A Borgdorff gathering is not unusual and during the summer months I would even say is quite normal. They are often marked with good conversation, laughter, sometimes some tears and an overall good feeling of being together.
On this date last year it was a gathering of a different kind. My Mom had alerted us on that Sunday morning that she had called 911 because my Dad was having extreme pain. He was alert and when we got to the ER he was clearly uncomfortable, but still so alert. He asked me to call his friend Ron who he was supposed to have Tea with that afternoon and give him a heads up his day wasn’t going as planned. It all felt like a little bump in the road, for a short while.
Then the Doc came in and reported that my Dad’s ruptured ulcer was the presenting issue and due to his compromised physical condition, he was not a candidate for surgery. The facts unfolded in a conversation with a few of us as my very brave sister Arlene outlined for my Dad what the Drs were not saying. We talked about how on Friday he was told there was no reason to believe his end would be soon and this morning, due to the complications, his life was now limited to maybe two weeks.
We left my parents for a few minutes alone as they tried to absorb how a Sunday morning went so quickly from planning to go to Church to now preparing to live out the last days of my Dad’s life.
We all agreed my Dad should be admitted for pain control and then he would come home on Hospice.
I can hear this as if it was yesterday. It makes me smile deeply. My Dad loved to be crafting emails, advocating for the Belhar, preparing to chair his next committee meeting and occasionally glancing through Facebook.
“If I am going to stay here you better go home and get my computer. I have some things to get done.”
We waited for him to get settled in the room. His pain was great and we so wanted him comfortable We met Dr Hadley and she was such a gift to us. She honored Arlene’s role as a Hospice nurse and worked closely with her to ensure his pain was managed. As my Mom and I prepared to run for the computer, Dr. Hadley came out and said I don’t think you should leave. He is changing quickly.
But, my mind wanted to say, he needs his computer. And just that quick, I heard what she was saying. We took a minute to catch our breath and then we knew we needed to gather.
In the hours that followed a gathering unfolded. One by one, my Mom, my siblings, and their spouses, my nieces and nephews and my dear Aunt Dot all filled the room. We shared silence and song, we shared scripture and prayer and conversation and laughter and memories. Dear Erika was the Chaplin on duty at Spectrum that day. She is someone who we have shared life with and her and my Dad shared friendship. It was sweet. We remembered and we stood in the gap as my Dad transitioned from his life on earth to his life eternal.
My body can feel the emotion of that day as if it was yesterday. I hope to never lose the feelings of that day. I hope to always weep as I feel the ache and I hope to always celebrate as I feel the joy of my Dad’s life. I hope to never lose the overarching gratitude I hold in my heart every day for the life we all shared with him.
I have been very aware of the time today. I remember what time we got to the ER, what time we got to the hospital room, what time my Dad faded from our presence. what time we called Aunt Marg and Uncle Bill and others. And I remember, oh how I remember, when he took his last breath with my Mom at his side.
But the sweetest memory of the painful day was the fact that we gathered. We honored the way that our Dad and Mom taught us to join together and bear one another burdens. We showed up and lived present to the pain and the promises.
We miss you Dad.
Blessed Be His Name!