We knew it was coming, but we didn't expect it to be that morning before we even got to kiss Micah hello, or hold his hand, or say "I love you" one more time.
As a family, we agreed that Josh would spend the night of February 23 with his brother at the hospice house. Since Hunter and I had spent the night before with Micah, it was Evan's turn to stay with his dad. So the rest of us left to return to our motel rooms to get some sleep. I had a gut feeling that Micah would still be alive in the morning, and being utterly exhausted emotionally and physically, sleep came quickly for me that night.
The next morning, Bob and I planned to head to the store to purchase a few things for our stay in Sioux Falls, but as we pulled out of the motel parking lot, I told Bob I thought we should save the shopping for later, and go to be with Micah instead. When we arrived, it was about 8:10, and Micah was sleeping. We turned our attention to Josh, who had spent the night in the recliner in Micah's room. Josh told us Micah had put in a rough night and woke up about every hour because he was in great pain.
We decided to take our conversation out of Micah's room, leaving him to sleep peacefully. About 15 minutes later, a nurse arrived to check Micah's vitals. She entered his room, closing the door behind her. A few minutes later, she opened the door and signaled me to come in. I entered the room and closed the door. "I can't get a heartbeat," the nurse said softly. He's gone."
The moment was surreal. I had somehow known that Micah wouldn't die during the night, but it never even occurred that he would leave us right after we arrived that morning. I had wanted to be there, holding his hand, praying with him, or reading the Bible to him, but I didn't get to do any of that. I wasn't even in the room when he passed! The nurse suggested that perhaps Micah wanted it that way; it was enough for him to know loved ones were close by, and he felt ready to let go of his life here to move on to the next.
I opened the door and quietly told Bob, Josh, and Evan that Micah was gone. I'll never forget Evan's response. He burst into tears, ran to his dad's bedside, and picked up Micah's phone to play one of his favorite songs. All the while, he was talking to his dad and touching him. I explained that what was left in the bed was an empty body but that the real Micah was in the arms of Jesus in heaven.
My admin side kicked in pretty fast, and I began making phone calls, first to Tasha and then to extended family. When Tasha and the kids arrived, Danielle and Hunter joined Evan in saying their goodbyes to their dad. At the time, I thought it was odd that they all seemed to have an incredible need to touch Micah, talk to him, and play songs for him. I have come to believe that the healing process was already beginning for them as they were pouring out their love and grief. It was truly beautiful to see and healing to my own soul as well.
Several Dougherty House staff members, including the chaplain and a grief counselor, came in to offer their condolences. They were absolutely wonderful, especially with the kids. A little while later, the chaplain returned to conduct a memorial service (see the videos).
Everything was such a blur that day, yet I could feel God's love, peace, and comfort surrounding us.
Yes, the day, February 24, 2022, will forever be etched in my heart and mind. It was the day Micah's pain and suffering ended once and for all, and he (the son constantly pushing the limits) was made perfect; the day Micah met Jesus face-to-face.
It was also the day when our family would have to learn to live without hearing Micah's voice over the phone, receiving a text message from him, having him pop over for a quick visit, watching him worshiping Jesus in church, enjoying his latest grilling sensation lovingly prepared for us, sharing successes in business, and a whole host of other things. Micah's leaving us left a gaping hole in our hearts that day, but we would never wish him back. Instead, we look forward to seeing him again one day when we, who are saved by the blood of Jesus and cleansed from all unrighteousness, come to the end of our lives here on earth and join him in eternal rest. What a blessed hope!
A hospice staff member gave Evan a book to help him understand death, which he read out loud to us all.
The hospice chaplain prayed for our family and then invited us to pray, too. What an unforgettable experience.
The memorial service conducted by the hospice chaplain brought so much comfort to our family. We will always treasure the memory and are forever grateful to all the staff at the Doughtery Hospice House in Sioux Falls, SD.