I Saw the Sign

I Saw the Sign

Sometimes all you need is a sign.

I’m so happy to say that recently Adam and I have found a church we are enjoying. So much so that we haven’t been able to try any others because we are so ready for the next week’s message. And we find ourselves excited about our new Sunday schedule:

Leave by 8:30 am, get in the coffee line (two hot brews, one of them with three pumps of sugar-free vanilla), 9 am service, and then a nice Sunday breakfast together.

However yesterday, I found myself inundated with thinking about what this week holds. As the congregation sang, my mind would drift into thoughts about Dr appointments, my grief group’s candlelight ceremony, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season already beginning, and Dad. I always think about Dad in church.

The service continued and while holding my coffee in one hand, I attempted flipping to the precise chapter that our Pastor was teaching with the other. It wasn’t going well… But what I landed on was no mistake. It couldn’t be.

The Bible I’m currently using belonged to my Mema Frost, my dad’s mom. When she passed in 2011, I knew how much her church family and Bible meant to her and was grateful to inherit it. I’m so happy to be putting it to good use now and I can feel her every Sunday, always tucking it in close to my heart as I walk in.

And yesterday, while thinking of the unknowns of the week and attempting not to spill my coffee, I landed on a section highlighted in blue. Ephesians 3:16-21. My eyes big, my mouth open, my brain hungry to take in the words. My Mema knew where my mind was wandering and at some point in her time with this Bible, her mind had wandered there, too. But she found comfort in this chapter, marked it, and now she was passing it on to me. Right when I least expected it, but exactly when it was needed.

In that moment, my faith became greater than my fears and my eyes filled with tears. Mema heard me. God hears me. And while tomorrow is a mystery, He’ll get us through it. Just as he always has. I’m on the right path, things will fall into place the way they should. I just need to rely on my strength, my patience, and my faith.

Sometimes all you need is a sign. ♥️

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Do you think my dad intended the anniversary of his passing to also coincide with the ever-popular, yet unofficial “Mean Girls Day”? It was sure hard to miss when October 3rd would be and yes…it was a Wednesday, so everyone wore pink! So yeah, Dad probably hated it. 😜

Leading up to the day, Mean Girls was a fun, welcomed distraction…but by the time October 3rd rolled around? I was over it. You didn’t need to tell me what day it was via 40 or so Facebook statuses. And on October 2nd I decided what I would do to make sure the negativity stayed at bay. What could I do to keep us all from crying in bed all day? That’s when it came to me…

3 acts of kindness aka Good Deeds for Dad! I had taken the day off of work, so I was ready to spread some love. My mom and I met at a local cookie bakery and bought roughly 5 dozen cookies. The first stop? Our hospice facility. I know how those families feel and sometimes you just want a yummy treat to go with that 4th cup of coffee. A side dish of warmth to wash down the hardest time you’re living in. So we left two dozen cookies for the families and staff and spent a little time in the space that we called home for 4 days.

Next, we headed to the hospital. The renal floor is where we spent the majority of our stay because they knew Dad’s dialysis schedule and orders. And we were just fine with that because they were the best in the hospital. The kindest, funniest, thorough, and knowledgeable. I wanted them to know just how much they meant to us last summer and it worked out perfectly that our favorites were there. It was bittersweet hearing their words about Dad and how they think of him when other patients come in. They reassured us that he touched so many lives and that visit was so good for my heart. I’m thankful for all they do every day, giving so much of themselves to patients and families. In doing so, they’re forever a part of our family.

On the way home, I had one more act of kindness I wanted to fulfill. Something I had never done…I started a pay it forward at Chick-Fil-A! It felt great, I’ll never know if or how long it kept going, but I got to start it.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out, trying to not be as sad and talking about our Good Deeds and how it’s a new tradition. I went to bed grateful for the day spent with my mom and sister, just as Dad would want.

I wish that was the end of the anniversary recap. But alas, my friends, no Good Deed goes unpunished. With all the running around on Wednesday, somewhere along the way, I had put my sunglasses down. And by Thursday night, I couldn’t remember where to pick them up.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that my memory is usually batting at .400. I remember EVERYTHING and it is so rare for me to lose things. But grief has really enjoyed taking bits and pieces from me, including my memory. And he took Wednesday and my sunglasses’ exact location. By Friday at 9 am, not being able to find them was all I could think about. I found myself crying for long periods of time. I went to my car three times, slamming my leg in the door and bruising it. I called all of the restaurants we visited with no sign of them. I cursed, I cried more. And it hit me…I knew what this was about, it wasn’t the glasses. It was the reason WHY I couldn’t find them.

