I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We had the most different Christmas we have ever had. After waking up early to sweet Abbey's excitement, we went down to the tree and opened all the surprises from Santa. Then we skyped with Ben and Mary - it was their Christmas Eve. Then the phone rang and I felt a dread I haven't ever felt on Christmas Day before. I knew it was my step-mother calling to tell me that my dad had passed away.
My dad has had Parkinson's Disease for several years now, but the last few years have been quite a trial for him and his wife as he struggled to fight a losing battle. A few weeks ago he told my step-mother that eating wasn't worth it anymore - he was losing the ability to swallow which is one of the last stages of the disease. Then he stopped eating and drinking altogether. The Hospice staff confirmed that his body was shutting down. My step-mother let us all know so we could prepare - if that is even possible. It has been difficult to be so far away, but when we left, my dad and I had said our goodbyes, knowing this would be a possibility. Then on Christmas Eve at about 11 PM Utah time, while my step-mom was holding my dad's hand and reading him scriptures, my dad took his last breaths.
My logical mind can reason with my emotional mind, and I am convinced that this was the best present Dad could have received - to be released from his broken body. I have imagined all the reunions he is having in heaven with my twin brother, my sister, his parents, and two of his own siblings. I could even feel his happiness. Yet, the emotion of losing a parent is more powerful than I ever imagined. It is a wake up call for my mortality, because if my dad dies, my dad who used to have all the answers to my three year old questions, anyone can die, including me. I'm sure everyone comes to this realization when they lose a parent, but even though his frail health should have prepared me for this day, I feel bereft.
So the rest of our Christmas day continued to be uniquely strange. While I was talking with my step-mother and emailing family the news, Brett continued making the crepes, bacon, and biscuits I had started. Then our friends Felicity and Jesse came over and played with Abbey (thanks so much guys) while Brett and I dealt with booking my flight home. In the middle of breakfast the plumber came to fix the sink in one of the bathrooms (Christmas isn't a holiday here). Then I made a batch of rolls and a cake to take to the dinner at Priedeman's we had been invited to. Then when we got home from dinner I wrote an obituary. There seemed no time for sadness.
I'm sure my Dad would have wanted everyone to celebrate the life of our Savior on this day - honoring the one who makes this experience full of hope. And just as Abbey wrote in her message for Grandma to read to Grandpa before he died, I know that I will see my father again. I will see him standing fully erect and dignified as he did before this disease took his perfect posture away. I know we will be able to hug once again. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me about patience, humility, forgiveness, and so many other virtues we all struggle with.