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Thoughts on the sixth day

Posted on 2006.12.21 at 06:25
Current Mood: sadsad
Today is the 6th day of Hanukkah; while the date was different, it was on the 6th day of Hanukkah three years ago that my Dad died. What I really want to tell, though, is how this illuminated Hanukkah for me.
My Dad had been terminal for a while by that time, and had really been hanging on to see the birth of his first granddaughter, Sophie. That happened on 12/12. I remember that night, because they emailed me a picture, which I printed out and showed him. He hadn’t been able to talk for a long while, but he got a beatific smile on his face when he looked at the picture and gave a big thumbs up. It was one of the truest expressions of pure joy I have ever seen.
He went downhill very quickly after that. If you had told me three years ago that people can really hang on for things like that I wouldn’t have believed it, but it really seems to have happened.
A few days before Hanukkah began, Dad had been semi-comatose for a lot of the time, and began having real trouble breathing. His systems were just shutting down from the cancer. Even though this really seemed like it was it, we took him to the hospital; they admitted him after giving us the lecture that this was pretty much it, and that all they could do was just try and manage things and try and provide some palliative care. They didn’t think he would last the night.
But he did. Even though he was in and out of consciousness, he lasted the night and the next day, and the next. As Hanukkah began, the doctors had established a sort of daily ritual of coming in and telling us that today would definitely be it. Dad was pretty much comatose, but we continued to show him pictures of Sophie just in case. Mom and I slept at the hospital, knowing that Dad hated to be left alone, and wanting to be with him as long as possible.
This went on. He wasn’t on any extraordinary life support measures, and was not responsive, but he hung on. He hung on for 8 days during Hanukkah. Then, after 8 days, he died, with Mom holding one hand, me holding another, and a picture of Sarah, his daughter, and Sophie on his chest. I put my hand on his forehead and said Shema for him, since he couldn’t speak.
This will always be Hanukkah for me. That Dad lasted as long as he did, that he gave us the present of his being with us for as long as he did, and for as long as he possibly could, days beyond when any of the doctors thought he would be with us. Things about the Maccabees, the oil, the Temple- all those are just symbols. The real meaning of Hanukkah is that when all hope is gone, and it seems like there is nothing left, sometimes, just sometimes, there is a little more. There is a bit more hope, more life, more light, more love than anyone thought there could be. And that is what Hanukkah is about.


devils_mouth at 2006-12-21 11:34 (UTC) (Link)
Wishing you and yours a very happy Hanukkah. May the memories of your father always be laced with joy & love.

suzermagoozer at 2006-12-21 12:05 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Jonathan...I remember those days. You are such a good son...and i think it's amazing the way you have illuminated hanukkah for others with this story.
really, really nice.
shullie at 2006-12-21 12:21 (UTC) (Link)
thankyou for sharing that light with us, your dad must have been a very proud man to have such a son like you.

many blessing for you and your family

wordsbyme at 2006-12-23 00:49 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for sharing this story!
Release the Kraken!
delerium69 at 2006-12-23 04:03 (UTC) (Link)
That was lovely. *hugs*
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