I hope that's not an inappropriately trite title for a blog post, given Patrick's situation. But I know that thousands of you are checking (and re-checking) the blog to see what his status is, and I just want you to know: he's still with us.
We've had a WONDERFUL last few days with him, since he's been on high-dose steroids, and has regained some of his strength, alertness and an ability to feel and understand. He can't speak, but he knows what is being said to him. His mild facial expressions, slow nods of his biopsy-scarred head, and surprisingly strong grips of his hand tell us he loves us, he's with us, and that he will miss us when he leaves.
Thank you for all of your constant prayers for us, especially for Saturday's harrowing day of goodbyes. It was a day that was equally sweet and profound; both sad and joyful. PK's dad arrived from China and was able to connect with him, share his tender fatherly love and sweet memories of their family life growing up. Slowly our families began trickling in, and then my sister Amy brought Cecilia into see her Daddy, for the last time. She was far more brave and joyful than any of us expected her to be. Dressed in a shortened yellow hospital gown, she looked like a little angel, coming to bring some sort of cheer on Christmas Eve. She climbed up on his bed, gave him kisses and hugs, and (much to our delight and astonishment) he was able to kiss her back and squeeze her hand. We also brought in some gifts for him to give her, so that she'd always have something tangible to remember him by, in the dark days ahead. Heath, our new brother-in-law and filmmaker extraordinaire, taped the whole thing so that we'll be able to remember their parting moments, when she begins to forget or ask questions about her daddy.
We were joined by our two current priests, David and Erin, and also by John Yates, who is the Rector of The Falls Church and a longtime family friend of the Kellys. David led us in a tender service of last rites and Holy Communion. Although we cried through most of it, we were also reminded that there is much joy in the life to come. I am so thankful that God is greater than all of us, and that He will be remain with us through the challenging days ahead. Patrick's sterile hospital room was momentarily transformed into a seemingly hallowed space where, as family and friends surrounding his bed, we prayed for him, sang to him, and together remembered the life and death of our Savior, in whose strong arms Patrick will soon rest. Patrick's presence and involvement was such a blessing to all of us, (he even mouthed "Amen" at an appropriate time in the liturgy!)
It has been such a gift and answer to prayer to have him "back" with us these past few days, but of course we all dread the day when he will leave us for good. My heart is breaking, over and over with each new day, as I anticipate my life without him. And yet I know he is going to a much better place, where there will be no more mysterious cancers, no more hospital beds or IVs, no more tears, and no more death. We're not really certain how long he will hang on for; it could be hours, days or weeks.
For those of you wondering about a funeral service, or worrying about it interrupting your holiday vacation, I just wanted to give you a little heads-up on what we're "planning". Patrick has told me that he'd like his body to be given to NIH when he dies, so that they can do further research on his brain, and thus hopefully save other lives through what they learn, even though they couldn't ultimately save his. (His courage and generosity will extend even into his death.) So, depending on when he does pass, I would think we would wait until after the new year to have his memorial service. It will be held at The Falls Church, here in Northern Virginia. (Obviously, more info will be posted regarding that, but I wanted to pass that initial info along to you, in case you were curious/wondering/trying to make plans, etc.)
For now, I hope to spend as much time with him as I can, reminding him how much I love him, and how loved he is by so many others - all around the world. Thanks for your prayers, all of the food that has shown up on our doorstep over the past few days, the cards, presents, and endless words of encouragement. It's been such a blessing to be surrounded by such a huge, growing community during this time of such intense sorrow.
Peace be with you this Christmas season.