would be soon and we needed to be together.
I remember stressful days. Colds and sickness spread among family members. Wearied hearts longed for an end to Dad's suffering. Others valiantly held on for one last miracle. Tension arose as we waited day after day, not knowing if our gathering would be for not. Many of us questioned why the final event was being prolonged after an already drawn out experience.
I also remember joyous days and tender mercies. Each family member arrived in time to say goodbye while Dad was still conscious and aware of their presence. Hymns were sung. Prayers were said. Blessings were given. A birthday celebrated. An engagement announced. Meals provided day after day by caring friends and loved ones. Newborn grandchildren blessed. Although logistically stressful to have a house full of almost 30 people for two weeks (keeping track of meals, beds and bathrooms alone was quite a feat), a peaceful spirit filled our home and hearts during that sacred time.
After some reflection, it is so abundantly clear to me now why we needed to be together as a family for that long of a time period, even if it was at times stressful, drawn out and heart wrenching. As it turns out, Dad was giving us his final lesson that everything'll be fine. His ultimate lesson of patience for all of us to experience together. And as always, he was right. Not that everything would be fine with his passing (that's a blog post for another day), but he was trying to show us that those two weeks would work out the way they were supposed to work out. In the end, all of us were present when he passed, the service happened just in time before people had to fly home for work obligations, no one was completely overcome by sickness that they couldn't sing or participate in the funeral and all of us were able to mourn and grieve together as a family.
One last tender mercy was only apparent two months later. The unexpected passing of my sister Michelle in June suddenly made those last two weeks together even more sacred and never to be forgotten. We had no way of knowing that her loss would follow so quickly, but we were given time to be together as a complete family for those 14 days. I'm forever grateful for that time and think of it often. Mostly because I want to make sure I make the most of the moments and relationships that are given to me here and now. Even if they're at times stressful or overwhelming, I know Dadio would want me to know that everything'll be fine.