Keep Running the Race

In honor of Illinois Marathon week here in central Illinois, I thought I’d do a throwback to my Facebook post from the day my Dad died…

A little after 1:00am on December 10, 2016, my Mom called to tell me my Dad was gone.  She sounded tired, yet fine.  I asked her if she was okay and she told me yes, that she just had this feeling of relief.  Relief that my Dad was no longer suffering, relief that he was no longer under the spell of Alzheimer’s, and relief that my Dad had finally been given his reward of what he had wanted all along… to go home.

I didn’t cry.  At first.

But I couldn’t go back to sleep.

So, what do you do at 1:00am when you can’t sleep?

You obviously take to Facebook.

Here was my post from that morning:

Yesterday afternoon, after months of being the strong, ever optimistic daughter, I laid across the chest of my dying father sobbing. It’s the first time throughout this journey with him that I’d ever done that… just inconsolable, full fledged bawling. Sure, I’d shed a few tears before, but nothing like this. The hospice nurse had just left and said we were down to days or hours, and it finally sunk in, seeing him laying there, that soon I’d be living a life without him in it. Soon he’d be finishing the race he had started and crossing God’s finish line. And so I cried. And I told him over and over that I loved him. That he was a great dad. That I was so sorry, sorry for what has happened to him, sorry for not being stronger, and not happy during his final moments. I told him how much I was going to miss him, but that we’d be okay. I told him I’d watch out for Mom. I stroked his silver hair and squeezed his hand, hoping he’d give me a squeeze back. But, he didn’t. Instead, I saw a single tear by his eye. Maybe it was nothing. Or maybe it was his final way of showing me just how much he loved me, too. As I left I smothered him in kisses, reminded him one final time of my love for him, told him I’d be back, but that if he had to go before I returned, to go knowing I’d be okay.
I’m not okay.
He couldn’t wait for me to come back.
And now, I’m sad.
My heart is shattered into a million little pieces.
I’m angry.
I’m mad.
Mad at this awful disease.
Mad at myself.
But, not with God.
He blessed me with an amazing father.
But I am furious with Satan.
His hands are all over this disease.
He’s not going to win.
My Dad did.
He lived a great life. He loved the Lord and always had his sights on heaven. And now, late last night he was given his eternal reward.
I have no doubts my Dad loved me or that he wanted every happiness in the world for me, that he’d run to the ends of the Earth for me, but my goodness I’m going to miss that fuzzy head. It only encourages me to keep running the race before me. To finish strong, so that one day, hopefully soon, we can all rejoice together. That’s what he’d want me to do.
Maybe God kept him here a little longer because He knew I needed that cry. That I needed to come to peace with the hand we’d been dealt.
Maybe. Who knows.
But for now, I’m going to hold on to our last moments together, find comfort in His love, be sad, and thankful there are no tears in heaven.

And keep running.

Proudly displaying our medals after crossing the finish line together


I’ve taken a little hiatus from blogging as I was feeling a mix of emotions, sadness being the main one.  I wish I could say I’m feeling better, but each day has it’s new struggles.  I’m trying to help you all navigate Alzheimer’s, while I am actually trying to navigate my grief.  But God is still good, is always good, and will continue to be my ultimate comforter.  Thank you so much for the support.

5 thoughts on “Keep Running the Race

  1. Judy Roberts says:

    He loved running that 5K with you! He trained so hard but in the end couldn’t go it alone for fear of getting lost. Keep writing, Heather. Someone told me last night how much they have enjoyed your blog and that it had helped them, too. Your Dad is incredibly proud of you and so am I. Love you, sweet girl!

  2. Erwin Mannchen says:

    It’s good to see someone giving Alzheimer’s the attention it deserves. Only those touched by it have the slightest idea of how it affects the whole family. Losing my wife to it last month I found myself experiencing the same feelings you wrote about. I thought the three years she spent in a Nursing Home would help prepare me for living alone, but this did not prepare me for no longer having those visits where we would talk, or to just sit enjoying each other’s company. It’s high time that much more be done in seeking a cure for this evil.

  3. Aunt Susan says:

    I remember reading your Facebook post the day your sweet dad went on to his eternal reward. I can still feel the hot tears flowing down my cheeks and becoming a puddle on my neck! I can also remember the joy your dad got from running this race with you, and how he laughed when he told me you ran with him until the end, then, you TRIED to beat him. Your dad loved to run, especially with you! I love you darlin girl. Keep reminding us of the happier days before stinkin Alzheimer’s joined our family! XOXOXO

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