So if I sounded a little crabby in my last post, it was simply exhaustion from the road and not because of anything that happened while on the trip. It was a great time. I tried to take as many pictures as possible of the places and things, to help remember, but the greatest gifts were relational and those moments I couldn't catch with my camera.
Like hearing my father say "Merry Christmas".
When the doctors told me to say my goodbyes back on November 11th-- Veteran's Day-- I thought for sure it was the last holiday we would see together. I thought it fitting that a man so dedicated to his country, a veteran himself, would pass on a day honoring those like him who have passed on before.
But it wasn't to be.
I mean everyone at the hospital was so positive that he was in his last hours. He had started the "death rattle", they said, a sure sign of the end. Completely unresponsive. The Red Cross flew my Sister-in-Law in from Iraq on emergency leave to be with the rest of the family during this time. They had moved Dad to a private room and made sure we knew exactly who to call when the final moment came.
My prayers for him during this time were always for comfort and a peaceful transition-- an end to his pain. My prayers for miraculous healing or recovery seemed cruel.
Which is why standing next to his bed at Christmas and hearing him say "I love you" and having him gently kiss my hand was the most precious and unexpected gift of all.
God's ways and His timing are perfect. I am continually baffled at how poor I am at guessing what He's up to sometimes. I am just thankful for this opportunity and for this-- the second-greatest Christmas gift He's ever given me.