On a Tuesday in early December, I was awakened by the phone at nearly two o’clock in the morning. Instead of Lauren, I was surprised to hear my frightened mother, who declared that my father had just suffered a stroke. Tragically, his brain hemorrhaged much faster than anyone anticipated. His last words to me were slurred over the phone through a bevy of drugs and drastically reduced brain function. But they were still clear: “See you on Friday.”
Unfortunately, I could not make it back to California in time to see my father that weekend. But I was able to see him a little later, along with my mother and brother Jack. As a family, we spent a few hours by his side before he slipped away peacefully, just before sunset on a Friday evening.
Help When I Needed It Most
Instead of calling my grandparents in England to tell them about my engagement to Lauren, I ended up calling them from a hospital payphone to tell them that my father (their son) had just died. We couldn’t have made it through that Christmas were it not for the selfless love of two wonderful women—my maternal grandmother and my fiancée. They faithfully supported us through a challenging and sorrowful Christmas season. It was during those weeks that I realized how incredible my fiancée was.
Lauren cleaned the entire kitchen when my mother was crying. She watched movies with my brother when he was sad. And she helped me focus on the many important things that needed to be done. Whether it was writing my father’s obituary and life sketch for the funeral, cooking a meal for the family, or organizing photos for a memorial tribute, Lauren was always there, ready.
Most of all, I will never forget the memorial service in front of hundreds of people. When it was time for me to read my father’s life sketch, Lauren went on stage with me. She held my hand and pointed to the right words when I lost my place on the page. During my family’s most difficult month, she spent weeks away from home. This was during what was supposed to be her last Christmas with her family before we got married. Lauren showed me what it means to live one’s life selflessly for the sake of others. And I am truly grateful to have her!
Martin Surridge writes from Northern California.© 2002 - 2021, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.