February 11th 2014
I will never forget this day. It is one of the most painful days to reflect on in my entire life. So much so that I won’t even be able to fully reflect on it in detail.
Bud was getting worse throughout the day. After work, on my way to Bud and Donna’s house, I was talking to my mom. She offered to take the kids to her house for a few days, just to make things easier for us for the next couple of days. Initially I told her no. I was still thinking Bud would have several weeks, or months left. After talking with Ashley, I called my mom back and decided to have her take the kids. It would make it a little easier for a few days.
Once I was at the house, I talked to Bud’s nurse off to the side. I told her I understand she has no way of knowing, but I would appreciate if she had any idea, based on her experience, how long Bud has. She reiterated that there is no way to know, but would guess at least a few weeks.
When my mom got there to pick up the kids we had them go say bye to pap. They told pap they loved him, and he told Naomi and Aiden he loved them. I wish so desperately I knew then that they would never see him again on this earth. I wish I could say hug him so hard, kiss him, don’t let go. I am very glad they each got to say they loved each other.
Later that night, I was sitting on the couch in the living room. Donna comes out and says, “Jon…would you mind coming here…I need your help.”
I went into the room and Donna shut the door. The weeks leading up to this moment I had seen some highs and lows of Bud. I have seen him in pain. I have seen his face try to hide the pain when he was walking. I could tell the pain he felt from his coughing and indigestion. I could see how he wished he legs would feel normal again. I could tell by how weak he had gotten. But I was not prepared for what happened in that room that night.
In his room that night I saw the true effect of how life crushing cancer is- the ugly and destructiveness of cancer. How it can take the strongest willed man I have ever known, and shatter him.
I walked back out into the living room with Ashley, and Bud’s parents there. Ashley gave me a concerned look, wanting to know what happened. I said he was fine, I just needed to help Donna move him.
I could only stay on the couch and hold it together a few minutes. I went to the bathroom, shut the door, and collapsed on the floor. I felt paralyzed. I was suffocating in my own tears. My breath was so heavy, and the room was spinning. I pleaded to God to end Bud’s suffering. I stayed in there awhile until I regained composure. I tried my best to put on a strong face for Ashley. I lied and said I had a stomach ache.
February 12th 2014
I never expected this day to be the last day I would see Bud on this earth. I suppose death is always like that. I took the day off because I had a dentist appointment. A little after I woke up Ashley told me the doctor had called and canceled at the last minute. I already had the day off so I figured it would be a day to relax with the kids, and talk with Bud. Bud’s brother Dean came over. He was also supposed to be at work that day, but for some reason took the day off.
That morning I noticed the return of certain mannerisms that Bud had. I saw certain facial expressions and reactions that were classical Budisms. I remember noticing them and being so filled with love. Looking at him and feeling so thankful for having him in my life.
Bud’s nurse came over. We mentioned how we were concerned about the liquid we could hear when Bud breathed. It sounded painful and we wanted to know if there was some way we could make that part of his pain feel better. She prescribed some liquid drops to dry it up, and said someone would bring over a suction tube later.
Ashley and I drove in to Muncie to pick up the prescription. When we got back we put some drops in his mouth, but it didn’t really seem to help. A little while later another person from hospice showed up with the suction tube. He showed us how to work it and then left.
It rapidly began to get worse and worse. Bud was noticeably in pain and discomfort. He began to breath deep, arch his body, and moan.
Throughout the next hour it got worse and worse. Almost the entire family showed up. I called the nurse and told her Bud was significantly worse. She said she would be over.
When she came over she said we might want to start saying our goodbyes to Bud.
I was speechless. I knew this moment would come, but I desperately didn’t want it too.
Everyone began saying something to Bud. Ashley was simply remarkable. She got close to him and talked to him. She read him Psalm 139:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Ashley told him that Aiden and Naomi loved him, and knew he was going to heaven to be with Jesus. She told him he didn’t need to fight. That it was ok. She told him to let go, not fight.
Through tears, she looked at me and said “Say something to him Jon.”
I was at a loss of words. I couldn’t. I leaned in and managed to softly say, “I love you Bud.” I wish I had more strength. Ashley was demonstrating her strength and love, and here I was unable to talk. I wish so desperately I told him more. I wanted to tell him thank you. Thank you for being the best father in law a guy could ever dream of having. Thank you for loving our kids so selflessly, thank you for being a true friend to me, for loving me, caring about me, and supporting me.
I wanted to say those things, but couldn’t. I could barely talk. I am at a loss of words to describe the incredibleness of Ashley here. I am weak, but she is so strong.
People continued telling Bud they loved him and good bye. Bud got worse and worse, but kept fighting. I always knew he was a fighter. It worried me here. Seeing him in pain, hearing his moaning, and gurgling scared me. I didn’t want Bud’s suffering to go on and on. Unfortunately, that’s what the nurse told me would likely happen. She told me it was normal for this to go on for days.
I begin to pray again that Bud’s suffering would end. That he would be able to go home to Jesus today. Over and over I begged inside, while Ashley outside kept telling her dad she loved him, and to let go.
One of the hardest parts for me to reflect on was the process Bud’s brother Dean went through. He kept insisting Bud would get through this today. While everyone was saying bye, he continued to talk about possibilities of what could be happening. Maybe if we could get the suction tube to work better, maybe he….etc. He seemed to be in denial of what was happening.
I remember looking at Dean and seeing a switch. The moment where he realized that this was it, Bud wasn’t going to make it through this one. It was devastating to see. I have no doubt Dean loved Bud whole heartedly. He didn’t want to lose him. He kept fighting and fighting. Some of the same stubbornness and strength in Bud is definitely in Dean too. The moment Dean came to the conclusion that Bud wasn’t going to make it he began talking to him real calm. “It’s ok Bud. Breathe slowly. We are all here. Let it go. We love you… it’s ok…” Bud would moan out in pain, and Dean would rub him, and talk in a soothing voice to him.
Ashley put the song “Holy Wedding Day” by City Harmonic on repeat. A song that means so much to us. Beautiful. A room full of people cried and watched as a man we all loved began letting go.
Bud held up his arms, raised them high. Without a doubt he was praising God. His breathing slowed and slowed until he finally let out one last big breath.
My shirt was soaked. My eyes were burning. I was emotionally exhausted. I just watched a man I loved die. My immediate thought was gratitude. I can’t begin to explain the thankfulness and love I felt towards God for pursuing Bud. I felt sad to see him go; I knew I would miss him- but what a celebration! If Bud had died unexpectedly eight months before, he would have never known the grace, love, and mercy of Jesus. We were all morning his loss. At the same moment that we were all sobbing about Bud, he is in the presence of our savior, our king, our God!