Love Like Jesus: The Hardest Goodbye
In March of 2021, just weeks after I left Arkansas where he lived and moved to Las Vegas, dad called me out of the blue. At first I was skeptical because dad never called unless he wanted something. But when he found out I left the state, something in him changed. He started calling me on a regular basis at least 2-3 times a week and sometimes daily. He wanted nothing except just to talk to me. Eventually we started having real and meaningful conversations over the phone. And for the first time in my life, I felt like dad wanted to be a part of my life and a relationship began to grow between us. And yet again, God always has a plan.
One day last June, the day after mom went into a nursing home, I called dad crying because I was struggling with losing mom in a sense because of her dementia and how she always knew what to say and what to do. I told him how for the first time ever in my life I had a problem that I couldn't call her and talk to her about. Dad said, "Well, Denise, there's nothing wrong with my mind. You can always call and talk to me." I cried even harder, because I felt like that was his way of telling me he loved me. I can only remember one other time in my life that he actually said he loved me. He was diagnosed with cancer just a couple of weeks later.
Since his death, I have struggled with why God would allow me to finally have a relationship with him that I had longed for my whole life, and then take him away from me so suddenly. And yep, you guessed it, God had a plan. Neither I nor dad knew just 10 short months ago that dad had cancer, but God knew. He knew that dad would need me the last few months of his life. He knew that I wouldn't have been as willing to be there for him. He knew that dad's time was coming to an end and that he and I both needed to reconcile with each other. He knew that I would have had such grief and regret had dad died without that. He was preparing me for what was to come. And in the process, I not only got to have ten months of time with my dad, I got to have new memories with him and I got to be by his side when he died. The last words we said to each other was, "I love you." just two days before he died.
On the morning of February 5, 2022, I woke up in his hospital room at exactly 7:10 a.m. I turned over and looked at him, and at that very moment he took is last breath and went to Jesus. Later that day I received two confirmations that dad is with Jesus. I found this page in his bible that me and mom and Nathan had given him many years ago. He didn't have that bible anymore, but it must have meant a great deal to him for him to tear out and keep this page.
Not long after that I received a text message from one of dad's friends. A mutual friend of theirs is a retired hospice Chaplin, who visited with dad just days before he went into hospice.
I am so grateful that Jesus is smarter than me and that his plan is ALWAYS better than anything I could have ever done on my own. Thank you Jesus for your grace and mercy and for loving me and dad enough to give us the time we needed to heal our relationship before you called him home. Thank you for allowing me to be there to comfort him and to witness that beautiful moment. Thank you for healing him from his cancer, bi-polar disorder and all the pain and suffering he had in this life. Thank you for giving him eternal life. Fly high daddy! I will see you again when it's my turn!