Nothing Docs Can Do
September 3rd and 4th
The very next day, September 3rd, my family and I were driving out to Phoenix to get some time with Dad. About half way there, Mom and Dad called us on the phone and we answered it on speaker phone. They just had an appointment with the doctor, and with all the strength in his weakened voice, Dad said, “the doctors said there is nothing more they can do for me.”
We felt like we got hit by a truck and thrown clean from the 8 Freeway.
Yet before we could even respond, Dad immediately told us that he has peace and even joy despite this crushing news. He said, "I get to be in the arms of Jesus soon, and see His scars, and I can't wait to meet Him in person."
The bottom line with Dad's condition was that the latest scans revealed that not only has nothing slowed down, but it had very aggressively spread and it had done so incredibly quickly and into other parts of his body. The primary goal now would be to simply make him as comfortable as possible. We had hoped he would get discharged either that day or the next, and from that point on he will receive Home Health Care, until the inevitable day when that shifts to becoming Hospice Care.
The guesstimate at that point was "a few months," though we knew that might be a little optimistic. He said on the phone that living every minute with appreciation and being thankful every day despite his suffering is what he will be focusing on.
Dad never complained the entire 6 weeks of his diagnosis, and that strength to do so didn’t just “happen.” Even here on the phone, after hearing the sentence you always fear to hear, his prayer request for himself that day was that he would just “have a good attitude,” and that he “would be able to focus his mind when things got hard.” When he would struggle with his emotions, he would ask Mom to read from the bible to him, or ask to read “Britni’s Book.” One time while I was visiting, he said to Mom, “I’m losing my focus, can you have Jobe come in and pray for me?”
Dad took this all head on. He was proactive and asked anyone to bring the promises of God to his mind. He now loved hearing from God’s Word and being prayed for, and that is never something I could have said about Dad before August 8th.
It was around this time where the reality and gravity of everything was sinking in more and more.
And I don’t mean about his cancer, nor about his impending death.
Yes, that also was sinking in, but what was sinking in even more, in a very real, unmistakable way, was that my Dad was a new man.
He was transformed. He had been saved. He was born again.
I was talking to Mom, and amidst our own tears of what the future would bring, I said to her, “Mom, this is what we’ve been praying for over the last 20 plus years: for Dad to know Jesus. It’s not the way we would want it to be, but the Lord has said ‘yes’ to our prayers.” We were realizing, also, that God was answering those two specific prayers that we had begun to pray in April, to “draw Mick to You” and “give him a desire for Your Word.”
And both of these had now happened.
At this point, we’d received the most crushing news, yet Dad’s words and his responses, I don’t want to say “made it better,” because it didn’t. He was still dying, and he was still going to die. But his words, and the confidence and conviction and passion of his words, it sort of just took the sting of death away. I said on Caring Bridge at this point that I wish everyone could see it first hand, because it was nothing short of miraculous and, quite frankly, unbelievable. My sadness was now seeping into other realities, and I wrote that specifically I had a deepening sorrow in that he wouldn’t be able to share with everyone personally about everything that had been going on in his heart, and I knew how much he would have loved to.
As we arrived at their house, Dad was still in the hospital, and he wasn’t doing great, strength-wise. That evening, he FaceTimed us from the hospital, and after a little bit of chatting, and him sharing with us his excitement to meet Jesus, he eventually asked me to pray for him.
In that moment, a verse came to mind that I wanted to pray over him.
In 2 Corinthians 4.16 it that says,
"therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
In that moment, I could not find a better verse in the bible that better described Dad. As I prayed, I said, "Lord, I am thankful that though this cancer is quickly wasting away his outer self, his inner self is growing and being renewed with Your Spirit even faster and more aggressively than the cancer is." And I heard Dad make an audible and affirming "mm hmm" in agreement.
Most people in this world can't claim that reality. Most people aim to maintain their physical health, but inwardly their souls aren't growing or thriving, and are actually "wasting away" as 2 Corinthians says. That was Dad before 4 weeks ago. He looked amazing at age 68, healthy (looking) as can be, and an amazing, generous, humble, and kind man, but unbeknownst to him, both his physical and spiritual life was suffering and "wasting away."
But not so any longer. Though his outer self is still wasting away, and was doing so quickly, his inner self was being renewed each and every day, even every moment.
Baptism on the Schedule
After everyone had gone to bed for the night, he texted me from the hospital, and I happened to be out in his studio, just taking in the sight, the smell, the memories, and discovering the hidden treasures on his shelves and his files.
In his text he said, “Did you know you had a baptism on your schedule?” Apparently, he had told Mom that he wanted to be baptized. And once again, this is just another type of event that Dad would never give himself to before. This is something he would have scoffed at, maybe say something like, “well why would I need to do something like that?” An event like this, to have the focus on him…personal and intimate focus on his faith? All eyes on him? The vulnerability?
Never in a million years.
And now he wants it.
The next day, however, he was discharged from the hospital, but when he got home, there weren’t any real celebratory hugs or “welcome home” greetings, because he went straight into his bed, completely depleted. I thought to myself, “there is no way he can get into the pool to be baptized.” The harsh reality began to hit us. It had previously been the plan to have Dad come home to now receive Home Health Care, which eventually would switch to become hospice care as things progressed. However, upon meeting with doctors before being discharged, it was recommended to them that they go straight to Hospice Care.
To be honest, when I saw him that day as he came home, it was obvious that his time was short, and the way he looked, I didn’t think he was going to be able to live even a few more days. We made arrangements that day for my sister and her family as well as my brother and his family to come out the next day so we could all have a day together with Dad.
Part 9: Best Day Ever