As I mentioned in my previous post, my Dad has been in the hospital since Christmas Eve. Last weekend he went into ICU. Then bounced back and got out of ICU. Now he’s back in ICU.

The head nurse said his breathing was a certain type of shallow that’s consistent with what she thought, in her experience, might be a signal toward the end. She recommended that family from out of town might want to consider making their way into town.

So I’m getting ready to make the drive. Packing. Again, actually. I made this same drive last weekend too. All was going downhill fast, and I saw him in a bad state. And then the next day he was relatively fine. We were joking around in ICU. This time seems more serious.

But apparently no one tells you how to pack for such trips. Am I supposed to bring a suit for a funeral? Or a toga for a party? So far, I’m stuck at clean underwear and a toothbrush.

If it is time for him to pass on, what’s the protocol for how long until the funeral? And where’s the “Death for Dummies” book for all this?

I know this sounds terribly morbid and all. And part of me feels guilty for even writing publicly about this. It’s my father. I’m very sad.

But there’s a practical side to all this. And in fact, I think my Dad would be thinking the same sort of way. He’d be the first one to crack some irreverent joke.

He’d also be the first one to start packing if it were me in ICU. Of course, he’d also probably just pack clean underwear and a toothbrush.

Because he knows it’s not the ‘stuff’ that matters.

13 Responses

  1. Very nice post. I absolutely appreciate this website.
    Continue the good work!

  2. I leave a comment when I like a post on a site
    or if I have something to contribute to the conversation.
    It’s a result of the passion communicated in the article I browsed. And after this article Packing | The Agnostic Pentecostal. I was excited enough to post a comment 😛 I do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Is it only me or does it look as if like some of these comments appear like coming from brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are posting on other sites, I would like to keep up with you. Would you list the complete urls of your social pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  3. Konkurrence…

    […]Packing « The Agnostic Pentecostal[…]…

  4. Hello my friend,
    you know you guys are in my hearts pocket on the IProd Prayer List thingy. this shit ain’t easy.. been there. love you dear one. please call if you need anything. xcat

  5. Thinking of you, Dave. It’s a tricky situation and you are doing your best. My partner, Happygirl, knows what it’s like as she had to fly down every two weeks and sometimes more often when her father was seriously ill.

  6. Thank you everyone, so much, for you gracious thoughts.

    Thanks for your perspective, Keith. Much appreciated, and Aunt Ranie and everyone else.

    And Laura, I really appreciate you sharing your experience with the “rallies.” In fact, it turns out I still haven’t left yet. Because Dad is better. Again.

    I’m just playing it day by day. Actually, hour by hour…literally…I get updates from family with each ICU visiting hour timeframe, every three hours or so.

    Thanks again everyone. This is a roller coaster. I’m just along for the ride.

  7. There are no rules: just move forward. It’s that simple & it’s that hard. It’s your Dad.

  8. What a sad and profound time. As a home hospice RN I have seen many families in just this situation. The grace and honesty with which you’ve communicated here tells me you will navigate these waters well. Not without getting wet — maybe even not without going overboard…but you’ll come through, and I pray you and your dad can stay at peace.

  9. No there isn’t a book that tells you what to do or how you should act. Just follow the heart and what you think your dad would want.

  10. Its never easy. We just went thru all this with Uncle Howie’s dad. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Follow your heart. We love you and wil be thinking of you all.

  11. You’ve painted such a vivid picture of the space you’re in. I went through it all 14 months ago, and I remember when my mom “rallied.” She had been in bed, semi-lucid, for days. I went out of the room to get something and came back to find her sitting in a chair (which was very surprising because she needed help to get to the bathroom.) “Mom!” I said. “How did you get over there?” “I did it myself,” she said, proudly. And for the next little bit I sat on the side of the bed and talked to my mom again – not the sick, deteriorating, out-of-her-mind-on-painkillers mom, but the one I knew and loved before the cancer set in. It was so strange… she was clear-headed, strong, articulate and could’ve convinced anyone she had merely just gotten up from a nap (rather than having been bedridden with cancer.) But within a few hours the illness took over again and that mom had left the building.

    I am so sorry you’re walking through this Dave; such a difficult journey. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  12. It’s a very difficult situation. Wishing you and yours all the best.

  13. Wish you peace in your confusion and sadness

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