It was all such a blur…

I have a sad story to tell.  My life has drastically changed in the past several weeks and it’s time to talk about it here on my blog. I have written it a million times in my head and retyped a million words. I’m not sure how to tell it…but I know I need to…so here goes. This story began on a typical Monday in October {the 15th to be exact} as I dropped Paige off at school in the afternoon and Grant joined me for a quick shopping trip. The weeks ahead would be busy {in our little world anyways} with school, MOPS, pony pictures, Halloween, a few upcoming parties, and “co-oping” in the kids classes at preschool every week in October…you get the idea. But after getting in touch with my crying sister…standing in the middle of Big Lots…with a bag of chips and some festive cupcake liners…I had the overwhelming feeling that today was going to change my life forever. All those events on the calendar were going to be cleared and my life was quickly being shifted.The conversation over the phone went something like this:
Wait, who is at the hospital?….
What do you mean they won’t tell you anything?…
Mom is on her way?….So it must be Dad?
Why won’t they tell you anything?
Oh my gosh I have to have someone pick up Paige from school…
I’ll be there as soon as I can.My mind raced with thoughts like this:
Oh my gosh…My Dad probably had a heart attack…
But maybe he is fine…
Lord, what do I do?
If he is laying there in the hospital and he is okay I have to tell him that his grand-kids need him and he cannot die yet…he is too young….
But maybe he is gone already…I bet he’s gone…
I’ve always dreaded this day…
Stay calm Laura, stay calm, stay calm…
Lord, help me get to the hospital in one piece…
Why is this taking so long to get there…what could it be?
Oh my gosh did Grant really fall asleep…why is there no parking spaces?
Lord, is this really happening?
The drive to the hospital took only 10 minutes, but as they say, it felt like an eternity. When I finally parked and grabbed my sweet, sleeping 3-year-old boy out of the car I quickly made my way to the emergency room doors and practically ran towards a receptionist {mumbling something about being related to the Morse family}. She led me to a nurse who rushed me into a family waiting room where a handful of people I knew were already sitting {in tears}. It’s difficult to describe but I felt like I was in a scene out of a sad movie. I was rushing through each step from the car to the waiting room…but everything around me seemed to be going in slow motion. I couldn’t hear anything but my heart beat and I quickly realized that everyone had averted his or her eyes from making eye contact with me. The air was still and there was a calm…and as the door closed behind me I heard my mom say something like, “Dad died…he had a heart attack…there was nothing they could do…he was golfing and he just collapsed…they think he died instantly…” And my tears fell. I heard her talking but I could not really compute what she was saying.  My heart skipped a beat.My thoughts raced and my prayers soared to heaven:
Lord why?
My Dad is really gone?
I had feared that this day could come but he just turned 60…he is still young…
And he just retired…
And we just had dinner in my home three nights ago…
How could he be gone?
Lord I trust you but I’m so sad…
Oh my gosh is this really happening…
My mom…she’s going to be fine but oh…and the kids…and my siblings…oh Lord…is this really happening?

