Journey into Tranquility

Very long, emotional post about my father's passing.

I am so behind on blogging that it completely overwhelms me, and I'm not even sure how to pick up where I left off at this point.  If I remember correctly, my next post was supposed to be about the fun week I had on the mountain with my parents and my favorite little buddy, my nephew Ian (or Yasha).

As much as I would love to talk about that right now, I have something much heavier on my heart that has happened.  And I'm not sure if I will get all of these days correct because it is all a big blur, and we are all (my family) still playing catch up on our rest!

On Saturday, June 8, I was enjoying my morning when my mom called.  She did not have good news, but nothing too shocking. My dad was not doing well.  He had chemo on Friday, and on Saturday he had fallen upstairs and was running a pretty high fever.  Fever was a typical side-effect of chemo, but it was unusually high.  I spent most of my day Saturday in tears, just not feeling good about the situation, and hearing the worry in my mom's voice, especially when you are 6 hours away, tends to make a daughter a little uneasy!  By Saturday night, she took him to the hospital for fluids.  Some sweet friends came and helped her get him in the car because he was just too weak.  They released him once he got hydrated and a little strength back.

Sunday morning, he was a little better.  Extremely tired and sluggish, but better. When they woke up on Monday, he was confused and a little disoriented.  She called his oncologist immediately, and they recommended bringing him in and they would evaluate him.  His white blood cell count was very high (usually a sign of an infection).  They decided to go ahead and admit him in to the hospital so they could keep an eye on things and see what was going on.  By 1pm that afternoon, I was on the road to Arkansas.

In the hospital, the days were long.  My dad had terrible hiccups, even in his sleep.  He was uncomfortable b/c he was way too big for their bed, and we were all just uneasy because we wanted to know what was wrong and why this sudden, drastic quick change in his mental state.  Our hopes for all of this was that a new medication had caused this confusion and once it got out of his system, things would get better.

Beautiful view out of the hospital window.
My dear friend Kelly sent this gift to our room :)
That chocolate was so good!  We all enjoyed having that around.

Tuesday afternoon my Uncle Jim showed up from Shreveport and by that night my brother Shawn called from DC ready to book his flight out the next morning.

Wednesday afternoon I picked up Shawn from the airport.  By the time that evening rolled around, we were all very anxious to see Dr. Bradford (his local oncologist), knowing the news wasn't going to be what we had hoped for.  It didn't take a doctor to see that my dad was not showing signs of improvement.  At this point, the word hospice was being used.  None of us were in denial, we were all in agreement it was time.  After 3 days in the hospital and no signs of improvement, the doctor talked to us and my dad about getting him somewhere he can be comfortable.

Wednesday night was the hardest, yet easiest thing I have ever done.  I sat by my dad's bedside, held his hand, and through sweet tears, assured him it was ok to go. That we were all going to be ok.  That no daughter has ever felt more loved than I. I told him how loved he was, and thanked him for all he has done for me in my 31 years of life.  He laid there, holding my hand, with the biggest smile on his face. A smile I hadn't seen in a while.  When I told him I loved him, he told me I love you too.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done, telling my father goodbye.  It was the easiest thing I've ever done because our relationship has always been so strong, there was no doubt in my mind the feelings we already knew we had for each other.  I didn't feel as though I had to let him know anything, b/c I know he already knew my feelings.

Thursday morning, Adam and Christy, as well as SP, got into town.  Adam got there just in time to see him at the hospital and be there to assist in getting him moved to Hospice.  So Thursday night was his first night in the beautiful Circle of Life Hospice home in Bentonville.

As the days went on, he was in such a state of peace.  It was so comforting for all of us to see him so peaceful.

