“It seems like this should be a happy occasion,” she said.
True. Just about any other day, if you saw a bunch of cars at Nana and Papa’s house, you would expect to find a holiday or birthday celebration. And while we still found music, plenty of food, and the ever-present boisterous (read: LOUD) conversations, this was a different kind of celebration.
Today, we gathered to honor Papa, Brett's dad. His battle with pancreatic cancer is nearing its end, and we know it won't be long before he passes from this life. In-home hospice care started Friday, and today, his condition took a turn. We all came together, afraid to miss our last chance to say goodbye.
It's a wonder that I was free to join them there. For once, I'm thankful that I woke up with an upset stomach! This morning, after showering and getting dressed, I realized I was in no condition to teach. I requested a sub, grabbed the saltines, and headed to school to get some materials together. Ryan also woke up sick, so he missed school today, too. After some antacids and a good, long nap, I felt much better and Ryan was managing, so we headed to Nana and Papa's for a visit.
We were about 5 minutes away when Brett texted us to let us know Papa's condition had changed. Our planned stop at Sonic could wait; we made a bee-line to their house. When we arrived, the living room was awash in love. Around Papa's hospital bed were Nana and all three of his children. Our niece from Austin was there with her little boy, too. We took turns holding Papa's hands, hugging and kissing him, telling him how much we love him.
A little later, scared to wait too long, I picked Katie up from school an hour early. By the time we got to Nana and Papa's, the driveway was full and the house was bustling. We quickly learned that Papa was rallying, opening his eyes more and talking a little bit. The frantic "This is it" gave way, and our calmer vigil resumed.
Still, we know it won't be long. This isn't the end of Papa's story, but here in this space where life yields to death, we cling to our memories, tell the old stories, and shower Papa with love. As Kelly said in an email to family, this is holy ground. We are honored to share these moments, to participate in this ritual, as Papa finishes his race.
And we are blessed beyond measure by this amazing man's life and legacy.