As I looked at my crying mom & sister I slowly sat down and said something along the lines of… “Oh Mom, I’m so sorry…I’m so glad he did not suffer…oh my gosh…I’m in shock…Are you guys okay? At least we know that he is with the Lord…I’m so glad he did not suffer…oh my gosh…at least he died doing what he loved… he was just saying how great that would be (to die doing what you love) the other night…oh my gosh…I’m shocked.” Blank stare…shock…wow. People came in and out and I tried to figure out how to dial my husband’s number.  I remember just staring at the phone…trying to gather my thoughts and looking at the numbers as if I had never seen a phone before in my life…it was all such a blur.Later that evening, now joined by Aaron and home from the hospital, I had the painstaking task of telling Paigey {who adores her Grampy} the news. I started by saying that I had good news and bad news.  I asked her if Heaven was a good place or a bad place {we often talk about Heaven and what it is like there and how amazing God’s gift of salvation is…so I knew she would have the answer}. She said it was a good place and began to look confused. I took a deep breath and said, “The sad news is that Grampy died today…while he was golfing…but the good news is that he died doing what he loved and we know that he is in heaven with Jesus and we will see him again when we die someday…” She leaped into my arms as crocodile tears streamed down both of our face and she said, “I didn’t get to say goodbye…oh no…I didn’t get to say goodbye.” I looked at Aaron, who was now crying along with us, and as simply as I could I re-assured her that none of us said goodbye and that we all felt really sad about that too. As her innocent 5-year-old brain began to process the whole thing she went on to worry that he would forget her. Through my tears I assured her that Grampy would never and could never forget her. I told her that I hope he is one of the first people to greet her when she gets to heaven and that he loved her very much. We all hugged and cried and later that night I heard her whisper this sweet prayer to the Lord, “Dear God…please take care of my Grampy…I miss him…I love him…thank you that he is in heaven with you…Amen.” What an honest and articulate little prayer from her heart to Jesus…I’m in tears even now just thinking about it. That night we found her asleep…clinging to this picture of her with my parents…it was tragically beautiful to see her mourn through prayer and cling to memories of him.
Everything was a blur that day and yet everything was so clear:My Dad was no longer suffering with the trials of this life. I knew at that moment that he was in heaven with our dear sweet Jesus. He was with his parents and best friend and other loved ones that had gone before him. He was free from the big and small troubles of retirement, mortgages, traffic and failing hearts. He was free and alive in a way we can only imagine…and we will see him again as we know from God’s word in John 3:16 {For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life}. But oh our hearts were aching and numb and in shock at the same time. All was right with the world and yet things would never be the same for our family…my Paigey and my Grant would not get to grow up with their Grampy…I was losing my Dad…the Rock of our family…our constant generous provider who gave with no strings attached…who had put me through college and bought me my first guitar and walked me down the aisle and loved on my kids in a way I never expected…I had grown to love and understand and have grace for him more in the last 5 years than I had in my whole life and I was starting to see him in a new way post-retirement…my siblings were losing their Dad who they are both close to in many ways that I cannot even relate to…and my amazing mom was losing her husband of almost 40 years…how do you take that all in? My Dad was a great guy who loved me & my husband and our kids unconditionally. He loved the Lord and he took great care of my mom & our family. He was not perfect but he was my Dad. The emotions of that moment, of that day and even of today are hard to describe. What a bittersweet joy to be, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, {Absent from the Body, Present with the Lord!} My Dad was walking with our sweet savior Jesus…and somehow despite my heartbreak it was well with my soul.I would cling to God’s promises and His hope in the days and hours ahead as life has just seemed like an ongoing blur…{and especially now as the shock of it all is wearing off}. I’m amazed at how the Holy Spirit has kept me strong and can honestly say that I have felt your prayers and “the Peace that passes understanding” {that God’s word speaks of}. Thank you to so many of you who called, wrote notes, sent flowers and well-wishes, made meals and came to my Dad’s service. I will miss him terribly but look forward to the day when we can feast together again {knowing that it will be sweeter than any feast on this side of Heaven}! That is my story for now. I’m sure I will share more…but thanks for listening and I hope it encourages you to think about your life and consider putting your faith in Jesus.

In Loving Memory of my Dad:Walter Scott Morse
August 26th, 1952 – October 15th, 2012

Faithful Husband
Loving Father
Adoring Grampy
Respected Friend
Man of God


Wishing you and your family a very
Happy Thanksgiving.


UPDATE {6/16/13}: This post had some technical difficulties that required me to re-format it completely. Some of the pictures that I originally had on it are gone but the written content is the same. Thanks to so many of my loved ones and friends for taking the time to read this story about my Dad…I am so grateful. I hope it inspires you to go hug your Dad today & ultimately to consider putting your faith in Jesus. If you ever have any questions/comments please feel free to email me anytime at: laurapanfilio@gmail.com

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6 Responses to It was all such a blur…

  1. Anonymous December 1, 2012 at 8:23 AM #

    Oh Laura, I could not stop my tears from flowing as I was reading your letter. I’m so glad your mom put the link on facebook so I was able to read your tribute to your dad. I think of you all so often and pray that God will continue to hold you all in His great arms as you continue to grieve the loss of your dad.
    Cathy (Farrar)

  2. Aaron Barker December 2, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

    Thanks for sharing Laura.
    Thinking and praying for you and your family.

