Since I last posted about my father in law things have changed tremendously. He had a very rough time last week. He stopped being about to swallow, which meant he couldn't eat or drink. He couldn't really talk and had a hard time breathing. We all knew it wasn't going to end good. We had to make decisions on what to do. Do we take extensive measures to try and keep him alive? Or do we let him go? We chose the later. We knew he wouldn't want to live with no quality of life, so we let him go.
Even in his state he found a way to say good bye to us all. For Jerry, he outstretched his arm to try and hug him. Jerry took that hug and squeezed his hand as well. For the kids, he said "bye Chris" and "bye Emily" very loudly the last time they saw him in the hospital. For me, I was sitting next to his bed and got up to go to work. He said "bye" really loud, which was crazy because he hadn't been able to talk in awhile. We all jumped and my brother in law Jim asked if he had just said bye to me. I walked over, grabbed his hand and said bye. He squeezed my hand and sort of smiled, then said "bye" again. I leaned down to give him a hug and told him I loved him. Then I went to work. That was the last time I ever saw him alive. I truly believe he knew he would be leaving us and made sure each one of us had our goodbye with him.
The funeral itself was the most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of. My mother in law, Judy, asked me to pick out the music and make it different then the normal funeral fare. I picked some great hymns that I thought really fit the bill. I also offered to play one hymn, of which she picked Ave Maria. Seeing the casket close for the last time was very hard. Just the finality of it I suppose. It will forever be etched in my mind. Since my brother in law, John, is a priest we had a number of his friends there to support him. I am not sure of the final count but I would guess 15 or more. Our priest Fr. Rick from St. Roch's was there to support us as well, which was really nice. As the mass progressed there were times where the sun would come out and shine down on the alter. One time was when the consecration was being started. John was at the alter with the bread and wine and had just started the prayer when the sun came out and shined so brightly. I leaned down and told the kids that Grandpa must me shining down from Heaven! Then it happened a second and third time at different times. Everytime the sun shone I smiled. When I went up to play after Communion I was pretty emotional. I prayed for calm. I prayed for help. My experience has been that when I am nervous or emotional my bottom lip quivers and sweats. That is not good for a flutist! I always power through but am never happy with my performance. Yesterday that didn't happen. My hands were shaking like leafs, but I could still push down the keys. My lip was steady as a rock and my mouth and lip were dry. I felt calm and also had more breath control then I have had in a long time. I have to believe I had help from above. I was told there was not a dry eye left in the church when I was done. I feel like my music is all I have to give, so I am glad I could share that on that special day.
It has been a grueling two weeks but it was filled with love and laughter as well. We spent our time together and feel we did all we could for my father in law, John. There are no regrets and there are no more tears. We left yesterday filled with joy and happiness, knowing he went to Heaven and is with Jesus. He told us he saw Jesus, so we know that is where he is. What a comforting thought! He will be deeply missed, and the hard times are still yet to come, but I know he is happy and not hurting or confused anymore. We will see him again someday!
Thank you to anyone who reached out to me in the last two weeks. Whether it was an email, a text, a chat on FB, a phone call or a visit at the funeral home or funeral it all meant a lot to me and made this experience so much easier. I love you all!!