well, mom, dad, cheryl and i (along with tim) have parted ways for the evening. dad lives on. the doctor who saw him tonight says that his heart rate is quite elevated (now 140 beats per minute rather than 60-100, which is the norm). and that surprisingly, his lungs are now clear (they have been coarse for the past few days). this means that he will likely not end up ending life with a type of "suffocation" death (which, several days ago when his lungs were filling with fluid, the doctor said was likely. He had worked to prepare us, stating that while this type of passing is difficult for bedside loved ones -- the air hunger, the gasping, and the gurgling -- thankfully due to adivan and morphine, it is not typically difficult for the patient.) this doctor was an amazing, unexpected help for each of us tonight. we learned lots of new things, and not once, not twice, but three times he asked us if we had any further questions. to fully appreciate this is to know that mom and i, ever the information seekers, seldom experience this level of patience and investment at the physician level. hospice however...yet another way that these guys break the mold. he took lots of time to fill in our end-of-life knowledge gaps. one of which, the ever-present backdrop priority, is the "when" of it all. in saying we won't likely have more than two or three more days, he gives us the idea that perhaps, in fact, today may not actually be the day after all.
i must admit, i feel almost giddy. first and foremost, sister cheryl is here. the sensation as a little sister that my competent big sis is here to save the day...well it's palpable. and effectively indescribable. she wonders at her inherent "hero status" (simply by stepping off the plane -- but i know as well as anyone that, with 4 growing kids at home, even this thing is no small feat). second, is the sense that i may not need to see my dad strain for his final breaths. (i did see this status for about an hour two days ago, until re-positioning shifted the demand on his lungs.) how it will look, exactly, no one is able to outline...but the idea that we may not have to suffer beside him....well, giddy is really the best word. third and finally, is the sense that i keep getting more time with my dad. still, after all this time, i thrill at the idea of more. Insatiable, i am. well, perhaps this word isn't perfect....but it's close.
jonathan and bethany will be here in the morning. would be strange and wonderful, all of us in the same room, loving our dad, and wishing him well as he enters eternity.
i cannot tell you how hopeful i am that another late night call will not come to us tonight.
thank you again, each of you, for all your kindness and support.
soon we will be living with a dad-gap in our lives, but for now -- we phil bruce kids are gifted with just a little more time.