A Different Kind Of Journey
Monday, June 08, 2020
My daughter is dealing with her father's (my ex husband) sudden illness this week. She has a tricky family situation, on her dad's side, and is doing a really good job navigating through a real minefield. For some reason, she was left by herself when her dad was scheduled to have his life support removed last night. The doctors expected her father to pass quickly. (Once his life support was taken away.). My daughter called me sobbing and didn't know what to do. Keep in mind, I walk a very fine line here because I'm his ex wife. And his current wife detests me, I'm not sure why but it is what it is. When my daughter called me, I had no choice but to step in and help her - once I had determined that no one else was going to show up and help her through this. Actually I was livid but I set that aside in an effort to help her navigate this journey to her father's death. I have all kinds of conference apps on my phone and iPads. We set up one of the apps and I proceeded to coach her through this hideous experience of standing watch so a loved one doesn't die alone. When I first appeared via the iPad, she went to pieces as soon as she saw me. The doctor had not yet removed anything. Together we prayed for everyone involved. She explained why she was left there by herself. I gritted my teeth and said nothing except to stress that she wasn't alone because I was now right next to her.
I encouraged her to hold her father's hand and talk to him. From my own experiences, I've found that unconscious people really can feel the comfort and warmth of your hand as well as the comfort from hearing your voice. (A person who was dead and then revived told me this). So between the two of us, she got a chance to tell him everything that was in her heart. She did the talking and I did the encouraging. It was sad but a very moving beautiful experience.
When the doctor removed all of the life support machines she held my hand via my iPad. I talked her through it, I cried with her and I reminded her that she wasn't alone. It took a good 3 hours for his sympathetic nervous system (for breathing) to slow down so he could pass on.
It was a difficult, sad 3 hours but I wouldn't trade it for the world. My daughter felt that I had given her a precious gift but in reality, she gave me the biggest gift of all. She and her father allowed me the honor of being able to comfort them both and help her to stay with him to the moment he was ready to pass from this land to the next. I had forgiven her father years ago for all of the ugliness he put me through. Anger had no place here. This was a lesson in humanity and decency. During our 3 hours of time together we played "remember when?" and both of us told her dad stories about funny times in our daughter's life. We talked to him just like he could hear what we were saying and participate in the conversation. Why? Because deep down inside, I am convinced he could hear us talking, laughing and joking with him. I'm convinced that he knew in his heart that he wasn't dying alone. Yes, I was with my daughter and her dad for the full three hours. When her dad breathed his last, I was there to catch her as she fell into her grief. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I've gone through this whole process with three other family members but I've always been present physically. Of the four deaths, this was by far the most difficult. I'm not sure it could have been any easier if I had been physically present at the hospital, but I definitely know it could have been more awkward and have the potential for disaster if I had been there. Watching a loved one suffer tears my heart out. I felt that out of the fire of grief, we forged a stronger bond between us and a deeper understanding of our human condition. I was worried when there was no one there to drive my daughter from the hospital to her dad's house. She told me, " Don't worry Mom, I can get there. You've helped me to be strong." She got home safely. Today she said she was tired but much stronger than she was yesterday, but not nearly as strong as she'll be tomorrow..I've never been prouder of her than I am right now. She handled such a difficult situation with decency and grace, despite her disfunctional family.