I get to keep him this time

“Squished up like a raisin” is not the description you want to hear about a lung, but that is the way the doctors described my Daddy’s condition this week.

A few weeks ago Daddy got sick with the flu that turned into a sinus and upper respiratory infection. My crazy Daddy (also stubborn as a mule) finally went to the doctor and got medication, but at the time it was supposed to work, his condition actually worsened.

Being the stick-it-out, toughen-up kind of man that he is, he failed to call anyone early enough. Pneumonia turned into Empyema. This condition causes the infection to make the walls of the lungs stick together and keep the lung from inflating. He soon found himself carted to the hospital by my baby brother with little choice in the matter.

“It was as bad as a lung could get,” his doctor said. Had he waited a day or two more, the infection might have taken my Daddy to heaven.

I’ve been here before. The long hours in the hospital… the prayers… the waiting… the two steps forward fives steps back… and I ended up saying goodbye. I didn’t want to be here again.

BUT I get to keep him this time.

I get to keep him… this time.

I have a deeper understanding of what this walk looks like than I did 9 years ago. I know that prayers aren’t guarantees that we get what we want. I know that righteous living and obedience don’t keep us from pain and death. I know that God is at work in the good and the bad. And I know that one day I will not get to keep him.

So I have stared out of hospital windows, wrangled kids in small spaces, straightened blankets, gotten ice water, tried to coerce a grumpy man into doing breathing exercises, begged him to talk to doctors sooner next time, and exhaustively thanked my God for more time.

I have seen many of my friends say goodbye to parents over the last few years, and I have seen some recover. Some undeserving are still here and some deserving are gone.

I don’t understand, but I will trust the One who knows what He is doing in all things.

I don’t have a lesson in a box or a scripture bow to tie on this week. I merely have a grateful heart, because…

I get to keep him this time.

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  1. I, too, have spent MANY hours in a hospital, wrangling kids in tight spaces, struggling to understand medical jargon, and praying for strength to remain conscious when passing out (that’s MY passing out) would be my body’s preference. Between my daddy, who left us for heaven in 1999, and mother, still here by God’s grace, and my four chil-rens who have all been hospitalized with maladies as far-reaching as lacerations (hitting edge of pool) to 12-hour scoliosis spinal repair surgery/recovery. Yep..done many hours in that ‘hell-hole’ rescue place. Your expression of emotional swings is accurate, my little sister, and I am holding your (figurative) hand in this, understanding your thoughts. Will my loved one die? Will she recover OK — no REALLY ok??? Will I keep myself conscious through this doctor consultation after surgery (no…that’s another story)…and will cancer take my Daddy? yes. It did, eventually. But my Lord and Savior held me through every one of those times, and He still does, when I have to help my little mama get her walker, and march her into a procedure that will be painful. Then I take her home, set her upon her ice pack, get her ice water, feed her something soft — holding back the tears till I get into my car. He keeps giving me the strength, one at a time. Somehow. Someway. Only in His mighty way of doing things are we caregivers/mamas/daughters/wives able to provide HIS hands and HIS tender touch and HIS knowledge of how to make the bed…HIS goodness flows through our fingers. I’m reminding myself through this response that ours is the privilege, over our siblings who may not be called to be the ‘one’ who cares for mama and daddy. We get to minister to Jesus, Himself, as we honor our parent and we cry over their pain. And we hold our tongues when they are stubborn as a mule. Been there, done that. …and still doing it. I love you!

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