Towards the end of my father’s life I became very angry with God. I spent 7 years watching my father’s crusade to eat once again. It was abominable, heartbreaking and enraging. Holidays, Birthdays and special events were no longer “special.” Food became the symbol of my father’s struggle, and food is at the center of every single celebration in life.
I struggled to understand why this was happening to my father, why my family. I was having a difficult time understanding why my sweet father had to suffer yet we have prisons full of bad people who are perfectly healthy. Let’s give the cancer to them and save the good people like my Dad. Please understand, I watched my father suffer. His screams and cries shattered my heart. I was desperate and “giving cancer to bad people” seemed very logical back then.
Many times I would think to myself, “Are you there God? It’s me Lisa.”
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My father on the other hand became deeply religious. His bible was tattered and highlighted, notes in his shaky penmanship were in the margins. He would ask me to hold hands and pray with him. I would watch my very weak, frail father pray with such force. He believed.
The night before my father died is embedded in my brain. We sat in the ER for hours waiting for someone to fix his Peg Tube. We were told there was an issue with the tube and they were concerned he was aspirating again. We now know he was dying and his body was rejecting the feedings.
I drifted to sleep on my makeshift bed of chairs in the ER and was woken up to the horrific sounds of my father screaming in pain. 3 months later and I can still hear my father’s screams, I have nightmares where I am jolted out of my sleep to the sounds of my heart breaking and a face full of tears. Rage took over and I shouted to God, “Where are YOU!!! Why are you doing this! Go torture the bad people, leave my father alone!”
I had to walk out of my father’s room because at this point tears were flowing and I was having a very difficult time keeping myself together. As I paced the emergency room corridor I cursed God in my head and eyeballed everyone else looking healthy and happy. I remember seeing a cute elderly lady laying on a gurney thinking, “Even she looks healthier than my Dad! I bet she’s like 100! This is so unfair!!!!” A couple feet away was a man who had a broken leg and I thought to myself, “Isn’t he lucky he ONLY has a broken leg!” I was furious and despite the sweet old lady smiling and waving at me I wasn’t sure if I wanted to scream at her or wave back. It was so unfair! Did God forget our family?
Once again I thought to myself, “Are you there God, It’s me Lisa.”
Our story wasn’t done, I wasn’t ready to say good-bye despite how much my father was suffering. I wanted my father alive and healthy.
After I finished my adult tantrum I made my way back to my Dad. He was sitting in his bed, quietly watching TV. I looked right into his eyes, held his hand and told him, “I love you more Dad.” He smiled and said, “No I love you more.” He asked for my mother, who was right next door. I watched them hold hands, hug, kiss and tell each other how much they loved each other. With tears in my eyes, I watched my mother gracefully cover my father and try to make him as comfortable as possible. The loved they shared for each other was so powerful you could feel it. I watched my mother care for my father in what would be the last time. With movements like an angel she comforted my dying father.
It was at this moment I realized my father was dying.
Instantly I began apologizing to God begging for mercy. We tried our best to get my father comfortable that night as he was transported to a hospital room. When the nurse told us it was safe to leave we all kissed my father good night and left. I knew my father was dying and I prayed harder than I ever prayed that night. After 7 years of watching my father suffer I wanted to hold his hand as he took his last breath. I begged God to please help and be merciful. I begged for His forgiveness.
The next day my father passed away peacefully surrounded by his family. When I walked into his hospital room that fateful day through his mask my father smiled and whispered, “I love you more. Always remember that.”
My father endured suffering and pain to great lengths, but his death was beautiful.
Through my father’s pain and suffering he showed me and continues to show me that God is good and heaven is for real.
I carry in my heart a lifetime of beautiful memories. My father’s tattered bible, the feathers I’m constantly finding since my father’s passing and so much more is proof that God was there all along, He still is.
I now think to myself, “Thank you God for blessing me with such a wonderful man as my father. You were there all along and you’re still with me.”