Death from the Inside Out
A birthday to remember. Today we visited my father for his birthday. Before we even started the engine of the car to drive to the hospital where my father resides, everything inside of me was trembling. Not for any reason that I could figure out. It is usually a combination of things, excitement, fear, anxiety, and anxiousness. But today it was way worst than I have ever felt it.
Upon arrival we prepared dad’s gifts and cake on the table, summoned the nurse to bring him out and got ready for the big reveal! We were met with tears of joy that we were there, but what soon followed was the unexpected part. My father quickly pulled us aside, and in his quietest voice whispered, they are abusing me. He pulled up his shirt sleeve to reveal a large bruise and a scratch that went the entire length of his arm. He went on to tell us that the nurses “abuse him”….they won’t let him walk, restrict him to a wheelchair, they watch him 24 hours a day, and he has no privacy, they curse, and tell him what to do.
After this we talked to the social worker over my fathers ward. The social worker filled us in that the bruise on his arm was from a nurse having to restrict him from doing certain actions that would have harmed him, and him not listening. The scratch down the length of his arm, was SELF-inflicted after he learned we were there (in hopes that we would feel bad enough for him to take him home with us).
When it came time for us to leave, my father went into a mode of desperation. He was desperate for us to take him with us, home. He told me, his son, looking directly into my eyes that he would kill himself if we did not take him home with us.
Part of me thinks it was just a cry of desperation for us to take him home with us. In his mind, the nurse that stays with him 24 hours a day is a invasion of his privacy, even though we know it is for his own good. We know that the pureed food that he has to eat is so that he won’t choke on his food, he sees it as a form of punishment. We know that him being restricted to a wheelchair is so he will not fall and hurt himself because his illness has taken away all of his sense of balance, and coordination.
The other part of me died inside. My father has always held onto an insane amount of hope. Hope in things of this world (like him inheriting millions from the losers who run the scams via email in Nigeria), to hope in our God. Today, I saw part of that hope disappear.
How do you tell a person you love “it will be ok” when they are in a place that you know, it will never be “ok” for them? How do you tell him that “its going to get better” when you know it’s only going to get worst? How do you tell your father not to take his own life, that their is something better waiting for him, when you don’t know that? I found myself lying to him and to myself. He knew it, and I knew it. I told him “everything will be ok” even though I did not believe that.
Before we left the hospital, I prayed over my father. We circled as a family, and prayed. This was the first time he asked me to pray for us. Usually when we leave, he circles us up, and he mumbles out prayers. Today, I prayed, through my tears, through all of my emotions, I had to pray. Yes…had too. I had nothing left in me. During the prayer I remembered that our faith, and our hope is not in things of this world, but in a Father who loves us, and will take care of us, no matter the circumstance. For now, I am barely hanging on, but I know my Father is hanging on to me.