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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013
My father died two years ago on August 4th, my daughter's birthday. He was buried on my wife's birthday, three days later. It seems like such a long time ago and yet, it feels like yesterday in a way.

I made it home late the night before he died and through the early morning hours my brother and sister in law tended to my father as I slept on the couch outside of his bedroom. This was an act of love on their part, to help my father die in the home he had built, where he wanted to be, where my mother wanted him to be. They had been there through the transitions and would be here for this last one.

Early the next morning my brother awakened me and said it was time. When I made it to my father's bed he had stopped breathing. My mother came and sat beside me, closest to him and patted his hand. Then she looked at his chest and back at us and realized what was true. What she had feared and longed for.

I expected to hear the weeping and keening of my mother. We comforted her and sat with her and we talked about him. I tried to tell her she had done a good job taking care of him, that she had loved him well, but the words were hard to get out.

The hospice nurse arrived and he kindly walked us through the next steps. We destroyed the medication my father had been given and we waited on the hearse from the funeral home.

The saddest sound was not our crying. That was strangely comforting. We were sharing in this passage, remembering, celebrating, and trying to honor a good man who had lived well and loved well.

The saddest sound was not the wheels of the gurney down that long, narrow hallway, or the moment when my mother stopped them for one last kiss.

I don't know, maybe that was the saddest sound. Just thinking about it sends me over the edge.

But, perhaps, the saddest sound came as we were at his bedside, wondering what to do next. What do you say to a woman whose dearest friend is no longer with us, or to his children? What do you say to yourself when the only father you've ever known is still and lifeless? What do you do?

My brother walked to the end of the bed or into the other room, I can't remember which, and I wondered what he was doing. Could he not bear the sorrow? Did he need to be alone?

He walked over and turned off the machine supplying oxygen to my father. Just a flick of a switch and the whir of the machine silenced. It's something my father would have done. When there's a motor running that isn't needed, you turn it off.

That was the saddest sound to me. The final realization that yes, this is the end. This is goodbye. The room grew quiet. Uncomfortably so. My mother blew her nose. I leaned back in the creaky chair. And then, outside, somewhere near the hillside he loved, where he drove his tractor and walked and whistled at the cows, the birds began their singing. Actually, they had been there all along, we just couldn't hear them because of the motor.

My father was finally free of pain, free of the need for oxygen, free from taxes and politics and the groundhogs in his garden. I like to think of him somewhere on the back 40 of heaven, cutting a field of hay for God. On a new Massey Ferguson that never needs a tune-up. Feeding hay to lions and lambs and swapping stories with Moses and my Uncle Pooch. Returning from whatever chore he's been given with a grin and two lungs full of air that feel like the breath of heaven, because it is.

He's in a place where they don't need oxygen machines. And where you don't have to turn off the lights. Because the Light is always there.

12 comments:

Phil Hoover said...

Now you have me bawling this morning...

Marty Schoenleber said...

Thanks for sharing brother. My dad went home 7 years ago. Still hard to know that he is't breathing air and tinkering in his garage. Thanks for the reminder that he has more important things to do now. May the hope of the gospel ignite your worship today.

Sue Bidstrup said...

This is beautiful. I lost my dad 15 years ago and I miss him every day. I love that you mention taxes and turning the lights off...2 things my dad was worried about too. :) All the little things we remember...Thanks for sharing.

Matt Wilson said...

Thanks for sharing.

Jared Ingrisano said...

This short synopsis of what could create ten thousand words is so beyond special. This story touched my heart while reading as I have, like many others, have gone through a similar situation. For the most gut wrenching feeling there is, such a heightened level of comfort urges through the mind and soul when you can look back and realize the importance of a final breath, a non-responsive hand you grip enough for the both of you, the instance of the oxygen machine quieting, and power of our Father and savior. Chris, we share a fantastic gift of being present or the last hour of our fathers mortal lives and though many memories of those instances will haunt our thoughts and roar chills, they will most certainly lose effect in the comparison of the times well spent and the gift of being there in that moment. God bless you Chris, as well as your family and your passed Father. Maybe there is a chance for all of us to pray with you during one of your programs this week for the past fathers, the families, and mostly the ones who have endured this pain but had no opportunity of final moments.

Eileen Boetel said...

Chris, you have a remarkable way of being able to share life experiences --- they seem to zero in on the emotions I have gone through in similar circumstances.
I remember when you dedicated a show to your dad, shortly after he passed. Little did I know I would lose my own dad, a few months later. He passed on Nov 28, 2011. His last year of life was surrounded by family drama and turmoil. He had Alzheimer's, but was still functional. He fell and hit his head Nov 7. He had been self sufficient, feeding and dressing himself, still recognizing my sister and me.
Without going into details, my sister and I were/are estranged from our mother. I petitioned the courts to have access to my father as he was dying.
I was with him, holding his hand, and playing hymns--the hymn "You are Mine," by David Hass. I told my dad to go and be with God. Mercifully, God took him very peacefully--my dad just stopped breathing.
I am in the medical field and was so thankful for that small blessing--no struggling, or gasping--just quietly slipping into God's arms. Sometimes it is as fresh as yesterday, as you say. Other times it seems so far away. Even now, there are tears in my eyes.
I am comforted knowing he is with our Lord. I appreciate reading your reflections--it helps validate MY feelings, which at times, seem overwhelming.
Thank you for sharing.

Jason said...

Thanks for sharing this, Chris. It's striking how much this mirrors my own father's death in 1998. He, too, died at his home of 24 years where he wanted to be. All four of his kids were there. His beloved wife, our mother, was right there by his side when it happened. He had been comatose for about 3 days and she was moistening his lips when he smiled and was gone. That's something I'm so grateful to God for. It was just the perfect way for him to say "goodbye" -- with her at his side as she had been for over 40 years. Now he's free. Free of the labors of this life. Free of cancer. Free to love his child and grandchild (mine) that went before him. Free to fully worship God in all his glory. I'm sad that he's gone and I miss him deeply, but those feelings are tempered by the joy of knowing that through the love and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus I will see him again. In fact, his death was the turning point for me after about a decade as an atheist.

Sarah said...

Words are hard to find. Death is always hard but to be surrounded by your family is a gift.

Jill Savage said...

Such a poignant post, Chris. Thank you for sharing.

Jolina Petersheim said...

This broke my heart, Chris; thank you so much for sharing. We have to cherish the moments we have with our parents before they are gone.

Susan Fabry said...

Such a beautiful tribute for Daddy. Thank-you.

Anonymous said...

This is so profound & heart-wrenching. As I sit here with tears in my eyes I realize yes, we must ALL go through this. My mother passed away 4 years ago and her husband, not my father, 7 months later. He didn't want to live without her so he quit taking his medication. Thank you for the opportunity to "wash my soul"! I love your program. By the way, I AM NOT a robot!!!!