  3. *laura* December 5, 2012 at 12:20 PM #

    Thanks Aaron & Cathy! So thankful for all the support and prayers! xo

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. {thoughts on GRIEF} | everydayVALENTINE - October 14, 2013

    […] This is my story of grief and how I am working through it. Last year, on October 15th it was a normal Monday when I woke up. It started off with normal things like breakfast and lunch and by dropping Paige off at school and running some errands. By the end of the day our lives would be changed forever. My Dad was golfing in the morning with his regular golf group {something he loved doing} and had just finished the last hole of 18 that morning. We were told that after picking up his ball and putting the flag in place he took a few steps and collapsed. His friends worked to do CPR and attempt to resuscitate him.  The fire department raced to find the golf hole he was on {Castlewood’s golf course is place beautifully up in the hills above Pleasanton and not an easy place to try to find someone in an emergency}. Even the doctors & nurses at the hospital tried to revive his heart…but he had experienced a massive heart attack and there was nothing that could be done. In my gut I believe that he was supposed to die that day. He was in a place that was very difficult to reach and I just believe that this was his time. I’m so thankful to the men who were there and attempted to save his life…but I felt then and even now that it was just his time. Three nights before he died we celebrated our “Fun Fall Dinner” {a tradition that I have done with just Aaron and the kids every fall but had decided at the last-minute to include my parents and sister in on that year} and we all sat around the table talking for hours. My parents had just gotten back from their amazing trip to the East Coast. It had been their first trip to New York City & D.C. together and we wanted to hear all about it. Six weeks before this night my dad had retired and turned 60. Big changes were going on in my parent’s lives and we asked him a lot of questions about how his new retirement felt. He mostly just mentioned how great it was to golf 4 days a week at the club and said he had a long list of things to take care of but was enjoying the free time more than he expected. We also talked a lot about a memorial service that they had attended that week. A woman at our church had died while scuba diving {something she had loved doing}. She had heart failure right there in the water and went to be with the Lord all too soon. My parents talked about how lovely her memorial service was & strong her husband was. He was faithful to trust in the Lord as his strength. The gospel of Jesus was proclaimed and they left feeling encouraged, having celebrated her life. We all commented on the fact that at least she died while she was doing what she loved.  My parents had known someone who died while golfing years back and my dad even said something to the effect of “If you are going to go…you might as well be doing what you love…I wouldn’t mind dying on the golf course if it was my time…” {now remember this was only 3 days before he died}. Every time I start to feel sad about his death I remembered that at least he got his wish…and I’m confident that he is with our Savior in Heaven and better off. You see, I just had that peace that it was his time. I could dwell on the fact that I didn’t hug him goodbye that night {oh what I would have told him if I had known that was the last time I would see him on this side of Heaven}…but at least I had a great night with him. In God’s kindness he allowed my dad to say those words of reassurance that only made sense on Monday evening…it helped us to know that in hind-sight it was going to be okay and he was better off and he got his wish in a sense. It was my dad’s time and that it was going to be okay.  My story of how I found out he had died and my first set of emotions can be found HERE. […]

  2. {A letter to my DAD} | everydayVALENTINE - October 15, 2013

    […] letter to my Dad today…this is what I would write. For more on my Dad’s death you can read HERE and for more of my thoughts on grief you can read […]

  3. {missing my dad} | everydayVALENTINE - October 15, 2014

    […] is the two-year mark of my dad’s death {you can read about that HERE, HERE & HERE}. I can hardly believe it. Mostly we are just celebrating his life today but of […]

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