Holland: Love will endure, whatever may come

Published 9:34 am Friday, January 13, 2017

It’s hard to believe six months have gone by since my dad passed away. I know that many have lost one or both parents, and I’m sure we never really get over losing our loved ones but rather learn how to adapt as we try to keep pressing forward.

Dad was the hub in our family where all the spokes were connected. Without him there is a huge void. As the oldest child, I’m trying to step in and help in any way I can, but only the Lord can heal the wounds within our heart, and bring comfort and peace that passes all understanding.

He was only 77 years old, and lived with polycystic kidney disease. As his kidney function continued to decline, the individual must turn to dialysis in order to keep the rest of the body functioning properly.

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My dad decided to not have a transplant. He started dialysis in 1996 and this past year made the unbelievable stretch of 20 years on the “machine.” He was a model patient which helped greatly with his success. Through these last two decades, he had times when he felt decent and then there were weeks when he suffered with terrible pain, but you would hardly know it. He would force a smile and always try to direct the conversation toward something other than him being sick.

Since his departure to heaven, which, by the way, gives us comfort and encouragement, I have come to realize how much my mother also struggled. She has always been in relatively good health, but since they had such a close relationship, she naturally became absorbed in what he was going through. I am sorry to say most of the time, we were so focused on dad, we hardly noticed that as a constant care-giver, it was not only his life that turned upside down but hers as well.

Dad was always thinking ahead, so it’s not a surprise he had been preparing Mom to take over their affairs after his death. They planned their funerals and he was helping her understand about certain details. Everything seems to be going as well as can be expected.

In all of this, it is true that no matter how we try to brace ourselves for someone to pass away, we are always broken and in shock with the loss.

I am proud of how my mom is at least trying to get out and function in the world by herself. Even with us visiting and calling every day and making new friends at her church, she confides in me that she is lonely, which is understandable.

Dad left their car in good shape and she goes shopping or wherever. Recently, her church purchased a new van and they provide transportation. After church a couple of Sundays ago, she went to Pizza Hut for lunch. A couple she knows walked in and came over to her table to say hello. The woman said, “You are sitting all by yourself” and mom instantly replied, “Well, I might as well get used to it,” which is somewhat comical, but also a little sad.

I have written a short story called, “Till death do us part” and it’s posted it on my website if anyone would like to read it. It’s about the unfailing commitment and compassion my parents had for one another through nearly 60 years of marriage. It reminds us no matter what the future holds, the power of God’s love can give us the faith and strength to walk through anything together.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain.