Losing Faith?

by Crystal Mullins Prater

My daddy smoked since he was a little boy and I knew some day it would catch up to him. I'm a very spiritual person, so my prayer has always been that God not let him suffer when it comes his time.

Me and daddy were always so close. He taught me how to fish, how to love, how to pray, how to live. I was (am) so proud that he is my daddy. He was a Baptist Preacher by heart and a barber by trade. I can't imagine anyone in the entire community that could have a bad word to say about him.

My mom always yelled at him for various small things. So much bitterness from her and still, he loved her to the ends of the earth. His life didn't exist without her.

Momma was put in the hospital on Christmas Eve for double pneumonia and daddy stayed one night with her. He became ill and my sister took him to the doctor the next day where he was diagnosed with flu. Both parents sick, Christmas was postponed at their house.

Mom got better and was released but dad just kept getting weaker. He wouldn't eat, and that's one thing my daddy loved to do. I took off work and took him to the ER on January 9, 2014. We planned on going out to eat after we got a shot of something to push the flu on out of his lungs. It was always a good day when it was just him and me. We talked about everything.

After a few hours, some chest x-rays, blood work and CT Scan, the doctor came in and told us he had cancer in his lung and it has spread to his liver. Boom! Just like that...CANCER. I'll never forget the look on my daddy's face, it was as if he was saying, "What about them apples"....trying to keep me calm, I'm sure. I was shaking so much, trying to process that sentence we just received...trying to wake up! I knew it was going to happen, but not right now. He's only 67 years old.

He refused to be put in the hospital that day because my mom wasn't with us. He wanted to go home and tell her and figure out what to do. With the doctor's diagnosis of Stage 4 (already) she let us leave with a prognosis of a week to a month.

Long story short, we went back and were admitted the next day. Testing started immediately. Brain scans, bone scans, more x-rays, blood work, marrow testing...all of this happening to my daddy who would before leave the room if someone was getting an IV.

I stayed with him almost every night. I watched him yell at me because I would stand outside the shower while he was in there and wouldn't let him go to the bathroom unless I was right outside the door. He said, "They are taking everything else. Please let me keep my dignity". That was the first two days.

The third day, we had to get a bedside toilet because he couldn't walk to the bathroom. He hated that I was there and had to lift him out of bed and help him make two steps.

Next day, he got a catheter. This is the day the pain started in his liver. The tests started coming back in. "The liver is completely replaced with cancer and the top lobe of the left lung; completely collapsed with a tumor." All the while, daddy keeps hearing this news and continues to say, "It's in God's hands. I'm so close I can almost hear the trumpets."

He did, however, want to fight it. "When do we start the chemo? Do we need to do radiation? Will they be coming to get me to start that soon?" Finally an oncologist came in. Our family was standing around Daddy, reminiscing and laughing a bit. She told us that there was no treatment that could be done. His kidneys were shutting down and treatment for his lungs and liver would speed that up.

Then the words that will forever live in my mind and weigh on my heart. My daddy looked up and said,

"So am I dying?"

A week before, he was working on some pipes under his house. This week, he's being told there's nothing that can be done. My daddy, the strongest man in the world...that could move a mountain if I REALLY wanted him to, reduced to this fear of the unknown; this knowledge that he will soon be separated from this world and his family, and all he's worked for and built with his hands.

Though I know with all of the faith in God he had and taught me and so many others about, he still told us he'd miss us. He KNEW there's no sadness in Heaven, but in his last days, he forgot that and was saddened by the fact he would miss us. Through all of this, he was still strong enough to wipe the tears from my eyes and grumble at me, "Don't you cry for me!"

On January 19th, 2014, ten days after we found out he had this terrible disease, he passed away. Quietly and in no pain. His pain medicine had kept him sedated for the last 18 hours or so. No gasp for the last breath, no jerk, just quietly, all of the machines went to zero.

Although my prayers were answered and my daddy didn't have to suffer much more than a week, the fact that he lost his faith (if only a little) and was so afraid to die haunts my soul every single day. I miss him so much! While I wouldn't bring him out of Heaven for all the gold in the world, I miss him. My heart hurts so much and when I close my eyes or have a slow minute at work, my mind goes back to the despair I saw on his little face when he finally accepted everything and asked, "So am I dying?"

