As I sit in my dad’s hospital room I remember the memories of my childhood.
I recall sitting in the car and peering at the high school on the first day of school, it was like a small city, which contained 3,000 students.
I remember watching the students with their backpacks on, getting off their buses and filing into school. I remember feeling overwhelmed with fear and resisting getting out of the car, hesitant for what high school would bring.
My dad smiled at me, sadly. In that moment, I wanted to stay his little girl. I wanted to curl up in his strong arms and embrace his warmth and protection.
He coaxed me to walk into school, explaining that everything is difficult before you learn something for the first time. Before I knew it, I would learn the school like the back of my hand. He told me that I would make friends and that everything would be ok. He was right.
I didn’t want to leave him behind because I wasn’t sure of the next steps that would follow; but I had to let go of my dad’s strong embrace. With a quiver in my lip and a lump in my throat, I forced myself to walk into school.
My dad was always there for me, encouraging me, bringing out the best in me, protecting me as best as he could.
I learned at a young age that these are the moments of darkness when faith is pivotal. We take the first steps without knowing where they will lead. We trust that Jesus will embrace us on the journey.
Fast forward 20 years- I am now 35 years old. A wife. A mother. A teacher. I sit in my dad’s hospital room, clinging to him as he awaits heart and liver transplants.
It is not easy to see him meek, vulnerable, aged. The once proud and masculine man has given into aging due to the weight of his health condition, but we anticipate him to be revitalized after he obtains his new and precious organs.
My dad and I make quiet conversation, trying to pass the time. I dote on him and try to make his stay as comfortable as possible, remembering how he restlessly took care of me as a child: taking me to school, making me breakfast, helping me with my math homework.
I remember the funny moments too, like when my sisters and I were arguing as teenagers, and he entered the room at precisely the wrong time, right when the tension was mounting. We pulled him into the argument, and within moments, he innocently became the victim. He decided to quietly leave the room, hopefully less visible then how he entered it.
As we sit there, I try to reciprocate the encouragement that he unconditionally has given to me throughout my life, speaking to him about Jesus and how he is with us, especially in our suffering. I tell him that everything will be ok.
As I sit, I listen to the heart monitor and watch the line graph go up and down and up and down again. It is quiet and peaceful.
It is time for me to leave him and go home. I embrace my dad and then I am forced to let go of his embrace, until another long week passes when I get to return.
The commute is difficult, traveling back and forth to visit him in the hospital from Wisconsin to Chicago. I longlgly wish I could do more to support him, to protect him like he always protected me.
For a moment, I consciously let go of all control and mumble a quiet prayer to Jesus about taking care of my dad when I am not there.
I am forced to walk into the darkness and depend on my faith, again. Questions arise in my mind like: Will my dad be alight? Will he get a heart and liver? Will he have a healthy recovery?
As I drive home on the dark road up ahead, I am forced to let go and trust Jesus. He is my father and my dad’s father too, and I know, he is keeping us all in his loving embrace, and no matter what happens, we will never be forced to let go.