I was holding his hands
by Lance Gargus
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This post was written the night before Autumn's Birthday. This is her first B-day without her Papaw. But she knows who he is with and that he's watching her.
My father had been in ICU for about a week. His oxygen levels were hard to stabilize and his CO2 levels were becoming dangerously high. The human body can only handle so much pure oxygen. The CO2 is the by product and if it can't all be expelled it builds up in the body like a poison. So unknown to us the doctor had decided to put dad on a respirator. But not the kind you have seen with the tube. This one had a mask with leather straps to the face. It looked like a medieval torture device. It shoved air into the lungs and then sucked it back out. Like inflating and deflating a tire and quite torturous. We come into the room to discover my Dad strapped into this device. He was in alot of pain from the look on his face. The air was blasting his face as it went into his lungs. And then a sucking sound like a gigantic vacuum cleaner as it pulled it back out. It was suppose to be breathing for him. But his oxygen levels were dropping all the way to 20%. He was very conscious and not sedated a bit. He was coherent and could speak. He knew what was going on around him. But strangely he seemed not to be here once his oxygen started dropping. He was getting as close to near death as you could get without dying. He sit up there in his bed with the look on his face of someone here but not here. He held his arms straight out and palms down like his hands was in someone else's.
This continued on for 3 or 4 hours of heart wrenching moments. My mother was very distraught, and we did our best to comfort her while trying to keep it together ourselves. It was painful to watch. He had always been her rock to lean on. Now he was leaning on The Rock of Ages.
The time, finally, came to take him off the respirator. The lung doctor informed that they felt so sorry for him .That they came to the decision to rotate him off of the machine every couple of hours. This would give him some relieve from the pain. The device would not extend his life any longer we were informed cause of his failing health. Dad knew this and let the doctor know he didn't want back on the machine anymore. He had to whisper this to him for he was exhausted. He wanted to be able to talk and communicate with us to the end. He had so much on his heart he wanted to say. He wanted to get it all out. In doing so he let us have insight into what he was seeing.
He asked for Brother Fate, our pastor and friend of the family, to come talk to him. There was something very important that had to be said. The pastor ship was rotated among the elders so the burden didn't fall on one person. My dad had instilled the pastor ship onto him when he could no longer handle the duties. But as an elder he was there as an advisor. Bro. Fate came into the room and, he pulled himself up very weakly. He was a very independent man and a fighter. He found his strength in his belief. He whispered into Bro. Fate's ear something so low I could scarce hear anything over all the equipment. Then he collapsed back into bed with a big smile on his face. He had a peaceful look and a sort of reassurance. We got Bro. Fate to come out into the hall to let dad rest and tell us what he had said. He just smirked like he had heard something unbelievable. "What did he say?" we all inquired. "He said they had tried to smother him to death with the respirator. But he was outside his body. He was in heaven. It was a wonderful and amazing place. He was holding our Master's hands while he was going through this but God had sent him back for some important reason," he relayed to us with much joy. I didn't what to say. This was all so hard to watch and witness.
My father was a man just like any of us. But every time he got sidetracked or found himself in some unfamiliar territory his mother's faith she taught him brought him back. He believed in holding on to Him when the dark hours came. My faith I wish was as strong. Lord help my lack of faith. As I write these things I go back and seem more confused as I struggle with my soul searching of who I am and who I am suppose to be.
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