|Papa reading to Braydon just an hour before his stroke|
When the hospital let us down multiple times and almost tried to kill my dad (overdosing him, telling us he wasn't having a stroke when he very much was having a MASSIVE one), he was finally transferred to UNC's Neuro-ICU. He needed to be airlifted but there were tornado warnings in effect and the flight team transported via ambulance instead. I have never in my life been so thankful to see a Tar Heel hat than I was the night the flight crew arrived in my dad's CCU room.
After having life saving brain surgery where they removed some of the dead tissue and also a part of his skull, he remained critically ill. We lived hour by hour, minute by minute. We didn't sleep much, we ate what we could stomach, and we watched a lot of HGTV. The nurses, teams of doctors and surgeons, MRI techs, and many, many more nameless remain the heroes of 2011 for me and my family. I don't remember all of their names, but we cannot say it enough...Their care for my dad, and for my family as a whole was remarkable and "Thank you" doesn't even seem adequate.
|These are the two chairs that we attempted to sleep in while waiting for my dad's emergency brain surgery to be finished. This by far was the worst night of my ENTIRE life.|
|Inside the waiting room, and the phone where we learned that Dad had survived surgery.|
|The ICU waiting room we became too familiar with.|
Mom, you were a rock. I shouldn't have been surprised because you always have been. There are so many moments throughout that whole ordeal that are just too difficult to even try to formulate words, so I won't. You know those moments. Yet your faith remained strong, your love and commitment to your husband never waned once. To watch you 1st hand care for, love on and serve your husband in the midst of such difficult circumstances was such an incredibly amazing life lesson for me. Thank you for honoring my dad and sitting by his side. Thank you for sacrificing your own wants and needs just to stroke his hand if he called out for you. Thank you for modeling what selfless love looks like.
In the wee hours of the morning after "night duty" as I was racing home from Chapel Hill to get back to the kids, a song came on the radio by one of your favorite Christian artists. As I listened to Mandisa singing, I began sobbing and had to pull over because I couldn't even see. It was in the midst of not knowing whether you would even make it until I got back up there to see you. But as I looked up through my tears and saw the sun rising, I heard Mandisa's words: "We may weep for a time but joy comes in the morning, the morning light." It felt like a direct message from my Daddy to me...Even if it is my time to go, you will weep for a time, but when you see the morning light rise up, you'll know that I am home. Home, where there is no weeping. Home, Sweetie. Whatever happens, I'll be home." Every time I drive by that spot in the road, I am reminded of that moment. About how sadness cannot last forever. About how someday, there will be no more heartache or pain or suffering. I'm reminded that the darkness cannot remain dark forever, the sun will always come back out.
Now that it is a year later, our "normal" is different. Our normal includes "sleep club" where Papa is the counselor and dinner times always include story time proudly brought to you by Papa. Normal includes a cane, a lot more free time, and having grandkids leaving toys all over your house. Normal is never having enough milk, chewing lots of Double Bubble, and a slower pace. It means Papa's "homemade" oatmeal surpasses any other establishment's breakfast hands down. It means letting go of a huge chapter in your life as a public school educator and opening the next chapter of educating your grandkids on being a part of our family community. It means spending a lot more time learning about God, finding new ways to be the hands and feet of Christ like we are called to do.
Dad, I am so thankful God's plan for your life included more time with us on this temporary stop we call "life". You are so very, very precious to each of us!! We love you and celebrate each day we have together here on earth!