My dad was a hard-working, blue-collar man who worked multiple jobs to provide for our large family. He struggled with heart issues for as long as I can remember, and every few years there would be a health setback and we would be called to this hospital because of the grave nature of his condition. Every time he would pull through.
In August 2010, he knew this time would be different. He had been in the hospital for several days and the medical staff was unsure of how to move forward. Medically, there was nothing more to be done. The hospital called a family meeting.
Before meeting with the hospital staff, I went to see my dad and tried to comfort him as he thrashed in pain. He pulled me close to him and whispered "it's time for me to go." I said, "Dad are you sure? Are you ready to go?" "Yes", he responded, "I'm ready to go, please help me. I'm done now."
I left the room and met up with my sisters, my mom, and the hospital staff. I told them of the conversation I had just had with my dad, and within hours they found a place for him at a nearby hospice center. My dad died within twenty-three hours of being admitted.
Fast forward several months and my life had entered a dark phase. I was struggling with life's challenges and I could barely make it through the day. Every night I would pray to my Dad, "Please talk to God and send me some help. I need someone to take care of me. I'm not strong enough for this."
Then it happened.
I had the same dream over the course of several weeks. I was at dinner with friends and there was laughter and fun. There, in the background was my Dad. He was always just in the background, he never spoke or made himself known. He would give me the thumbs up with a huge smile on his face. Each time this dream occurred, I would wake up and think "Wow, that was awesome, thanks Dad!"
Time passed and then he came again. This time it was just me and my Dad. No one else was around. He sat me down and said, "I've heard your prayers. I know you think God isn't listening, but that just isn't the case. It hurts me to see you struggle so much when you already have everything you need to get yourself through this dark storm. You don't need someone to take care of you. You are strong and you just need to step up and take care of yourself. It's time to get on with it."
I didn't even get a chance to speak. The dream was over.
I woke up feeling very emotional. I was happy to have seen my Dad and I felt his presence so strongly. I knew what I had to do. No one could do it for me.
I had to find the courage to move forward.