Sunday was Father's Day.  We celebrated in true Traylor fashion...mimosas around his bedside, of course!  We even swabbed his mouth with his very own so that he could taste it with us.  At this point, he was in a heavily sedated medical comma. It felt good to wish him a Happy Father's Day and know he felt our presence and heard our voices.  That was very comforting to me. Something I learned during this was that hearing is usually one of the last things someone loses before passing. So we knew he was hearing us, even though not responding.  Later that afternoon, after Adam and Christy headed back to Shreveport, my mom, Shawn and I were sitting in my dad's room when Shawn busted out the guitar.  He began playing a song he had written back when he was 15.  It was always one of my dad's favorites, but one, as SCT got older, didn't like playing too much.  Well, on this day, he played it for my dad.  And would you believe...my dad tapped his hand! It was so, beautifully, amazing. Tear in his eye, and a few hand taps.  Again, he could hear us!

Monday came and went.  No real changes, except a few more signs of nearing the end. It was getting more and more difficult for me to go in the room.  My mom assured me it was okay if I never went in there again.  It felt good hearing her say that, because I was struggling with that.  How could I be there, but not in there.

Monday evening, we were at the house trying to find the key to the gun cabinet!  We never found it, so my uncle and brother busted it instead, ha!  But, that evening, my mom was in the garage, and the rest of us were out back behind the barn.  I looked over and saw the most beautiful rainbow!  I told my uncle to keep an eye on it and not let it go anywhere!  I ran and got my mom to come see!  My mom has always said rainbows are a sign from God, that everything was going to be ok.  We all shed a few tears of joy, knowing no matter what.  We were going to be ok.

Picture doesn't do it justice.  You could see every color, very vividly, and it was the widest rainbow I'd ever seen!

Tuesday morning, I went in to kiss him and say good morning.  It was so hard for me.  I decided I wasn't going back in there.  It wasn't doing me any good.  Tuesday evening, some dear friends in Bentonville, The Reynolds, invited us over for dinner.  Jim knows I love his fried shrimp, so he cooked up 2 dozen for me us :) Before leaving Hospice, my mom and I went in there (yea, I know, I said I wasn't going to - but I couldn't help it!) to kiss him and tell him bye and we'd be back to check on him after dinner.  His hands were frozen cold, which was the first time any of us had felt them that cold.

My mom, Me, Shawn, Anastasia, Uncle Jim

After dinner, we all went back up to see my dad.  I was the last one to enter the room.  As I stood in the doorway, I felt something literally push me in the room. Something unexplainable.  We all circled around him and poured our love all over him, once again.  We left, and all went home.

We made it home around 11 that evening.  Shawn, Anastasia and I were sitting in the living room.  My mom went up to take a shower.  20 mins later, I heard my mom's cell ring.  I answered it.  It was Hospice.

After we left his room Tuesday night, June 18, somewhere between 11-11:30pm, my dad completed his Journey into Tranquility.  Finally, completely at peace.  Shawn and my Uncle met the coroner while my mom, Anastasia and I sat at home, drinking hot tea, and feeling a sense of peace among us.  Shawn and my uncle came back to the house and told us that seeing my dad at that point was the most peaceful either of them had seen him look in a year.  Wow.  That's powerful.

We love you, dad.  You are greatly missed already.  But I know that your spirit lives on in each of us.  And that makes this pain a million times more bearable. Every LSU game, every BBQ, every flea market, every trip to a plant nursery...you will be there.  

This was on my dad's email signature for the longest time:
"A single life is not long enough to know a life's single moment." - Claude Monet

His beautiful urn...


Elizabeth said...

I am so very sorry for your loss! May God wrap his loving arms around you during this difficult time! Please know that you & your family will be in my prayers!

Linda said...

My dear, sweet daughter, this post was absolutely beautifully written and a precious out pouring of the love you shared with your dad. You are right, I feel him all around me and I know he is now able to be with all of us, everywhere, all of the time. My love for him is as big as the universe and I also miss him terribly. The thing that gives me the most joy right now is remembering that he had to have left this world feeling peaceful and loved by so many. What wonderful time was spent with all of you over the past 13 months. We are luckier than many who never get the chance that we got. I love you, Mom