Bittersweet Alaskan (Vancouver) Memories ~ Part Three

Sometimes everything becomes shrouded beneath the reality that… all life is grace.

Just as we drove our little red rental car into Granville Island to meet up with some extended family for yet another touristy gig, my husband’s mom called to say that she and Gung (my father-in-law) never did make it on their flight home.

Gung was in the hospital, and he was in the Intensive Care Unit.

With very little deliberation, we all postponed our travel plans to go to Seattle and stayed at a hotel in Vancouver, BC near St. Paul’s Hospital instead.

And honestly, I have to pause here … because this part is still hard to write.

Gung bravely endured four cardiac arrests. The doctors were able to save him those four times, but with each effort, resuscitation became harder, more tenuous … leaving him dependent on powerful medications just to keep his heart pumping and a ventilator to keep him breathing …  leaving him more fragile than ever.

My husband spent three sleepless days at the hospital with his mom, aunt and uncle, his sister and her family — standing at his father’s bedside, courageously holding his hand, praying with him.

The kids and I, along with my husband’s cousin and her very helpful kids, kept busy at the hotel — trying to keep things as normal as possible. (So thankful for their labor of love in helping me keep down the fort with the kids!)

But we were all pretty worried and distracted.

So we found this verse and made it our prayer…

O my strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.  My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. ~ Psalm 59:9-10

On Saturday, my husband told us that his dad was holding on by a thread.  “I think the kids should see him.”

“We love you, Gung,” was all the kids could say through helpless tears as they stood near his hospital bed framed by intimidating wires and tubes. Thankfully and quite amazingly, he was able to nod and lightly squeeze each of their little and not-so-little hands.

holding gung hand

On Sunday, Gung passed away at St. Paul’s Hospital.

And we’re all home now, trying to wrap our hearts and minds around this heart-breaking ending to an otherwise beautiful summer trip.

How we wish he could have come home with us. How we wish we could hear him singing his show tunes … how the ordinary and simple become so sacred when you’re reminded, all life is grace.

Grace gives us breath, and grace brings us home.

We’re thankful to have so many memories, so many snapshots to remind us of all the times we had with him.

We will cherish our last moments with him on this final trip — everything from the train ride to Seward to the times we sat with him at dinner to the times the kids made him smile.

Though not with us, he’s home … finally home with his Father in Heaven, filled with a joy and healing we can’t even comprehend.  I’m pretty sure, he can finally feast on whatever he wants on heaven’s table with NO dietary restrictions!

As my husband says so poignantly, his dad is probably already scoping out all the divey, delicious eateries up there in heaven for us (they do say, we eat in heaven, right?) … and we will indeed, without a doubt, hear him humming his show tunes again in the presence of the angels.

We miss you, Gung.   You were one of a kind.  Your legacy of generosity and love will be passed on in these little lives that loved you so much.

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