How can I keep my faith strong when the strongest man I ever knew thought he would miss me when he went to Heaven? Will this vision of his fear ever leave or fade even a little? I don't want to forget anything about him, especially our talks at 3 a.m. those nights he woke up in pain, but I think I would like to shake this vision, this image of his lack of faith when I needed him to have it the most.

Comments for Losing Faith?

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Feb 21, 2014
Losing Faith?
by: Doreen UK

Crystal I am so sorry for your loss of your father. When we lose them it is the worst ever experience of our life.
Cancer is a devastating disease that affects the whole family. My husband smoked for 28yrs. and gave up 16yrs. before he died. He didn't die of lung cancer from smoking. He died from Asbestos fibres inhaled as a young man in his 20's when he worked with this material not known as a killer, which gave him this deadly terminal, incurable, inoperable, aggressive lung cancer. He struggled for 3yrs.39days and died 21 months ago. I am still struggling with losing him. My first love and my last.
I know of the terrible cancer journey which is filled with horror for chemo, radiotherapy, watching a strong man become emaciated from not eating and losing his strength for the weakness now taking over his body. Looking into the face of the one you love who is going to die and you watch and weep inside helpless to do anything more than care for them and make their days ahead the best you can. I prayed for healing and lost my faith when my husband was not healed. I felt I didn't pray hard enough or the wrong way. I have had my faith restored and realise now that it was his time to die and there was nothing anyone could do. It was in God's hands. It doesn't make my grief less painful. Just a process I have to go through.
It is normal to fear death even when one has the strongest faith. We can all lose our FOCUS for a moment and fear takes over. We become vulnerable to our own weakness, but this doesn't make one's strength less. Just more obvious showing one's humanity, and being vulnerable to the surrender of one's life when they want to hold on to life a lot longer. I saw the fear in my husband's eyes. I saw his hurt and pain at dying when he wanted to live. I heard his expression of wondering what it feels like to die. I reassured him that death was just A SLEEP. As God says. Only when you go to sleep you just don't wake up. I guess my husband understood this. death is scary when you see the casket go into the ground, even though the loved one cannot know anything of this because his breath has gone back to God. But I fear this myself because I will be buried in the same grave as my husband. A concrete chamber that houses 2 caskets. God knows how we feel and will make up the difference so we can bear it. Your father is at peace as also is my husband. They cannot be hurt anymore by life. They both await the call of Jesus to rise up out of their grave on the Day Jesus returns to earth for us as he promised. You will get your Faith back. WE all have a crisis of Faith at sometime in our lifetime. Even Preachers do. Often Grief affects our Faith, and then God restores it. Just wait on God and let Him Heal you in the days ahead. Just take one day at a time which is all God gives us. May God comfort you in your loss and give you His Peace and restore your Faith, while you wait on HIM.

Feb 20, 2014
Losing Faith
by: Nadine

Crystal, I can relate somewhat to what you are going through. My dad also smoked most of his life, ever since i can remember. He died in 1973 at the age of 72 from a stroke. I was 23 at the time. I also remember him as a strong, independent person who probably would have reacted much like your dad did. He had faith in God but my mom is the one i remember with the strongest faith. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1994 and died in 1995. I know her faith was well grounded in the Bible but yet i remember the doctor asking her if she was afraid of dying and she mumbled yes. I was surprised but never questioned her about it. Looking back i wish i had. I believe she died peacefully though unfortunately i wasn't with her at the time (caught up in traffic on a cold, rainy night :( It is never easy to say goodbye to those we love no matter how much faith we have. That is the best gift God gave us, love for one another. Just know your dad loved you and took that love with him to heaven. He is in a place unimaginably beautiful and one day you two will be reunited. God bless you and your family. Nadine

Feb 19, 2014
Dear Crystal,
by: Anonymous

Your post brought tears to my eyes, and I am sorry for your loss. Your father sounds like a beautiful and gentle man, and it sounds like you had a wonderful relationship. I lost my sweet father on January 14, 2013. He died suddenly, and there was no chance to say goodbye. I am thankful that by all accounts he didn't suffer, and he knew he was deeply loved by us all. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him. I saw him almost daily, and I miss our talks the most. I hope that as you begin to heal, you can take all of the wonderful things your father taught you and carry them with you in your heart. His love for you will always be there - he is simply on a different part of his journey now. This website has helped me through some very dark days, and I hope you visit here and get some strength as well. Wishing you comfort and peace in the days ahead, Barb

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