Sarah, Hopefully

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Just in time

I was meant to come home early. I am positive of that now.

Last night I was up until 2 am packing. I slept until 3:45. The taxi came at 4:30, I was at the airport by 5, and by 5:30 I was all ready to board my 7:10 flight. I ate a bagel and cream cheese on the airplane and drank REAL orange juice, went through customs and such at the Houston airport, and almost missed my flight to northwest Arkansas. I slept on the second plane, and when I saw my parents in the airport we all cried. We ate lunch at Applebee's and I had a really good steak.

We drove an hour north to Neosho, Missouri, to the hospital there. My dad had warned me of what to expect. My grandfather had not been very responsive to people over the last couple of days. He isn't talking anymore. He lies in bed wearing almost nothing because he keeps getting fevers that overheat him. There is lots of family in and out all the time. My Aunt Jackie is a nurse and she has been by his side almost constantly, making sure he gets what he needs and explaining everything to the rest of the family. My grandma is always there. My other aunts are in and out, battling off and on spouts of emotion. Everyone is tired. No one has had a full night's sleep in a few days. They just catch a few hours when they can... no one wants to risk missing the last moments.

This man... A husband, a father, a stepfather, a grandfather, a great grandfather... he is dying. From one man have come so many children, so many babies, so much joy and laughter and love. I love this family so much... and every one of us can be traced back to him. Grandpa Rooster. How can I say goodbye? How can I bear to see him so weak, in so much pain, so close to the end? But I do it.

I said hi to him, but didn't get much response. Grandma told him how I had come back from Mexico to see him... I kissed him on his bald head and held his hand for a while. More family came... I went into an extra room the the hospital has provided to the family and took a couple of hours of naptime. My mom bought me a real coke and some real cheese doritos... I went back into his room. More people were there... more aunts and uncles and cousins. I went over to speak to him again. Grandma said that he was really seeing people, so I put my face down right next to his and told him how much I loved him and how happy I was to see him. He WINKED at me. Grandpa's wink. The same wink my dad gives. Grandma told him again how I came back from Mexico this morning just to see him. And then... something amazing happened. He raised his free arm and gave me a hug. More response than he has shown in two days. To me.

Aaaah... so many tears today. So many prayers... so many stories. We all know this is the end... we are all waiting. My mom and I are here at my aunt's house to sleep, but my dad, who already looks exhausted, is back at the hospital... waiting.

It was worth it. It was worth all the rushing around this week, getting no sleep, having a headache all morning, sitting in the hospital eating pizza and talking to relatives who look half like zombies. I am so glad that I came home. He isn't going to last much longer. Most likely not another week. I needed to come home. Getting that hug from him... having him be so happy that I was there... it makes it worth all the trouble.

One of the greatest and most important men in my life is dying... but I am here. I am where I need to be.


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