Isn’t it strange how life can be both exquisitely sweet and bitterly painful at the very same time? Maybe that’s where the word bittersweet originated.

Knowing that this will (most likely) be my father’s last Christmas on earth made the day especially poignant. The songs at church on Christmas Eve touched me in a different way–hearing the words about angels and our Heavenly home, viewing the birth of our Savior from the eyes of Eternity–they will never seem like simple Christmas carols again.

We spent a wonderful time together as a family yesterday–opening gifts, having our traditional breakfast meal. There was even time for a long walk in the afternoon sunshine. Late in the day we visited Dad at the facility, and friends, I have to tell you, it was gut wrenching. I can’t even describe how sad it was–the terrible quality of his life right now is just…heartbreaking. (Don’t misunderstand–he’s well cared for and he’s well loved.) But he can’t talk, can’t recognize anyone, can’t sit up in a chair, can’t feed himself…well, you get the picture. It was the first time I really felt the suffering of Alzheimer’s disease. Suffering for him, suffering for the rest of us. Such a hard, hard thing to bear.

Afterwards, we had dinner at my brother’s home and played a fun game–such a tonic. Good food, loving family, lots of laughter.

Then we came home to receive a phone call that my uncle had passed away (my dad’s college roommate. Dad had brought Uncle Tom home for a holiday and introduced him to his sister. Magic happened!). Uncle Tom’s passing wasn’t a surprise–he had been very ill.

I’m praying the Lord will take Dad “Home” soon, to be reunited with those he loved who had passed before him. “Precious in His sight is the Homecoming of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). 

It’s hard to know why my dad has had to face a slow death via AD, but I do know that God is with him, right alongside him in the midst of this long road Home. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). 

Emmanuel. God is with us. Amen and amen! 

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