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Today is your birthday. Your earthly birthday. The day God chose for you to be gifted to us. We had 43 years celebrating you! Loving you in a very tangible way. With a hug. A kiss. Laughter that was so contagious! A passionate, opinionated, caring individual. God chose 43 years was all that we would have. He didn't want to wait any longer. He wanted you home and so now you celebrate your second birthday in heaven with Him and the people who we love that have also gone on to heaven.

There are days that seem still so unreal that you aren't here. I can't call you to hear your voice. To tell you how much I love you! To tell you that you are the best baby brother a sister could ever have. You are missed more than I have words to express but I have memories that will never be taken away from me. Even near the end, I can recall things that you said and did that make me laugh out loud. I love Doug! Forever in my heart!

Thursday, March 13 | Precious Memories with Doug

It's been a while since I have put my thoughts to words and posted my memories from the week I spent taking care of my baby brother in March. I miss him so much. Sometimes I feel this is a bad nightmare and when I wake up everything will be the way it was but it won't. He is not in earthly form. I can't reach out and touch him or hear his voice. The joy and hope I have is that he lives in heaven. He walks and talks with Jesus. He is no longer in pain.


You had a restless night sleep. When I came downstairs you looked so tired. Your eyes so sunken and dark. I sat near you and we just looked at each other. No words exchanged. I told you it breaks my heart to see you in so much pain. How I wish this evil disease would be taken from you! I couldn't stop the tears!

Every movement is a struggle for you. I'm trying to be strong and keep it together. I don't want you to see me cry because you will say you're sorry for being sick and I don't want you to feel guilty. We are here for you and I'm not going anywhere.

I wanted to journal our week because I don't want to forget one moment spent with you...just you and me! I'm sitting here in the quietness, writing my thoughts, listening with headphones to worship music, watching you sleep, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Pastor Nate came today and I had a great talk with him. We talked about our family and what is was like growing up with you as my brother. Telling him how I always wanted to take care of you and how I use to worry about you. We talked about how you came back to Christ. How you wanted more and more of Him. How you loved Jesus and how strong your faith was. Even through this terrible journey. This dreadful disease. He prayed scripture over you. He prayed for you and Melissa and for our family. Special times to be treasured.

You sat up for a while this afternoon and we talked about a bunch of things, nothing in particular. It was nice to talk. We took a picture for mom with our hats that she crocheted for us. You look so different from when I saw you in January. You tried your best to smile. Still is a beautiful smile. You looked at the photo and commented about the way you looked. I don't think you had looked in a mirror in quite awhile. I said to you, with tears in my eyes that you looked beautiful! Although there is cancer running through your veins there is LIFE running through your veins.

Doug & Me | March 2014

Doug & Me | March 2014

At the time, I said I wouldn't post the photo. We would send it to mom because it would be special for her. I am posting it here today because you have always been a special boy. I honor your courage and faithfulness.  You will never know how many lives you have touched.


Pastor Nate told me you couldn't stop talking about me coming to visit you. You told me today you don't want me to leave. I don't want to leave you baby! I love you so much and I'm realizing just how precious time is!

I've been so emotional today. I'm not sure why today is any worse than any other day but I think part of it is that my time is quickly coming to an end for this time and I hate that. I wish I had adequate words to describe the love I have for you!

I was listening to worship music today and I came across this song called Come to Me by Bethel Music. This song really spoke to me today.


Tonight, Melissa and I had a "joy and liberty" party with BBQ Chicken Pizza. You were punchy. Making jokes and making us laugh. You make me smile Doug. I love to see the real "you" come up through the pain and frustration!

I love you sweet brother!

Tuesday, March 11 | Precious Memories With Doug

You slept most of last evening, Melissa went to bed late. I was on my way to bed too but you were awake and wanted someone to sit with you. You said to me, "is it selfish of me to ask you to stay up?" I told you I was here for you and I would do anything for you. We watched TV until 1:30am and I thought you were asleep but you weren't completely asleep. I tried to be quiet but those bells on the door gave me away. You called out for me. You were so worried about me and you wanted to make sure I was OK. You make me smile!

Nurse Pam came this morning to change your needle and check you out. She is a nice lady and she demonstrates grace and mercy. I am grateful she is the one sent by God to take care of your medical needs.

You have been quite alert today. We talked a little about how you apologize for being sick. You thought Melissa was upset with you but she wasn't. We talked about how Melissa took vows with you...for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. She takes care of you because she loves you so much. Sometimes she has not so good days and sometimes you don't have good days but it's finding a balance and being patient with each other.

I know thoughts can sometimes weigh you down. We cannot imagine how you feel physically and that can cause your mind to go into overdrive but we are here for you as strength.  We are on this journey together. There isn't anything we wouldn't do for you. We will not stop praying for a miracle.

So now you rest. So peaceful. Watching your chest move up and down. Breathing. That means life. For your life, I am grateful!


Monday, March 10 | Precious Memories With Doug

This post and the few to follow are from March 2014. I visited my brother and sister to take care of Doug while Melissa continued to work. This is when I started writing.

