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Time to Go Home

by Brenda Tadych

I have heard stories about loved ones on their deathbed, clinging to their earthly life, when the words of a family member at their bedside gives them permission to let go and continue on their soul’s journey. I came to find out that giving that permission would be the hardest thing I would ever do.

Five days before my dad passed away, I had a dream. It was a dream I still remember six years later with vivid clarity, so I’m sure it was really a Visit. The setting was two men standing on top of white clouds. One of them was my dad in his hospital gown. The second man I didn’t know. He resembled Alfred Hitchcock in appearance, mostly bald and wearing a black suit. He had beside him a black leather bag that looked like the kind of soft leather bag doctors used to carry when they made housecalls.

This man was giving my dad the choice to take the bag and go home (gesturing down with his left hand), or go Home (gesturing up with his right hand). I woke up before the choice was made. I think I forced myself away from the Visit because I was afraid of the answer.

The message that the Visit gave me was that my dad was surely dying and that I needed to assist his peaceful passing by letting him go. He would be bound by his debilitating congestive heart failure until I accepted that it was time for him to go.

I found out the next day that in the middle of the night, Dad had pulled out his intravenous tube and yanked all the other tubes off of his body. He didn’t remember doing it. I’m sure it happened during the Visit, and I know it was at least a subconscious expression of wanting his misery to be over.

Dad was my rock and my foundation. I rode shotgun with him in his pickup truck when I was a child. He could fix anything, and was so strong that I could hang from his arm and swing without him budging. We watched football together when our teams played, his the Dolphins and mine the Bills. He kept track of how old I was because I was as old as the Super Bowl.

He was the kind of man who called you “Hon,” not in a condescending way, but in a warm, protective way. If he didn’t call you Hon, he didn’t like you. My childhood friends would remind me of what an important person Dad was in their lives in their on-line guestbook signings after his obituary was published.

In the hospital, he was tired a lot since his heart was only functioning at 30%, and failing. He was usually asleep when I visited. I wouldn’t wake him. I would wait for him to wake up, and in the meantime, I watched him sleep. He tossed and turned, certainly uncomfortable with all that pressure crushing against his heart. I watched him fight a war with Death in his sleep. Perhaps the Heavenly Hands reached down to him the night of the Visit, but he wasn’t ready to go yet.

I watched this war wage on for weeks. It broke my heart to see his health going downhill. I would have given anything to be able to make him well, but I knew his battle was almost over. I sensed that he struggled with the unknown and dying, and that I needed to help.

The evening after the Visit, I did the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and prayed that if my dad was not going to get better, that he be taken Home soon. I loved him so much and I couldn’t believe I was asking God to take him away, but I knew it was the best thing I could do for him. I was on my knees at the side of my bed feeling like I was betraying Dad somehow by asking for his physical death. I sobbed so hard, I think I wanted him to feel my apologetic pain pulling at his heart strings.

I was given four more days with him. As we surrounded his hospital bed after he passed, I wasn’t overwhelmed and in disbelief like others were. He lay on the bed with the plastic airway contraption still holding his mouth open from the failed resuscitation efforts. He was no longer struggling for his breath, or exhausted from the smallest movement. He was at peace, and so was I.

I don’t know who the man in the black suit was who allowed me to be part of his Visit to my dad, but I am grateful for the insight he gave me. I was called on to do the worst thing I could imagine and I did it. I don’t know how I would feel if I had simply kept vigil at Dad’s bedside until he passed, without assisting him, which is what I believe I did. I am certain I would not know the peace I had, but would be engulfed in sorrow.

Instead, I imagined with amusement what his reaction was at the heavenly surprise of slipping out of the grip of his physical limitations into the Ever After.

Brenda Tadych is a freelance writer residing in Middletown, Pennsylvania. Early this year, she was released from Corporate America, and is eternally grateful for the Inner Artist that was set free at the same time, now writing on a regular basis. She can be contacted at sumthin2say@hotmail.com.

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