Wednesday I focused so much on keeping sadness at bay that I hid my grief. I didn’t give myself ample time to acknowledge the anniversary of our loss, so grief came in the back door and scrubbed away the five seconds it took for me to put them down and left everything else.

Grief is a journey. While I loved my day of giving, I needed to give some of it to myself. The one year anniversary hit and I sought a day of only happiness instead of following the path that was made for me. I needed the balance of doing good, but remembering why this day of good now exists for my family.

And for those of you wondering… Yes, the glasses were found. And the lesson is now learned. So here’s to the journey to year 2, may the times of sorrow come, but also go quickly. And may my sunglasses always be where I put them down. 🙂

The Goodbye: The Final Chapter

The Goodbye: The Final Chapter

I awoke in the recliner next to dad’s bed. My pillow was on the floor and my neck was stiff from attempting to find a comfortable position. I looked at Dad, still sleeping peacefully. I watched his breaths, in and out, in and out. I checked my phone, as word had spread about our current living situation, I had received multiple texts and messages. I tried to make as little noise as possible, but it wasn’t long before Kelsey and Mom were awake, too. There was no such thing as a good sleep in hospice. We were lucky to get a couple of hours between nurses coming in, noises, and that furniture material that you stick to, no matter how you lay on it.

We hung out for awhile and mom decided she’d go take a shower. We had another day of meal’s and visitors lined up. I opened one of the doors to the porch. It was a gorgeous morning with a nice breeze and 60*. A perfect morning for coffee in that rocking chair later on, I thought to myself. I took mom’s spot on the couch and Kelsey and I continued scrolling through our phones listening to music. I kept the lights off in the room. It felt so peaceful. Our good friend Melinda popped her head in to let us know breakfast was ready in the family area. Something told me to just hang a little while longer.

I can’t tell you what it was, but something inside of me said go check on him. I walked to Dad’s bedside, I knew. I watched his chest, waiting for the inhale. It never came. He was gone. Kelsey knew instantly by my stillness.

I covered my mouth with my hand as tears fell instantly. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. Nor the myriad of emotions that flooded my brain. First, relief. I was so relieved he was no longer in pain, no longer waiting for it to be over. Second, guilt. How could I be relieved that my Dad, one of my best friends, is forever gone from me? Third, Agony. Oh my gosh, my Dad is really gone. How do I do this? And fourth, panic. My Mom still had no clue. Do I go get her? Do I let her have a last moment of peace before her life turns upside down?

Oh Dad…I’m so sorry,” the only words I could get out through tears. At that moment, Mom came in and watched as Kelsey and I stood waiting for the doctor to call the official time of death. All I could mouth to her was that he was gone. Why Dad waited until Mom left the room, I don’t know. Maybe that’s how he wanted it? Maybe he thought that was best? But it took him no time at all to send us a sign as we came to the realization of what had just happened

My whole life I chose to be #13 on my sports teams because that’s always been my Dad’s favorite number. Lucky #13. My dad passed on 10/3 at 10:03am…13 and 13.

The rest of the day was a blur. We stayed with Dad until we were ready. We walked out with him, all of the hospice staff standing and paying their respects. He went out through the same doors he had been brought in. We packed up in disbelief and went home. How did I even drive my own vehicle? We watched the world continue the hustle and bustle around us while we moved in slow motion. Our hearts aching, our eyes raw, our bodies exhausted. Grief got his first grip and held on tight.

The rest of the week we did the funeral home visit, church visit, cleaned out his office at work. We stayed awake talking/reminiscing/crying until 4am and then would sleep til 1pm. It was the most backwards my day had been since freshman year of college.

And now here we are, 365 days later. I wish I could say my days have gone back to normal. I don’t think they ever will. Even if they could, I wouldn’t want them to. October 3, 2017 – It’s The Goodbye that changed my life.

The Goodbye: Part 3

The Goodbye: Part 3

On Saturday morning, I got the call that we were moving to the hospice facility. I immediately began packing a duffle because we were all in. My mom, sister, and I would be sleeping in my dad’s room and living there till the end. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, you do NOT leave one of your own in their time of need. We’d been there with dogs and cats as they crossed the rainbow bridge, my mom and I stayed in hospice with my Mema just 2 years prior. It’s just what we did and it’s what I’ll continue to do for the rest of my life.