I wanted to document memories. I never published them. I was too afraid of people seeing my heart. How I have been affected by this journey. Heartache. Pain. Suffering. Cancer. Death. More importantly I wanted to share with you what a great man of God Doug was. How I am learning about faith through Doug's life and testimony. Giving up control and letting God be in control. I want you to know how much I loved this boy and how life will never be the same.

I am blessed! So fortunate! I get to spend time with you this week. I am excited to see what this week holds for us.

I was so tired this morning!  I'm sure it was because I was alone last week. I'm still trying to adjust to life without Osa. It could be because I had an early flight yesterday but nonetheless, I am here. A week I have waited for with anticipation.

You slept a lot this morning. I couldn't take my eyes off of you.  I took you in. Your breathing. The way you sleep in awkward ways, having your arms in the air above your head. I'm watching you and remembering things about us. Realizing how much I love you. Watching you struggle to do easy tasks. Everyday tasks. You can't sit up by yourself, you can't get up and walk, you can't go to the restroom, you can't shower. You can't do any of that for yourself. I watch you get frustrated. I am so glad to be here to help you with whatever you need.

Because you get frustrated, you and I have a pact. We will be patient with each other. I will do whatever you need but I won't push you to do anything until you are ready. If getting you in a seated position takes an hour than that is what is takes. It's you and me little brother.

After you woke up from this mornings nap we had a nice conversation. Precious times. You had me go to your closet and get a rifle that you built. You could hardly hold it (it is very heavy) and you talked to me for an hour about how you built it and milled it out. It was something that was meaningful to you, time and money invested and you realized that you probably won't ever be able to use it again. It was difficult to hear those words and I know it was even more difficult for you to verbalize this truth but this is what life looks like right now. Our priorities have changed and your life is the most important. More important than possessions.

I think the demonstration of how the rifle works and trying to hold it (needing help) took so much out of you. You have been asleep most of the afternoon. I look at you and your frail body. I wish I could take it away. I wish God would heal you!!

Today is my birthday. Being here with you is the greatest gift. As a young child I always wanted to make sure you were cared for, that's what big sisters do. So I am grateful that I get to take care of you this week.

You are a beautiful sight, Doug! I love you with all my heart!


photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

The words to this song keeps playing over and over in my mind. This song was sung at Doug's Celebration Service. I have been deeply affected by my brother's faith, life and death. It is so close to Easter and it seem no coincidence. The Easter story is such a moving story.

Today's devotion talked about how the Father raised His Son from the dead. Christ's work was complete. Sin and Death defeated. The grave is not our final resting place. There is a celebration that awaits us in heaven.

I can't fathom the love The Father has for us...for me. The last verse really tugs at my heart. It says,

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

 "How Deep The Father's Love For Us"

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

It's a Celebration

It's been a few days and finding the words are proving to be difficult. The viewing and service celebrating Doug's life took place Thursday and Friday. Traveled Saturday. Decompressing. Learning what it means to live life without Doug. Overwhelmed.

We are so blessed at how many people came to pay their respects. We saw people from years past. We saw and heard from people we went to school with. We saw people who didn't even know him but came to support me. I love to hear the stories.

I want to tell you a little bit about who Doug was. My parents talk about how he was a wonderful son and the bond that each of them had with him. He was a faithful and loving husband to Melissa. She loves her "Shnooks!" He was an awesome brother who taught me a lot about how to be strong and how relying on God is the only way to get through life.

He was raised to love the Lord. He was a prodigal for a time. Who hasn't been? He found Christ again and wanted to follow Him. He wanted to be the person God made him to be. God kept perfecting him. He wanted all of what God had for him. Doug's faith was strong. He lived out his faith. He was passionate and caring for others.

When Doug was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer, Doug and Melissa made a covenant decision that through this trial if one person came to know Christ it would be worth it. We have read and heard stories of people publicly recounting stories of their own faith journey because of Doug's example. One great story is one of their friends reached out to Melissa and asked where she could get a bible. Doug was still able to communicate so Melissa told him she was going to give her one of his bibles. This friend told my mother that she will never be the same because of Doug.

My brother had a lot of things. I wanted the afghan mom made him for his birthday this past January. He loved that thing and used it all the time. But more importantly I wanted one of his bibles. Melissa gave me the bible he liked to take to church. I was looking through it to see if there were any markings. I found a few that were dated around the time of his diagnoses. A passage from Psalm 119:153-156 was highlighted. He prayed this to the Lord just 10 hours before he found out the cancer was stage 4. His faith never wavered.

photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

Doug clung to Jesus. He knew that he was going to see Jesus! He is living in Heaven. He is perfect. No pain! His prayer was answered...he is at peace resting in the arms of Jesus.

We shared some great times these last few weeks. He made us laugh and smile despite the extreme pain he was in. I will treasure these moments for a lifetime. I miss him! There is a void left in this family. I love you Doug, with all my heart!

So we celebrate this life of Douglas Edward Hale III
A son, brother, husband, a child of God.

