Today as I was disinfecting the groceries I brought home, I felt like I was about to crack. My phone was beeping with several text messages and it was just too much for me at the time. I rarely feel this way and today was probably the worst ever in my life. I felt like running away, asking to be released from being RS President, ignoring my extended family. But I knew there was a better answer. I went to my room, knelt down in prayer and poured my heart to Heavenly Father. I asked Him to bless me with patience, wisdom, long-suffering, love and to take that feeling away from me. I also asked Him to bless my extended family with love and compassion for each other. Have I ever mentioned the power of prayer? It works. It's like a dark cloud disappeared and what I'm seeing is exactly what I asked.
Dad came to live with me in Texas on March 10, 2020. That was the first very hard decision I had to make. I knew it would change my life and my family's and it was going to be hard. I also knew that I'd be breaking my younger sister's heart (he was living with her), and I didn't want that. But I knew I had to bring dad here. My other sisters gave me full support.
Taking care of him was the most special privilege I've ever had. My home became sacred. I didn't feel alone as I took care of him (was my mom with me?) He couldn't do much for himself and was almost like an infant. I changed his diapers, gave him showers, fed him, gave him medications seven times a day, took him to doctor appointments almost every day, gave him attention. It seems hard, but the burden felt light. He often apologized to me for giving me so much work, but it didn't feel that way. I always replied, "dad, you took care of me when I was little, now it's my turn to take care of you. You're my baby now." He would smile at that and whenever he needed something, he would say, "because I'm your baby". I tucked him in bed every night, gave him a kiss on the head and prayed with him. Those moments were so special. He would tell me he loved me and that I was a very good daughter and that he was very grateful for all I was doing. I'd leave his room holding back tears as I knew those moments wouldn't last long.
I was very hopeful dad would become healthy again. I had faith the surgeon would remove the tumor in his sigmoid colon and possibly liver (he had a tumor there too, but it ended up being too dangerous to remove) and he'd come home. I had plans to take him to the gym to do water aerobics, to walk with him outside everyday, to help him become so strong that he wouldn't need much help from me anymore. But Heavenly Father had other plans. When I was waiting for him in the hospital during his first surgery, I had two sacred dreams. I won't say what they were, but they told me two things, first, that my mom was with him. Second, that whatever happened to him, live or die, that it'd be his choice. Dad was recovering well in the hospital, but then he had a rupture in another part of his intestines (the small intestines this time). He went in for emergency surgery. It went well, but dad couldn't really recover from it. His vitals declined fast. I couldn't be with him at the hospital because of COVID-19. This made it super hard for me and my sisters. I took him his Facebook portal (camera device) to him and the nurses would let us see and talk to him. But after the second surgery, he never got conscious to talk.
The night before April 9th, I couldn't sleep. I had the feeling that dad was about to pass away. I prayed all night and asked Heavenly Father to let him know that he could go in peace, that we would all be ok and we wanted him to rest. I also promised him I'd help a person that he was very worried about. It was a hard night. At 4am, the hospital called and told me that dad was already brain dead and to go be with him as soon as I could. They said that it was best to turn off the machines ad let him go in peace. I called his surgeon and asked him if he thought that was best too. He told me the same thing, that there was no turning back or leaving the hospital. He wouldn't live. He was brain dead. Marco drove me there, but they didn't let him in, just me. Dad looked peaceful and had no signs of struggle. He was sleeping very peacefully. I hugged him, kissed him and said my goodbyes. Then I called each sister through Facetime and let them say their goodbyes. This took a long time. I wasn't able to get hold of them right away. When it was close to seven, I told the nurse that he was ready. They turned off the ventilator at 7:07 am and dad was pronounced dead at 7:14am. It was very hard. I felt alone and I struggled to lose him.
Today it's been exactly two weeks. Last week, on Wednesday, we had his funeral. It was in Utah. We got unified as a family and made a beautiful ceremony through video. The apostle, Elder Soares, gave a a beautiful talk at the end (he's a friend of our family). I felt a lot of peace and reassurance that dad really liked it.
It's been hard. I miss him a lot. I've received a lot of love from family and friends though. I've gotten flowers, cards, messages in chalk in my driveway, dinners, texts, treats... I'm very grateful for so much love. It's helping me immensely! I know he's in a better place and is happy with my mom.
After praying this afternoon, I feel renewed. I can keep dealing with the challenges that arise everyday. "I can do all things in Christ, which strengtheneth me."