My father won’t survive the weekend.

My dad has been sick for over a year, but in the last few months he has gotten really bad. He has a tumor in his throat that is so big he can’t even swallow a sip of water.

I flew to see him on Tuesday and my sister is coming in town in just a few hours. After he sees my sister, we are taking him off everything but the pain medication.

He’s in so much pain it’s just better for him to go.

I’m almost 28 years old and this is the first time someone close to me has died. I don’t really know how to handle it (I don’t think anyone does), but I’m doing my best to be strong, particularly for my step-mom and my sister.

My step-mom and my father were married for something like 20 or 25 years. She is an angel and has treated him as well as anyone could possibly treat him. She is an incredible woman and I need to be strong for her.

My sister has a very strong attachment to my father and it is going to hit her really hard when he does pass. It’s going to be terribly difficult for her to even see him this afternoon. More than anything, I’m here for her.

As far as my dad, the man in the hospital is not my dad. I do love him and I’m here for him, but I have to remind myself every day that I need to remember my dad as he was when he is healthy. The dad I want to remember is the one that was fully of energy. The guy who played golf every day and loved to bet on sports. The guy who always told me that if I ever needed anything I could just call him.

If there is a silver lining in this whole situation, it is that I have been able to see my dad and spend time with my family before he dies.

This isn’t a “financial” post, but I do want to point out a few things that made this possible. I don’t actually have an emergency fund that I could draw on to buy a plane ticket to go be with my dad.

What I did have was a lot of airline miles. Instead of spending $400-500 on a plane ticket, I was able to get one for basically free because I have frequent flyer miles. Miles aren’t just for vacations and fun. My credit card miles helped me see my dad before he dies.

My sister didn’t have the money for a ticket so my step-mom bought her one. Then my dad got worse and she had to change her ticket. They were trying to charge her $400 to change it, but she told the airlines that my father is a veteran from the Vietnam war. American Airlines did a great thing and changed her ticket for free because of my dad’s service. It’s great to see companies honoring our veterans like that.

Finally, I’m able to take time off work because my company has a bereavement leave policy. When an immediate family member dies, my company gives me 5 days off to attend the funeral and grieve.

Money shouldn’t be an issue at a time like this. This is what emergency funds are for. If you don’t have one then I suggest you get one ASAP.

If you don’t have an emergency fund (like me), miles and credit card rewards points can be a life saver. I knew my dad wasn’t healthy so I was kind of saving my points for this trip. If you have a good rewards program and can avoid blackout dates, you can travel in an emergency without spending anything out of pocket.

This was really just me dumping ideas out onto my blog because it’s making me feel better, but my takeaway is this: Prepare for a family emergency before it happens.

I was saving up those miles knowing I would need them. My sister didn’t have the luxury to save miles and/or money, and she needed help. Imagine the stress she went through thinking she might not be able to afford to see her dad before he dies.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, and please send them to my sister, my step-mom, and of course my dad.