January 19, 1971 - April 8, 2014

photo credit: I Do Photography Inc.

photo credit: I Do Photography Inc.

The struggle is real...but great the reward

I struggle to find the words. They aren't adequate to describe the emotion or the love I have experienced this week but I have to share.

We came as fast as we could. Doug had been rushed to the hospital because he couldn't catch his breath and spiraled into an anxiety attack. Heart rate at dangerous levels. I think this was the first time he realized that he was on borrowed time.  

He talked to mom and Melissa and he wanted them to pray for peace and calm. All he wanted was to go to sleep and wake up in the arms of Jesus. When I arrived he had the same talk with me. I wanted to be strong but this big sister was not. I told him I wasn't at peace. I was not ready for God to come for him. I needed more time. We needed a miracle. You know, the healing kind that God is in the business of doing. I sat next to his bed and held his arm and wept. He said he would  "pray for peace for me too and for me not to be sad."

Every morning I came down and told the sweet boy that I loved him and gave him a kiss. We talked and I said, "one day soon you will see Jesus. You will be perfect and in no more pain. " He said, "yup, I'll see Jesus."

Most of the week he was engaged. Communicating. Making us laugh...I mean belly laughing! We took turns staying with him. He wanted "slumber parties." He wanted family to be around him. He didn't want to be alone.

Saturday evening he became less responsive. He didn't speak. His eyes mostly closed. But even in that state, you could see he was trying to engage. A flicker of the eye. The corner of his lip up trying to smile.

It was so painful to see him suffer. We sat here everyday by his side. Comforting him. Taking care of him. Loving him. He struggled.

It culminated the evening of the 7th. The struggle was real! Arms up in the air, over his head, then crashing down on the bed. Chest moving up and down at various speeds. Clearly agitated. Clearly in distress. With family surrounding Doug, mom prayed over Doug, releasing him into the arms of Jesus but Doug was not ready. Fighting for a total of four hours.

After four hours at 1:28am on April 8, 2014, Doug left this earth and entered heaven to be with our Heavenly Father. He is no longer in pain and is made whole and perfect in God's sight.

We miss him so much but are comforted he is at peace with our father in heaven. 





I don't have adequate words today to describe the emotions that fill my heart. It seems we are in the last hours or day of what would be Doug's earthly stay on this earth. God is preparing Doug's new home.

I said to a friend today, as stubborn as Doug has been to Nurse Pam about what he wanted or didn't want, she started to tear up. He has touched so many peoples lives. He will never know. My friend said, "He is a living testimony and will always be remembered for his strength and his faith and his stubbornness." She said she believed it's that stubbornness has in fact renewed my faith. And that because of that, my change has touched other people too, especially her.

She also said that soon Doug will be an angel. In my eyes, he already is.

The Hospice Chaplin came today to offer prayer and she read John 16:33 to Doug.

It made me think of the Jeremy Camp song, Overcome. I've actually been singing it for weeks now.

Seated above, enthroned in the Father's love
Destined to die, poured out for all mankind
God's only Son, perfect and spotless one
He never sinned but suffered as if He did

All authority
Every victory is Yours
All authority
Every victory is Yours

Savior, worthy of honor and glory
Worthy of all our praise, You overcame
Jesus, awesome in power forever
Awesome and great is Your name, You overcame

Power in hand speaking the Father's plan
You're sending us out, light in this broken land

We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb
And the word of our testimony, everyone overcome

Your Will, O God

In the devotional book Revealing Jesus by Darlene Zschech, today's devotional is entitled Your Will Be Done.  God doesn't force his will on us. He offers his unconditional love, but it's our choice to accept or reject it.

In the humanness of Jesus, he asked God if the cup that contained all sin, all evil and all the pain of mankind could be avoided. He didn't wait for a response. He knew his mission. He simply restated, "your will be done." Jesus showed us how to completely trust. He also teaches us the most important prayer we can utter: Your will, O God.

photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

I don't want to be selfish. Watching my brother fight for every day, every moment, every breath is so difficult to watch. Even though it's difficult I would not want to be anywhere else.

I watch this man whose funny loving spirit is inside of him but is masked by so much pain. I am afraid of the void he will leave behind. For a wife. A parent. A sibling. But I'm comforted to know that he loves Jesus! He prays constantly to God Our Father. Even in the pain and suffering. There is no doubt that he will see Jesus and look into his Glory. 

So through tears, a broken heart, I need to pray like Jesus prayed. Your Will, O God! 

There is Power in the Name of Jesus

We had a bit of a scare this morning. It started around 4:00am. The hard cough. The phlegm. The obstruction in his lungs and throat. The inability to breathe rationally. Graphic I know but terrifying for an hour.

My mom is amazing. Helping him with the suction. Calming him. Soothing him. Bernie with the ability to give helpful suggestions in a calming way. And me sitting back not knowing what to do except pray. 

I prayed, "God, in the name of Jesus clear his throat. Give relief for a moment, in the name of Jesus." As I was finishing my last words of that prayer the garbage came up and there was relief. His breathing calm.

Now we try to rest.


photo credit: laura dake

photo credit: laura dake