Sometimes When I Think of You

Cindy James Linder

My dad, Billy James, was an ordinary man. He was talented and creative, although that was a side not too many people saw. He was hard-working and despite not always being there for us, provided in the best way he knew how. He was only 62 when he died.

My dad was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis, a heart condition, in March of '92. At that time, the doctors told him if he did not have valve replacement surgery, he would only live two more years . My father had Native American roots and firmly believed that he could not have the surgery. He felt that when it was his time, he would go. To compound the problem, my father in law had just died after complications preceding heart bypass surgery. There was no way any one of us could persuade him to have the surgery after my father in law died. We came together as a family and fought the doctors. We told them this is what my father wants and even though we know what limitations his current condition held, we had to respect my father's wishes. He seemed to get healthy again, refusing to believe what the doctors had told him. Christmas '95 was uneventful, except we noticed that my father had a cold. By January the cold did not go away. My father began complaining of chest pain. He went to the doctor who told him he had pleurisy and there was not much that could be done except rest. By the end of March, my father would get out of breath if he came upstairs from the basement. He moved into an upstairs room of the house. He stopped going to his favorite activities, bowling, lunch at the diner, shopping. I insisted he go to the doctor. He kept telling me the doctors said there was nothing they could do to make him better. I called the doctor myself, begging them to at least do something to help him to be more comfortable. The doctor said to bring my father in and he would try to talk to him about some alternatives. On the day we were to go to the doctor's appointment, my mother called and said my dad could not get out of bed. I rushed over and took him to the hospital. Two days later, the doctor called me back at work and told me my father was dying. He reminded me that this was exactly the way he told us my father would die when he counseled our family four years ago. At this time there was truly nothing that could be done and he suggested we call in hospice since my father so desperately wanted to go home. My father took the news as well as could be expected and was sent home under hospice care. The hospice people and the doctor told us my dad had only weeks to live.

At first my dad seemed to improve being at home with everyone visiting. (Of course they were all visiting because they knew this would be their last chance to see him.) Then my dad developed leg ulcers. In the course of one weekend, they got so bad that he could no longer walk. We stayed with him day and night and could see he was giving up. He had previously shunned the use of the morphine that hospice provided, but was now using it regularly.

I spent the last week of my dad's life with him. We talked a lot, not about death, but about the past. It was hard to see my dad in this shape. He was constantly cold, did not want to eat and, at times, would just fade out of the conversation. I remember the night before he died I was with him. My husband and I had to lift him into his bed to take a nap. I could tell my dad was upset that we had to help him into bed. As I was leaving that day, I kissed my dad and told him I wouldn't be back the next day. I would see him in two days. I thought my dad was asleep when all of a sudden, as I was leaving the house and saying good-bye to my mom, I heard my dad yell, "I said, I love you." My dad could barely whisper, so to hear this loud yell was shocking. I did not yell back, although I should have. My dad died the next morning. I like to believe that he waited until no one was around (except for my mom) purposely. He knew that none of my sisters or I were coming that day to visit him. He knew we had been with him all the days prior to his death and I think he was at peace.

Now, six months later, I feel like writing and going to a grief support group. I wrote this poem last month when I was particularly sad over losing my dad and not being able to see him again. There have been moments where I feel his presence and I have had one dream about him, but I am greedy and want more. I never realized how hard losing someone could be and the effect it has on your life. I know my dad is watching over me now and I know he is no longer in pain, but there is a big hole left here that I am trying to fill. -- I love you, dad. Watch over everyone in heaven until we get there.

Sometimes When I Think of You

Cindy James
Oct 96

Sometimes when I think of you
I remember all the bad times,
the very sick times that were so much a part of that last month.
The oxgyen tube, the pain medications
not being able to eat or drink
And the cold chill
that you were never able to shake.

Sometimes when I think of you
I see the medical equipment
that controlled so much of your environment.
If you were a little bit more aware
you would have pushed away all the help
You never wanted to have anyone else
waiting on you.

Sometimes when I think of you
I see your pained face
the internal crying-out to let you go.
No one knew what the exact timing was to be
but we all knew at some point you would not want to go on.
When that time came,
we all saw it in your face.

Sometimes when I think of you
I wish, really hard
I could see you again.
I need to know you are fine
and I need to know you are happy.
I can only trust in my faith and the promises I know
that you arrived safely to your new home.

Sometimes when I think of you
I do nothing but cry
for what I will never have again with you.
Dads are forever
and now you are gone.
You took a large part of me with you
when you left - a part that leaves a void in my heart today.

Sometimes when I think of you
I try to see the good
in all that has happened.
I remember the conversations,
I remember being there for you
I remember the words we spoke
and I remember the final "I love you."

Someday we will be together again
but until then, I have my memories -
sometimes, when I think of you.

Cindy Linder
October 1996

You can send email to Cindy at [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date
date of post 11-16-96

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW