I’m Not Ready

It’s been a year today. Thoughts of you have risen up and choked me so many times over the last year. I miss your laugh. I miss your sense of humor. I miss your mumbles and having to ask you to repeat yourself. I miss your heart and how much you loved my baby girl and my sweet grandsons. I miss refereeing your arguments and knowing that you would call me to settle silly little disagreements. I miss you.

Selfishly I wish you were still here. I wish I could have continued to love and interact with you for many many years to come. I wish you could have met my fiancé. I wish I could have enjoyed the fruits of your labor as you and he bonded over grilling and crafting amazing dishes.

You loved me too. I know you did, and it means so much to me. Though I didn’t give birth to you, you were my son too and I miss you.

There have been so many times when thoughts of you and the loss of you has stopped me in my tracks. At a wedding…I couldn’t watch the bride and groom dancing because it reminded me so much of you dancing with my little girl at your wedding. I have looked at your pictures daily over the last year because they’re all over my house and all over my phone. Sometimes I can look at them and smile and remember the joy of knowing you. Sometimes I want to weep because I wasn’t ready to let you go.

There are times I wish I could go back and do things differently. I wish I could have loved you more, spent more time with you, tended your soft heart. If I had known…

How sad is that, that it takes losing someone to make you realize that life must be lived, people must be loved. We say it over and over, that we aren’t guaranteed our next breath. But we don’t believe it, do we? We assume. I did. I assumed that I would have you for years to come.

We spew thoughtless words and dismiss opportunities to love and speak life because we think we’ll have another chance. But we may not. The brevity of life is something we dismiss.

I am thankful, as raw and ugly as it was, that we had the time with you at the end that we did. Though those memories have choked me this week, we were with you. We were there. We held your hand and prayed over you and prayed for you while pacing in the halls. We laughed and played Trivia Crack and Dominoes in your hospital room. We laughed over the inane and asinine, and some of those moments have become bywords in our little world (Rabies!! Really?!). We took strolls around the campus of that massive hospital and sat in the lobby eating lunch. For all the reality of where we were and why, what was going on and all the uncertainty, there were moments of joy.

We were not prepared though. Overnight things changed and we weren’t ready.

It is an odd thing to be in the grip of fear mixed with the surreal. Seeing all those staff members outside your room, and sitting on a chair kindly provided by one of them through all the beeps and pages and bells and whistles and rushing and standing, I remember being overwhelmed with the fear of the worst and yet arguing within myself that they’re just being cautious. It’s not really this bad. This isn’t happening. I’m going to look foolish for fearing this when things have turned around and they come back out and say he’s going to be fine, we were just making sure.

But that didn’t happen. The bad got worse and and then worse again.

All the people around your bed, in the cramped little room in the burn unit. Waiting outside on the floor, leaning up against the nurse’s station because I didn’t want to be too far away. The utter and appalling dismay when you were moved again after being in that room just an hour.

Wishing I could talk to you. Wishing I could tell you it would be okay. Wishing I could reassure you.

Sitting in the waiting room of ICU and hearing the doctor recommend removing fluid and putting you on a ventilator. Finding out later that you had begged not to be put on the ventilator. That breaks my heart.

Wildly swinging between hope and despair. You were doing okay, they removed a good amount of fluid. You were not doing okay, you were doing worse.

Leaving to get something to eat at the hotel and to change my clothes and my daughter asking me to come back because she couldn’t do this.

Hearing “not for a minute was I forsaken, the Lord is in this place” driving into the parking garage.

Long sleepless night, back and forth between the room and the waiting room. The absolute and utter grief in your wife, my daughter, as she sat in her dad’s lap and wept.

Hearing the ICU doctor tell us, with deep and abiding kindness and compassion, that you would not last the day. Holding on to your wife, standing beside your bed, and keeping us both from crumbling to the ground.

The waiting and watching. Sitting still and holding your hand. Saying your name, “Drayton Randall Kirkpatrick,” and you doing everything you could to rouse up and respond, but unable to. Your body was holding you captive. I told you I love you. I told you how thankful I was for you and how much you love my girl and those boys.

The black hole of grief as you left us. Your wife, my daughter, crying in her sleep, and waking with sobs. The lethargy of grief. The long drive back home. The sense of unreality, knowing your body was still in Chapel Hill. We left you and that hurt.

Walking into your house for the first time afterward and seeing you everywhere, wishing we could turn back time and do something, anything, to make it different.

For a month I heard my daughter say “I’m not ready.” None of us were. It seems like sometimes we’re still not, even though it has already happened. You are gone and we miss you. There is a hole in our lives.

We had hope, but the good plan of our Redeemer meant we had to let you go. He loves us, and I know to the very marrow of my bones that He has been with us through this journey, that He has ached at our hurt, even while welcoming you home.

You know now, though, don’t you? You have seen the face of our Savior and enjoyed His embrace. You have stood in the footprints of angels and in the company of the host of Heaven and praised our King face to face. You have walked in the reality of that final redemption and are absolutely at peace. I can’t wish you back here in the shadowlands because where you are is so much better. It still hurts.

We still miss you.

We’re still not ready.

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