The hospice facility had two sides of rooms. While all were beautiful, only one side backs up to Kennesaw Mountain, one of Dad’s favorite spots in our town. We were told all mountain side rooms were taken, so the parking lot side was our option. However, I believe God gives you what you need. And He did that day. Sadly, in this place, you know why a room becomes available. But we were thankful that Room 10, overlooking the mountain, became our home. It had a porch, French doors, two beautiful rocking chairs, and was next door to the patio area where we welcomed visitors. It was the perfect set up for the worst situation.

When we arrived, Dad was in an enormous amount of pain from his transfer. He was behind in medication and it was going to take a few doses to get him comfortable. One thing I have always loved about my Dad was his kindness and respect for everyone. Once his pain subsided, he asked for his nurse again. When she came in, he extended his hand…

Hi, I’m sorry. I think we got off to a rocky start. I’m Scott, what was your name?

I could tell that she had never heard such an apology. Especially coming from someone who was also coming to terms with their final days on Earth.

Susan,” she said with a smile. “It’s so nice to meet you.

The next two days were spent getting acquainted with the facility. Our friends and family visited and participated in a meal train so that we never had to leave for food. It was the sweetest gesture and the company gave us the laughs we needed to get through the next hour. On Sunday night, I was asleep in the recliner next to Dad’s bed and the nurses came in to clean him up. I wish this was a happy moment, but I woke to the sounds of his discomfort, wishing it would stop. I held his hand and we both cried because of his pain. I wanted to take it away for him, but I couldn’t. As the nurses left, I got an alert on my phone. A shooter in Las Vegas took the lives and injured many at a country music festival. We turned the tv on and Dad whispered “can you believe it?

I replied no, shaking my head. It was awful.

Then I heard Dad sing softly “Do you believe in magic?

Again, here he was lifting the mood. Trying to cheer others up when he was the one going through the worst. He’d been in so much pain again, but put it aside to bring comfort to us as we all sat watching the breaking news unfold. My hero.

Monday brought more guests sporadically, so it was nice to have quiet moments of reflection on the porch. Dad used the last bits of strength he had for first pumps anytime someone asked about our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes. The weather was amazing, it was the first weekend that the temperatures dipped to a beautiful 60* and the breeze was perfect. With the French doors open, I would watch Dad sleep and study his methodical moves of his hands. Always placing one gently on his chest, the other on his lap. Every so often they would trade places and he’d be asleep again. I knew we were getting close by the increase in long naps. I hated we were there, I wished it all away, but then I’d look at him and pray it wouldn’t last long. That was his only request to the palliative care doctor at the hospital. He just didn’t want it drawn out.

That night was quiet, not a lot of nurse interruptions. No nighttime visitors. Mom, Kelsey and I talked about everything we could think of. We cried about our future and the unknown, laughed discussing our favorite stories, and even ignored our situation altogether with gossip sessions from social media. It was all we could do to get ourselves to sleep.

If only we had known that it was our last night with Dad.

The Goodbye: Part 2

The Goodbye: Part 2

The next day, my alarm rang out and my eyes tried to convince my brain to keep them closed. I could feel the pure exhaustion and heaviness in my eyelids. I instantly hoped it was all just a nightmare as I scrolled through my phone through a swollen filter. A “Happy Anniversary” text was a welcome distraction from my husband, but just one scroll confirmed the reality of the situation. This September 28th was already proving to be very different than our wedding just 4 years prior.

Attempting to work from home, I logged on with some coffee. I’d work as long as I could, then head to the hospital. But with one text from my mom, that coffee became a second thought.

Your dad has made a decision, I think you should come now. He’s stopping everything…

I tried catching my breath, I knew what that meant. Dad elected no surgery, he’d given everything his best shot. Dialysis didn’t make him feel great, so he was stopping instantly. Why prolong the infection and waste the time in isolation that could be spent with others? It took no time to get out the door, going on autopilot as I drove the 30 minutes to the hospital and joined my family. We agreed with his decision, but that didn’t make supporting it any easier.

