There are many ways I could have shared this news with you, but I choose to do so this way. I’ve chronicled here, and mentioned many times, the significance the number “11” has taken on in my life. It wasn’t until well into the phenomenon of it showing up everywhere, that a friend enlightened me to the fact that it was the Biblical number for transition. During the time it began for me, there was much transition happening in my life. Ever since then, I’ve continued to steadily see it in various forms (usually 11:11), to greater or lesser degrees. When it escalates, it always signals more transition.
So when I saw 11:11 four times within a 24 hour period over New Year’s Eve/Day, I knew it meant something was coming. Transitions often happen for me around the first of a year. I can remember many, many years ago when life seemed to be going along just fine, but as the New Year approached, I had a foreboding feeling I could not shake. Very shortly after the calendar changed, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, while simultaneously my father was hospitalized with a mysterious heart ailment. It was a very stressful several months before things “normalized” again.
Of course, for the past five years, as the calendar changes, the dates begin reminding me of the approaching anniversary of my mother’s death on 1/11. As I noticed the date the day before, I made a conscious decision that this year, I would briefly acknowledge the day and move on. No memorial blog post or time of going through remembrances. But later that day, all of that changed.
As I recounted in my Thanksgiving blog post, just 7 weeks ago today, my birthfather had been diagnosed with cancer at the same age my mother was when she passed away. He then finally revealed my existence to his oldest son, my brother, who has since been keeping me informed as to my birthfather’s treatment and progress. I spoke with my birthfather just one more time on December 3, following the Thanksgiving weekend they had called. It was before he was to begin his radiation treatments. Although the doctors were quite optimistic that the small sizes and types of tumors meant a good prognosis, my birthfather didn’t feel the same. When I asked him why, he said, “I’m just so tired.” But he said he felt such a relief and weight had been lifted, now that he had told my brother about me. Although I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be our last conversation, I still told him how much I loved him and how grateful I was that he’d wanted to know me and that we’d had a relationship all these years, despite the less than ideal circumstances. He apologized again that it had not been more, but told me how much he loved me and was proud of me.
The updates I received from my brother the past several weeks were mostly positive. There was a setback at one point when the doctor doing the radiation on the three tumors in his brain, decided “on the fly” to do them all at the same time, instead of spacing them out as previously planned. That was too much for my birthfather’s body and it threw several other things out of whack, causing him to have to be hospitalized for several days. But he rebounded from that, tolerated the rest of the radiation treatments on his lung well, and was making good progress. He had entered a two month pause between treatments, at the end of which, they would re-scan everything and see what progress had been made.
This past Tuesday, I had gone shopping in Manta and was riding back with Mesfin and Elaine. She asked how my birthfather was doing and I gave her the updates I knew. I told her my brother had been very gracious to keep me informed and although I’m sure my dad had not had any time alone to call me, I missed talking with him and hoped during this recovery period he might be able to call. But when I arrived home, I saw I’d missed a call from my brother. Up until now, he’d been sending email reports, so I thought the call, along with not leaving a message, was not a good sign. I sent a text message and anxiously waited to hear back. Shortly after, Craig called to give me the news that although my birthfather had continued to make very hopeful and positive progress, he’d taken a sudden turn for the worse a few nights prior. They were not certain what happened (possibly a tumor ruptured), but he was no longer conscious, not eating or drinking, and they had him at home on hospice, who said it wouldn’t be long.
I spent all day yesterday grieving all of this, along with the flood of memories it brought up surrounding my mother’s death. Then this afternoon, I received another call from Craig to let me know that my birthfather had passed away – just one day after the five year anniversary of my mother’s death, at the same age of 87.
And remember the number “11” that signifies transition? Not only did I see it four times over New Years (and plenty of times since), but yesterday while working through all of this, I booked a bee call job and when I was given the address, it was 1111 and the appointment was for 11:00 on 1/11.
When talking with my good friend Rissa yesterday, she reminded me how often what is happening in our individual lives, is happening to others too. She shared with me that she knew of several other people who have been thrust into a time of sudden transition at the beginning of this year. Not to mention that America and the world are in a big state of transition at the moment as well. As I’ve said before, I believe all this transition is rapidly leading to the ultimate transition, when…
“The kingdom of the world (becomes) the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
Until then, I will miss you, Jerry.