Our Five Ring Circus: Goodbyes

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Reality has hit our family hard.  My father-in-law has been declining rapidly and is down to his last few days with us.

I struggle to find words.  Last night, I sat at my computer, staring at a blank post, with tears running down my face.  It remained blank until now.  This entire experience feels very surreal.

I had been holding it together up until yesterday.  I only cried when the kids couldn't see.  A busy life with three children is a good distraction. Our lives go on as usual.  However, in a situation like this, life feels normal, but the sadness and pain is always there. 

Yesterday? I lost all control of my emotions. The tears welled up when Grant called to tell me that we were down to the last few days.  I couldn't hide my pain from the kids anymore.  Lexie and I sat across from each other in silence, tears filling our eyes, and sliding down our cheeks.  It was the first time Lexie had cried during this whole experience. Seeing her bottom lip sticking out and the tears running down her cheeks broke my heart.

Later, when we walked into Grant's Nannie's house, she was crying as she greeted us.  I can't even imagine the pain she feels while watching her baby die.  My kids have never seen her cry.  She hugged them tight and just held on.  Lexie looked up at her and began sobbing.  What was supposed to be a bathroom break turned into a sobbing, group hug.

Honestly, you can't really understand the hospice experience until you live it.  Grant's dad went from just being sick to dying so rapidly.  Watching this happen is heart-breaking.  My heart has broken a thousand times over the past week.

When you are in the process of losing a loved one while you have children, the pain is intensified.  Not only are you hurting for yourself and those around you, but you hurt even more for your children.   My heart breaks when I think of the loss Dylan, Lexie, and Lily are about to experience.  It is awful to see your kids hurting, especially when you can't do anything to take that pain away. Lexie just keeps saying, "I want PapPap to get better," and it's awful telling her that he won't. This entire experience has chipped away at their innocence and I HATE that.

Dylan, Lexie, and Lily have said their goodbyes to their PapPap. They spent a lot of time at PapPap's house over the past week.  We acted like it was just normal visits.  Normal, though?  Not quite.  It's hard to pretend with him in a hospital bed in the corner of the room.

Their last real interactions with him were over a week ago.  Since then, he has been asleep. He can't walk or stand, he hasn't had anything to eat, he barely drinks, and his breathing is slowing.  He can't even talk, other than an occasional mumble that is hard to translate.  When he wakes up, he isn't really awake.  His eyes only half open and they are glazed over.

The interactions between him and the kids over the past week have been brief and silent.  We kept the visits as normal as possible.  Dylan and Lexie talked to their PapPap, held his hand, and high-fived him.  They were so sweet, loving,  and gentle with him. They always kissed his hand or cheek before leaving.

Sweet Lily has no clue what was going on.  She just knows it is her PapPap sleeping in the room, and she constantly runs to his bed, pointing at him, saying, "PapPap.  PapPap."

The first day he was out of it, I took Lily to his bedside, and she reached out and grabbed his hand.  For several moments, she stroked his fingers, while he stared at her, with tears in his eyes.  It was painfully beautiful.  That moment will be in my mind forever.

Since then, his eyes would lock on Lily when the kids were there.  He would glance at Dylan and Lexie while they held his hand, but he would search for Lily, find her, and stare at her.  He can't communicate, and I find myself wondering why he's so drawn to her and what he's thinking.

Last night, we took the kids to visit him for what was probably the last time.  I couldn't even watch.  I stared at the ground crying, as Dylan and Lexie stood beside him and talked to him.  When I looked up, he was staring at Lily again.  Their last visit was brief, and they don't understand why they can't see him again.

The kids didn't really say goodbye, which is perfectly fine.  They may not see him again, but their PapPap will always be with them and always be a part of them.

Unfortunately, this is our reality right now. 

Our emotions are no longer hidden. This is it. We are down to the final moments, we are all emotionally exhausted, we are praying fervently, and we are clinging to the last bit of strength we have left.

The reality is, sometime in the next few days, we are going to have to say our final goodbye. 


  1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear this, Stefanie! It's always such a hard situation . I am praying for you all.

  2. My dear sweet friend, tears are rolling down my cheek now for the pain you all are feeling. I am so incredibly sorry this is happening, and I'll be thinking of you and praying for you at this incredibly difficult time. (((hugs)))

  3. I don't know what to say. I know there really aren't any words that can make this situation any better. I am so sorry! :( Please know you are all in my thoughts & prayers.

  4. I'm so sorry your family is experiencing such pain. I am praying for you now, for your peace.


  5. My thoughts and prayers (through my tears and sad heart) are with you and the entire family. It is never, ever easy to watch a loved on pass. And you are so right in that you wish your kids didn't have to feel such sadness. {{{hugs}}}

  6. Oh sweet girl! I'll be praying for you and your precious family! Sending big HUGS your way!!

  7. XOXXO wish I could give you a real hug, but this will have to do. I'm so sorry, words cannot express my sadness for you and your family.

  8. I can feel the heartbreak in your words, my thoughts are with you. May you continue to feel his love long after he has left this earth.

  9. I'm so sorry. Wish I could do something to make you all feel better. Know that I'm thinking of you and your family.

  10. I am SO sorry you all have to go through this difficult situation!! I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers!

  11. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  12. Hospice is the hardest thing and you are right, you just do not know how hard it is until you go through it. The nurses that choose that path for their life's work are angels.

    We love you guys. We will continue to think and pray for peace for you all knowing that he is now at peace.

  13. Stef, I know no words can help or heal you at this hard time. Continued prayers for you all, I am here is you need anything, Love you friend.

  14. I have been reading all of your posts, and I am so sorry for the pain your family is going through. I can't even imagine how hard this must be for all of you.

    When my dad passed in 2010, we didn't get to say goodbye. It was sudden and unexpected. I would have given anything to be able to say goodbye to my dad, so while it is painful for you and your family, I think that being able to spend these final days with him will be good for you all after it is over.

    I really suck with words at times like this, but if you need anything, or just want to talk during this difficult time, just know I'm only an email away...

  15. I know how hard it is to see the world go on normally as you stop for days of pain. I'm so sad for you and your family as you go through this but glad you had those final moments you wished for. Love you all.

  16. I am so sorry to hear this sissy! I maybe late but my thoughts and prayers are with your family. hugs!



I love hearing from you! Let's chat!!!