Those were Dad's words when our family was called to his bedside yesterday. After three years with metastatic prostate cancer that is beyond hope of treatment, my father finally says that his time has come. Just two weeks ago, we talked and he said then that he wasn't ready to die, that he still had some things to take care of. But, last week he was stricken with blood clots in both legs - perhaps the worst I've ever seen. He can't walk 15 feet to the bathroom without extreme pain and as he says, "this is no way to live." So, when he began getting short of breath yesterday he said for the first time, that he was dying. He is in pain and suffering, and he says that it will be a relief when he dies - so we're not to be upset. Growing up, Dad was my baseball coach and I can remember him telling his very competitive son (that's me, of course) not to be upset - that losing was part of playing the game. That there will be victories and there will be defeats - that the game wouldn't be the same without them. So too, is life. We've had so many blessings to remember and cherish; cancer is a defeat but only a temporary one.
Another victory came just last night. Dad's parish priest came to administer last rites. We crowded around his bed and prayed as the priest gave Dad his final blessing. We prayed and thanked the priest for his kindness. Then, my wife - who still suprises me with the depth of her goodness, began to sing. She started Silent Night with a few reluctant family members joining in at first. But then came the deep, weak, slightly out of tune, voice of my Dad. The rest of us joined in and soon had gone through every carol we could think of. When we ran out of meaningful ones, we resorted to Rudolph, Frosty and the like. We were searching for song suggestions and lyrics on our smartphones and ipads. The music proved to be therapeutic for all of us. My Dad loved it!- he'd join in on random lines here and there. The music ended with my wife and daughters singing Breath of Heaven as Dad drifted off to a temporary sleep. We soon said our goodbyes, perhaps for the last time.
As hard as it may be, I try to follow his counsel not to be sad. Afterall, he's suffering - his pain is constant and his quality of life is poor. I know that I will see him again as he knows Jesus and trusts in His saving grace. He knows where's he's headed and now says he's ready to go. So, now we're waiting to see not if, but when the Lord will take him. I pray it is soon, as Dad wants to go. He has run with perserverence the race marked out for him. He is in the Lord's hands - in that we can trust and be thankful.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take Hold of eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1Timothy 6:11-12 NIV