>A friend recently lost his father.  When someone loses a parent, especially a father, it reminds me of the death of my own father.

He didn’t have a lingering illness, he wasn’t in poor health.  He was diabetic, had high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Those combined with the fact that he was male and over 50, made him a high risk for stroke.  A stroke was what took him at the fairly young age of 62.

Having a stroke and being dependent on others was his greatest fear.  He was raised by his grandparents and his grandfather had a stroke and was bedridden when my father was a teenager.  When I saw him in the emergency room, he was paralyzed but his eyes were alert and filled with fear.  As an adult, when you see fear in your parents you are somehow given strength.  It isn’t easy, you just do it.

He was in the hospital for a little over a week.  We knew he wasn’t getting better.  It gave us time to say our goodbyes.  He looked like he was asleep, but I know he heard everything that was said in that room.  When my sister and her oldest son arrived from Oregon, his eyes flew open and he stared right at them when he heard their voices.  When family gathered around and prayed, tears streamed down his face.  He heard it all and knew.

God was calling him home.  I don’t think my Dad was quite ready to go.  I think we had to let him go.  August 7, 1997 was a Thursday.  My mom had been at the hospital all night.  She went home to get some rest and I was alone with my Dad.  I climbed into the bed with him and talked to him about lots of things.  I told him we were ready to let him go.  I told him we would all be fine and would take care of each other.  His blood pressure started to drop and the nurse said it wouldn’t be long.  She was comforting and kind.  I didn’t call anyone, I was selfish. It started to rain.  The rain was pouring down the window.  He took a deep breath and he was gone.  I felt him still there with me for a moment.

Death comes to us all eventually.  We witness it.  We feel the loss and emptiness left behind.  Those feelings never leave.  They are always present.

Death makes us empathic with our fellow man.  No matter your upbringing, your religion, whether you are rich or poor, the feelings are the same.  When a friend loses a loved one, we can look in their eyes and recognize all the feelings and emotions that are there.  We truly understand and feel what they are going through.  This is what makes us human.

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