Dad was his usual self, not letting on that he’d just made the first step towards our worst fear. He had seen my earlier post on Facebook, the video of his speech at my wedding, dedicating my anniversary to him. Outside of family, no one, let alone social media, was even aware of the happenings in the last 24 hours. So when he requested to hear the comments, he knew they were genuine and enjoyed hearing the high accolades that were written. Most included the word EPIC and they were so right.

At that time, a coworker of Mom and Dad’s, Mike, walked into the room. We were all taken by surprise. Their employer knew Dad was in the hospital, but not the seriousness and the decisions that were just made. Mike said he didn’t know why, but felt he was needed this morning and what a blessing it was that he listened to God’s direction. We broke the news to him, we prayed together, and he helped Mom with telling the office the news so the stress was removed from her. Dad requested lunchtime visitors and to spread the word. And that began the steady stream of love that came through the step-down unit doors for the next couple of days.

I watched as groups of coworkers and friends took turns to laugh with Dad and listen to his words of advice. I snapped a picture of his smile as he told the young guys from his office to not take life so seriously and enjoy the days in the office, someday they’ll miss it. Just as he had since he’d been out sick for mainly all of 2017. We let anyone who wanted a chance to come in and visit. While it was easy to give everyone their time, in reflection that was a much harder decision than we thought. While Dad was in his prime with others, we were losing our own precious moments. Ours were shared with doctors and nurses and often with his energy tank running on fumes.

My alone time came on Friday morning. Until this moment, I had only truly cried in the waiting room, trying to be strong for Dad. We had been waiting for a nurse to come in for a bath and shave and I broke down sitting beside him.

I hope you know how much I love you,” I sobbed.

Dad, reaching to hold my hand, “Of course I do. Do you know how much I love you?

I nodded yes.

But you don’t, Kara. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. You make me so proud. The way you treat your family and your friends. One of the greatest prides of my life.

With a lump building in my throat, I squeaked out, “I learned it all from you.”

Well, we could compliment each other all day, but we’ve got things to do, don’t we?

I wasn’t surprised with Dad’s response directing away from the sensitive conversation. He assumed we’d have more opportunities to talk, and so did I. He knew more visitors would be coming and he wanted to feel clean and as put together as possible. And just like that, our moment was over. That was the last full conversation I had with him.

That’s a hard thing to realize now, that someone else got the sharp and witty that should’ve belonged to my mom, my sister, and me. But the smile on his face when another person walked in was worth it. I’m not sure if I had to do it all over that I’d do it the same, but for Dad in that moment, we did the right thing. And I hope in reading this, maybe a few of those people will share their private words with us someday. Just so I can have another piece of him. I’ll always wish for more words.

That same night, while touring our chosen hospice facility, Dad was given a pain medication that didn’t sit well with him. It should not have been administered and unfortunately, it stole his clear state of mind and replaced it with confusion or pain and very few words, there was no alternative for the rest of his palliative care. We got word that we’d be moving the next day. Mom, Kelsey, and I buckled down and tried to prepare ourselves for what was certain to be the worst time of our lives.

The Goodbye: Part 1

The Goodbye: Part 1

September 27, I received a phone call that changed my life. A phone call that, deep down, I knew was coming. I just didn’t know it would be so soon.

It was a regular Wednesday at work and quiet. After lunch, my phone boasted mom’s name as it vibrated on my desk. She was hesitant, but always asked how I was before any conversation, and then…

“Your dad’s been taken to the ER. He wasn’t responding to the dialysis nurses.”

I don’t remember a lot after that except that I told mom and my boss that I’d head to Kennestone ER so he wasn’t alone. That gave mom a little time to tie up her workday. I made the 45 minute drive from Atlanta, talking to God the whole time. “Lord, only you know what’s about to happen. I don’t know that I’m ready.”

I parked, got to Dad, and he didn’t even remember why he was there. I helped him try to put together the pieces as he came out of his fog. Taken to dialysis, hooked up to treatment, woke up at the hospital. I hoped this wasn’t about to be a long hospital stay since his hyperbaric dr told us he was doing great just the week before. Doctors came in and out, examining, asking questions that thankfully I was there to answer since Dad was still fuzzy.

When we were alone, I took notice of my dad. Just watching him. We always told him how cute he was and this day was no exception. I wondered how I got so lucky to call him my dad. He was so funny, thoughtful, kind, and SMART. I hated he was going through this, but I was thankful I was there for him. He’d been through hell that whole summer, but he was fighting as hard as he could.

