My father is dying. He was diagnosed with an atypical meningioma (Brain Tumour) nearly 9 years ago, and after two operations to remove the tumor and one bout of radiotherapy, the tumor is now inoperable and there is nothing more to be done. He will die; no-one knows when or how long it will take or even what his deterioration will look like. So we wait. It has been a long journey. Originally one of hope, now one of acceptance of the inevitable.
We have known that he may die for some time, but when we heard the finality of the decision from the doctors, it was hard to get our heads around. We cried… we prayed… we cried some more…
My dad is now unable to do many of the things that he loved and enjoyed: gardening, mountaineering, drinking whiskey. He has gone from using a walking stick, to a walker, to a wheelchair. Now he lies in bed unable to sit up. His sight is going. He is confused and disorientated. He is in pain. We feel helpless.
The hardest part for me as a Christian, and as a convert from Church of Scotland to New Church, is that I have no idea whether my dad believes in God or not.
However, I find solace in Psalms and from other peoples stories from similar situations within the New Church. I hope to share some of these with him, including these passages:
“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart, wait I say on the Lord” (Psalm 27: 14).
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27: 1)
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23: 1-3)
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23: 4)
These scripture passages inspire me to be courageous, to trust in the Lord, yet how can I be courageous?
As my dad’s natural body deteriorates, I am not sure about his spirituality. We are in a state of sadness. I feel a depth of sadness I have not experienced before.
I need to be there for my mum and support her through the difficult time ahead. Difficult decisions that have to be made, dealing with my dad’s own fears, her own grief at his deterioration and her guilt at her own feeling that she wishes that he would leave sooner rather than later. She doesn’t want to watch him continue to struggle, to be in pain and to have no quality of life.
I pray to the Lord to bring my dad peace— and my mum too (I can see that she is physically and emotionally exhausted). I want him to be free, even if it means letting him go.
My dad and I have not had the easiest of relationships over the years, but as he comes to the end of his life I remember the little things that made me smile. I want to sit with him and talk to him about those and tell him that I have found peace with the rest. I want to tell him that he is loved and that he will be missed and that it is okay for him to go.
I am comforted and feel closer to the Lord by my favorite hymn:
“Humbly, Lord, we ask Thy blessing; keep us, Father, in Thy care. Let Thy grace descend upon us, as we turn to Thee in prayer.”