Man, it’s been a while! Life has been busy since the last time we talked. The oilfield has done it’s thing. The pandemic has done it’s thing. And politics have done their thing! Ha!
I wanted to talk to y’all today about a year that was a turning point for me and my family. It’s gonna be pretty heavy, but know this: God won. Because He always does. It got extremely dark for a while, but God was always there.
Let’s start in the beginning. A little bit prior to February of 2018, my dad, the Wildman, was diagnosed with two types of non-Hodgkins lymphoma: Large B Cell and Follicular. Now, one of these was curable and the other could be controlled and maintained. He had gotten to “ring the bell” and the everything went into remission the Summer of 2017, but the dragon came back with a vengeance in the Fall.
He was tired of fighting. He and my mom had to live in Houston close to MD Anderson so they didn’t wear themselves out driving the seven to eight-ish hour trip weekly. Time and poisonous radiation had taken their toll on the Wildman and when he was told that it was back, he tapped out. He was ready to be in his own home and finish the fight there.
The last time I saw my dad alive was a couple weeks before he passed. I was coming back from a job in Woodward, Oklahoma and was able to stop and spend a couple days with him and NanaRita. Wildman was a shell of his former self. My once jovial dad had been reduced to skin and bones. He couldn’t really move a whole lot without help. He had already begun to not eat as much and drinking was a chore as well.
My plan was to spend a day and then head back for work. But when I went to hug goodbye, he wouldn’t let me go. We cried together for a while. He was scared and so was I. I got to the end of the road and turned right back around. I just couldn’t leave.
We sat and watched his favorite cooking shows, just soaking up one another’s presence. I hurts my heart just thinking about it, but I still have the joy of that time, if that makes any sense. I left early that next morning to start off my work week again. I went not fully realizing but half-knowing that I wouldn’t get much more time with him.
A mere two weeks later, I get a call from my oldest brother, James. I was on day 14 of a stuck drilling rig that had just been a tough sucker. He tells me I’m gonna need to get some relief because Dad wasn’t going to last much longer. As the ladies on Crime Junkie say, I had full body chills all the way back to Levelland. James calls and says I can hold off until the next day to come. So I get to spend a few hours with Jeg and the girls before I head their way the next day, Valentines Day.
You know, you always folks talking about those “never forget” moments. The moments where you know exactly what you were doing when a certain event happened. Valentines Day 2018 was one of those moments for me. I had gotten on the road early to make the two and a half hour drive the next morning. I got to Lorenzo, about 40 minutes into my drive, and I got the call. I had stopped in to grab a quick bite at the local Allsups. When I hung up the phone, my stomach was rolling around my feet like a quarter. The Wildman was gone.
The ensuing days were a blur. Comforting my mom, my brothers, and my family was my primary function of course. It’s just hard to describe the feeling of that kind of loss. Those who have been through it completely understand and those who haven’t have been spared.
So many people told me how awesome my dad was. I heard, “They don’t make anyone like that anymore.” “Your dad was definitely one of a kind.” “He was the best man that I ever knew.” “Nobody ever had anything bad to say about your dad.” It was just surreal hearing folks refer to him in the the past tense.
You find out who really cares about you when you’re in these dark places. We had numerous friends make the trip to love on us. (Thank you for that by the way.) Phone calls and food were in abundance. It was just amazing. Then, on the following Sunday, we laid him to rest and the challenge of grieving began.
I’ll use a whole other blog to write about the grieving process because it’s just too complicated to include here. It just came wave upon wave. I’m thankful for my wife, who just loved on me and my mom the best way she knew how. And my sweet kiddos. Goodness, those girls are incredible.
I was back to reality by Tuesday and it just sucked. I had a peace that he was in Heaven with Jesus but it didn’t help that he wasn’t here. That being said, you never really get over that loss. You just lean into that peace and comfort that the Holy Ghost gives you. (More on this later.)
A verse that I really took in during this time was Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The cool thing about God, is that He hangs out right there with you. Right there in your hurt. You may be a slobbering mess, but the HG…He’s got you.
Time heals all wounds, they say. Who is they? I’m not exactly sure, but that next week…the wound from my dad’s death was about to ripped open and exposed all over again in the form of another set of tragedies.
But that’s gonna be next week in part two of “2018.” Feel free to leave a comment of encouragement or even a snippet of your own story. Y’all stay safe out there.