Mom found us just about the time that his vascular team came in. Here it came…

“Mr. Frost, there’s a pretty bad infection in your amputation. we could do surgery and remove more, but we need to think about your quality of life. If untreated, this infection will be terminal… I would not blame you if you decided you’ve been through enough. You really have. You can let us know your decision within the next day.”

No words. I had no words. I could only make eye contact with my mom. Then I felt the tears stinging and involuntarily streaming down my face and everything turned to slow motion. Was this real? Was I dreaming? I watched Dad reach for Mom’s hand and they let us know we were being admitted in a few minutes.

The rest of the day was a blur as my dad told us he’d think about his options overnight. Though, again, I knew deep down what his decision would be. I’d watched as he went from an independent man hoping for a kidney to his life turning upside down and unaware if he’d ever walk again within 5 months. Looking back now, We hadn’t had many wins, so deciding to go out on his own terms would be the last bit of control he had. I called our family to let them know of the day’s happenings, I remember thinking I’m too young to make these kinds of calls about my parents. But there I was.

Unable to sleep, I laid in bed all night wondering what the next day would bring…

The Rainbow Connection

The Rainbow Connection

You know those beach trips that are good for the soul? That are so needed in so many ways? I love those because there’s something about everyday that you soak in and keep with you. It’s not just a vacation, it’s a recharge. Last year, in the midst of Dad’s battle, Adam and I were able to get in a day and a half at the beach and I remember saying “I so needed this” through a large exhale while staring at the water. Feeling so small next to that ocean, yet so peaceful. Little did I know that in exactly one week from that moment, Dad would be admitted to hospice. That small press of the mental reset button would be what pushed me through the worst time in my life. Since December, we’ve had a departure date of August 25th in the planner for this year’s vacation to Miramar Beach, FL and Adam, my mom, my sister, and I have all been running on fumes to get there, counting down the days via text message when we knew of one of us having a rough day.

However, we also knew this trip brought a different element. On one hand, gratitude for the opportunity to refill the tank. But on the other, a sadness and exhaustion that feels too permanent to be erased in the salty air. A walk on the eggshells of emotion stood between us and sandy toes. This would be the first vacation without our Captain. He was our best event planner…

“Tuesday – we putt-putt, Thursday – pizza in our suits and night swimming”

And we went along with it because he’s never failed us, every trip was special and he made it that way. How would we fare without him?Well…it’s a week later and I’m proud to say we made it through. I think we all feel rested, we’re definitely more tan than when we arrived, and while sadness still lingers, we can find comfort in another peaceful goodbye.

We discovered that sticking to an itinerary is not really our strong suit. We’d decide on breakfast at one of our favorite spots…and that’s the day waking up would feel impossible. Renting a movie would be thrown out to the group, agreed upon…and then no one’s eyes would stay open long enough to even pick the film. We flew by the seat of our swimsuits. We welcomed the sunny days and rainy days equally. Clear skies provided the fun and the clouds gave the ok to take time for quiet reflection in the condo. However, we did stick to one plan, the most important plan of the trip. We brought Dad to his second resting place.

Thursday, August 30th, we woke with the sun and watched as Dad became one with the waves. Knowing this was where we spent our last family vacation together in 2014 combined with dad’s love of the ocean gave us peace. It was tearful, but beautiful as a storm slowly rolled in. It felt poetic and appropriate, no one enjoyed watching lightening over the water more than my dad. The thought of him being present for every future vacation fills my heart with comfort.

When we packed up and were ready to get on the road this morning, we all took one last look at the ocean from our balcony. None of us really wanting to leave. Knowing it was partly due to the week being over, but mostly because a piece of Dad would be left behind. We took a selfie with the ocean behind us and then turned around to find a surprise that left us in awe. I know the science behind it, but in this instance, I know the spirit behind it. Through tear-filled eyes, I watched as a subtle rainbow crept closer to shore with each passing second. This week was the summation of sunny rays and downpours, rip tides and gentle breezes. This week was a rainbow. A mix of emotions, experiences, and colors, but always special. Dad gave us a rainbow of memories in life and today he sent one to let us know that life’s salty and sweet would always be there, but so would he. Just when we needed him.

So Kermit, I think we’ve found it…The rainbow connection. The memories, my dad, and me.