Guilt. Regret. Fear. Anxiety.
These four experiences are enough to force a sane individual into a straight jacket, especially in the face of a massive personal loss. Six days shy of sixteen months ago I lost my mother to lung cancer, an eight-month battle that took the life of a beautiful and vibrant forty four year old mother, daughter, sister and friend. I was able to escape all four of these dreadful emotions; throughout the eight-month battle I exhausted the expression of my emotion and all of the legal and financial details were taken care of.
As you may or may not know, my mother was my best friend. She was my counselor, my advisor, my critic and my biggest fan. It was a huge blessing that I didn’t have to handle any of the exhausting responsibilities that come with the death of a loved one. My major responsibilities were to write the obituary, create a memorial program and make sure that I grieve well, all of which I completed.
Three days ago, my father passed away unexpectedly. He was taken to the hospital early Wednesday morning where he was diagnosed with having a major stroke. My father was then flown to Good Samaritan hospital where he was to undergo neurological surgery, a surgery that could not be performed because of an unknown heart condition. At that point his life was not over but the fight was. The life of my father became the flipping of an hourglass until the last grain of sand lost to gravity.
There was no preparation for this. However, I have spent years emotionally preparing for this gigantic loss. Thirty years of smoking, alcoholism and heroin addiction takes quite the toll on the human body. It has been obvious for years that my dad’s body was failing with true signs of diabetes, poor circulation and obesity. I lost a ten-year, multiple round fight with my father. Each verbal jab, hook and uppercut was in an attempt to persuade him to see a doctor in hopes to prolong life, for the benefit of my twelve-year-old brother, Devon. Consistently unable to block my attack but successful at evading any serious contact, he won each round but lost in a unanimous decision.
Guilt. Regret. Fear. Anxiety.
Where do these come in to play with the death of my father considering the situation was the opposite of the loss of my mother? There are some things that we are not in control of; often time those consist of other people’s decisions. I cannot beat myself up emotionally because my father would never go to the doctor. Never fully satisfied with the relationship that I shared with my father, I can say that it was better over the last year than it had ever been. I will cherish that time that we were able to spend together, forever. As far as emotional and financial support, my father was not an emotional support to me and his contribution to my desire to work and live the way I do was his covering of my car insurance. Now, I am only anxious of my brothers’ emotional and physical care and well being. The most painful aspect of this whole situation was my inability to be present with my family the day that he died. I was on vacation in Hawaii with my grandparents and two cousins [on my moms side]. We were in Hawaii somewhat in memory of my mother because my grandparents were unable to take her to experience a tropical vacation. I spent the duration of my fathers last round traveling; the last leg was a six-hour flight from Honolulu to Phoenix, which landed at 1:07am, twenty-three minutes after my father’s death.
Some things are just crazy when it comes to circumstances, for instance… my father passed away in room D1036 and on my last flight I sat in row G on flight 1036 [D and G are our initials]. Also, on the day of his death I had to make a call to coroner, who’s name was Dennis Allen… our name is Dennis Alan.
As logical as I have seem to make the grieving process, there are two aspects that override all logic and emotion, my faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ who commands that we would release our burdens and rest in the comfort of His sovereignty and grace. We, as followers of Jesus should not only be able to but should be pleased to rest in such a satisfying relationship. Also, my friends and family [these can certainly be synonymous] who have prayed for me, offered their condolences and physically been present throughout this process. To all of you, thank you and I am so, so grateful for you.
Below are a few pictures, I hope you find as much joy in them as I do.
dennis alan gable jr.