2021 has been a really rough year. The world has been in more need of kindness and mercy this year, it seems, more than ever. Everyone has a story. No one has been unaffected. I am the same.
My grandfather, at the tender age of 97, entered the hospital in mid-December with Covid, pneumonia, and C-diff. He had his Covid symptoms for about one week prior to entering. Only a day or two later, my father entered the hospital with Covid and pneumonia. My aunt and her son (my cousin), who are my grandfather's caretakers, also had Covid. My aunt ended up in the hospital not long after my dad. Everyone had it. Everyone lives out in the middle of the country, on those big one-mile square plots, just down the road from each other. Concern and caution had been thrown out the window. I didn't seem so concerned for my grandfather. He was old. He had lived a long, full life and loved Jesus. There was hope for where he was going. No one thought he would make it through. The focus turned to my father. He was declining and not at a slow enough pace. He was too sick on my birthday to get on the phone and tell me he loved me or "Happy Birthday". THAT was a big deal. We lived with my dad growing up; he's the one that raised us. We are extremely close. He hadn't had a brush with death like this before. Me, as his child, wasn't ready to deal with his death. I needed to be able to call him. I needed to be able to have deep conversations with him. Even at 70, he still has so much to do. We are starting this new adventure together. I couldn't remember the last time we were in the same space together, that I was able to actually touch him. Because I currently live abroad, the time zones are flipped. So now was my sleeping schedule, or rather, lack thereof, was as well.
“He was celebrating his dad's life because he knew right where he was.”
The updates that came all night long became a shock to my system at every ding the phone made. Anxiety rushed over me every time the phone rang. "This is too much for me.", I remember feeling. Everyone is sick and there's nothing anyone can do. Over several days, my grandfather began to recover. He was sitting up, eating, talking, not needing much oxygen. It was looking good. My aunt was discharged from the hospital but ended up back in the ER. She was sent home with oxygen because they didn't have space to admit her. My dad was continuing to decline. I was able to video call him and all he could do was hold the phone with one hand and sign hand signals with the other in trying to answer our questions. It was hard to not break down right there and let him see how worried I was. But, I held it together, if just for a couple more minutes on the call.
I got the call that they had moved my grandfather up to the "Progressive Unit" at the hospital. This was the same unit my dad was in. They wanted to be able to give him more intensive care. I thought that was good but also could be bad. No one could be in the room with him anymore. But on the other hand, the final fight against the ailments would be fought thoroughly and be done with.
After a couple more days of touch-and-go with my dad, he turned a corner. His sense of humor and sarcasm was coming back. He could talk for a few minutes at a time. He was eating again. They were going to ween him off oxygen and see how he did. And he began to do great. We were able to video call for about 45 minutes on his 12th day in the hospital. He looked and sounded so much better, even normal. He wasn't out of the hospital yet. But at least I felt like he was going to be OK.
But then the call came. Grandpa wasn't doing well. He was unresponsive and there wasn't much more that could be done. They were allowing the family to come in and be with him that evening. My dad wasn't able to go because he was still in the hospital (a different one other than my grandfather). My step-mom called in the middle of her night, about 1:10 am for her, to say that grandpa had just passed away. She was going to wait to call my dad and brother until the morning since it was the middle of the night for them. I was sad for my dad. I wished he didn't have to get that call while he was in the hospital and wouldn't be able to see his dad alive again. I was sad that he would have to feel the same feelings I was looking toward having to feel about him. I called my dad later that day, when he would be waking up in the morning, to see how he was. And he was happy. He was celebrating his dad's life because he knew right where he was. His dad was celebrating with God, dancing with Jesus and my grandmother, hugging my brother, Kit. Yes, my dad wouldn't be able to see him any longer here on earth, but he would see him again in heaven. He was celebrating!
After intense prayers from around the world, my dad was released from the hospital the next day, without oxygen. He has continued to have an amazing recovery. To go from so deathly ill to at home without oxygen is a miracle. To not even have enough breath to say, "Happy Birthday" to holding a regular conversation is a miracle. That I have such an amazing dad is such a miracle.
I am not going to be able to go back home for my grandfather's funeral. Everyone is too sick and travel restrictions are pretty intense right now. I've been remembering the 7 years we spent living with my grandparents, the amazing caregiver my grandfather was, his teaching me about chinchillas (super cool animals, by the way). I will miss him. He was a great man and loved Jesus. He loved my grandmother. He loved his kids. And, he certainly loved me, the first and oldest of all the grandkids. As I was thanking God for his life, I simply whispered, "Tell him I said, "Hi"".
Endnote . . . For all of you that prayed for my family during this time, thank you so much. Those prayers are truly invaluable. Please continue to pray for those in my family that do not know the Lord, therefore not having hope to see passing relatives in the future. God hears the cries of his people.
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