A very wise friend texted me the following when my Dad was in the ICU. “I can’t imagine what you are going through but am so glad your arms aren’t in casts (because of the move I had postponed 2 upcoming surgeries that will immobilize each arm from the shoulder down for 6 weeks), that you have the house decision made (we had found and made an offer on a condo in Chicago the previous week), and that you can be there with your parents (because of the move I had nothing on my calendar and could be in Iowa for 10 days). I am praying for you (what a comfort when things are tough).”

And suddenly what felt like the worse possible timing for all of this to happen took on a completely new perspective. I was in a place where I was overwhelmed and could only see the negative in all the hard things that were happening around me. Her words helped me gain a new perspective when I could not find one myself.

Looking back, I can see God at work in so many ways through those difficult days leading up to and following my Dad’s death, and I am thankful. For reliable cars that drove us the 85 miles back and forth to my parent’s home. For $20 hospital rooms that we could rent when we needed to stay overnight. For a cousin who sat and read a Western one night to my Dad when he did not want to be alone. For a nephew and his wife who brought a meal to the hospital and gave me a break and some much-needed hugs. For friends who called, and texted, and prayed and then prayed some more.

For an especially lucid moment for my Dad where he could clearly tell his medical team that he wanted to move from aggressive care (keeping him alive) to comfort care (passing peacefully). To the chaplain who visited us in the middle of the night to pray with us and for my Dad. He wanted to make sure we understood the final gift Dad had given us in clearly making his wishes known. As a hospital chaplain he told us he has witnessed too many families torn apart when they have to make that decision for a loved one themselves.

I am thankful for the care that my Dad received not just during this hospital stay but for all the hospital stays before this one (and there were many) that allowed him to live to the age of 76. I am thankful that he was conscious this time and able to do a little communicating with us up until the day before his death.

And thankful seems too small a word to describe how it felt to be able to be there with him when he died.

I am thankful for so many things following my Dad’s death. A united front as a family making the arrangements. The funeral home, the flowers, the service, the military honors, the beautiful spring day, the burial. And the people, so many people, who drove from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Oklahoma to pay their respects. For the people who brought meals and sent cards and dropped by the house. And right now, for the people who continue to love on my family and myself as we continue to grieve our loss.

Precious Father – Thank you for all that I have written and so much more. Amen.