"When I was a toddler, my dad had back pain that nearly paralyzed him. Because of this, he would sleep on a mattress on my bedroom floor. When I wouldn't sleep, he would build a "soft cage" around me with pillows and blankets. He told me that when I would wake up during the night, he would feel a little hand reach over and slap his face. He said as soon as I felt his beard I would fall back to sleep. His back pain was so debilitating he could barely stand, with doctor after doctor saying they couldn't find anything wrong with him. He was prayed for one day and told that he had a spiritual knife in his back. The pain was rebuked and my dad was instantly healed.
Last year, I was standing in the Target bathroom when he called me from the hospital. He had checked into this hospital just days before, all the way across the country. After telling me that he had late stage cancer, I stood in this public restroom shocked, numb and broken with silent tears streaming down my face. His words that day ring in my ears and rattle my chest ... "Do you want to reach out to feel my beard, to make sure that I am still here?" Within a month he was rapidly declining.
I spent his last few weeks lying beside him all night, while he slept in his own soft cage. He needed help turning over because of his pain every couple of hours. I would lay awake listening to him breathe, and waiting to hear his whisper... "Anna, you awake?".
I cherish those hours I got to spend sitting there next to him in the dark, playing with his beard while he fell asleep."