Five Year Anniversary

Here we are.

April 8.

Five years ago we surrounded Doug and prayed over him. We prayed that he could breathe. He was struggling so badly. We prayed that God’s will would be done.  We cried. We loved on him. I went to bed after midnight and at 1:28am God took him home.

It still seems unreal! Sometimes it seems like it was yesterday and other times it feels like a lifetime!

I was fortunate to call him brother.  We had a very special relationship. He made me laugh! I cried and prayed over him when he was making poor life decisions! I am so thankful for those special people who prayed fiercely for Doug. People besides my parents.

Cyndy Morris, you are one of those people. Who were our “Virginia mom” and I know you spent hours on your knees praying for Doug’s salvation. I love you!

I am forever grateful to Rob and Amy Reardon. You were pastors who took Doug under your wing. You invited him to Sunday school and coffee. You watched him change into the God loving man he became.

There are many more but these special people come to my mind. Because of the prayers and  actions of God’s people I am confident that Doug resides in heaven with the Father and that is the only thing that eases the pain.


Another year...another anniversary

Here we are. Another year has passed. Let’s be honest, this year has flown by! Year after year time moves at warp speed.

January 19 was the day my brother was born.  I wish that I was throwing a big party for him. Making him his favorite foods. Celebrating him!

The last birthday we celebrated was four years ago. He went off chemo that month because it wasn’t doing it’s job. It’s one job was to shrink the tumor instead it was sucking the life out of Doug. 

Doug relied on his faith and in the journey that God had for him. I think we knew what that journey may look like we but prayed fervently that a miracle would take place. 

So here I am, four years later still trying to understand why. Why Doug? Why our family? I guess I won’t know this side of heaven. 

Today will always be your day! You would be 47 years old today. I will always celebrate you and what you meant to me. Today you celebrate in heaven and I can’t even imagine!

I will love you always! Happy birthday kid! 

Three Year Anniversary

As I lay my head down tonight (Friday night), my mind is consumed with thoughts and memories of three years ago. We laughed. We cried. He struggled. It is almost paralyzingly. I went to bed hoping that he would make it through the night and a few hours later Doug entered heaven. I miss him so much! But I am confident that he lives in heaven with God The Father. I can't even imagine. 

I am reminded of these beautiful words:


He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;

To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.


When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources

Our Father’s full giving is only begun.


His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.


I looked up into the sky through the trees while I was walking around the dog park this morning. I want to believe that the clear skies and sunshine are sign from heaven that all is well.  


Two years?

Where has the time gone? Two years, how can that be?  

There still isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you. Sometimes it still doesn't feel real. The other day I was thinking about you and then reality hit me that I will never see you in the flesh again. You aren't just a phone call away. 

The legacy of your life lives on through the people that love you. You were a living testimony and I talk about you to people and I share your testimony.  

Tomorrow will be a day of mixed emotions. There will be sadness because we miss you so much. There is also rejoicing because two years ago you met Jesus. Face to face. What could be better than that? 

April 8 is a significant day in the Dake house. We are bringing our German shepherd puppy, Luger home after two years of Osa has being gone. We will be together getting to know our pup and reminiscing about you. There was never a dull moment with you. We are better people because of having you in our lives so there will be tears and laughter.

I miss you Doug! I am so lucky to have had you as my brother. You were simply the best! 

Photo credit: Digital Memories by Debbie Koehler

Photo credit: Digital Memories by Debbie Koehler

Relay for Life

I think about you everyday Doug. You are loved and missed. The one thing you wanted to come of this journey was for people to know Christ. You have touched more lives than you could've ever known. You have profoundly changed my life.  

Last Friday we participated in a relay for life in memory of Doug. My friends, the Farrell's came and hung out with my parents and me at Lilburn Park. It was a beautiful evening with friends as well as the weather.  

I didn't know what to expect when I signed up for a team. In honor and memory of Doug. Team Dougie Fresh. His friends called him that. Some of his family and certain friends [i.e.  John Zanders] call him Dougie. The name that carried over from childhood. I call him my brother and friend.

This relay was on a smaller scale unlike the event being held at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in the next couple of weeks. It was very nice for our first experience. We talked. We laughed. We walked. We shed a few tears thinking abouth this man, this gift from God that we had for 43 years. A son. Brother. Husband. Grandson. Nephew. Friend.

As the luminaries we being placed around the track, my loving "pop" as Doug would call dad, walked around the track to find Doug's luminary. He found it! We took photos of this memory. As the night skies became dark, a bag piper played as everyone who participated walked around the track holding a lit candle. The path was lit by luminaries for survivors, for those who are currently suffering with this evil disease we call CANCER and those who have gone on to a better place we know as heaven. It was a beautiful moment.  

Thank you to all my that helped me achieve my goal. We surpassed it! 


A year already?

April 8, 2014. 1:28am.

I can't believe that Doug has been in heaven for a year! It is insane to think that is possible. A year ago my family sat around my brother's bed, trying to make him comfortable, we laughed, we cried, we had "sleep overs", we joked, we played music, and we prayed. 

It's interesting how your prayers change from, God we beg you for a miracle, for a healing to take place to God take this child because his pain has consumed every part of his physical being.

Some people tell me it will get easier and thinking about him every day will become less painful as the years go by. It is true that this day last year I could not comprehend that I would be where I am today but I have thought about Doug in some way or another, every day! Sometimes it is in the form of laughter. Some through tears! Sadness. Happiness. Thankful that I had 43 years with this soul but the pain is still there. Sometimes it doesn't seem real. But it is SO real. 

Sometimes it is the smallest things that will trigger a memory. I was in Target the other day and at the end of an isle there was a display of small fans. I immediately texted Melissa a picture. Melissa purchased this fan for my brother to keep on the table next to his bed. The air circulating on his face helped keep his breathing under control. The fan was a part of his collection of things he had near him like his flashlight and lip balm. :)

I am most grateful for Doug's testimony and his love for Jesus. The little brother of this big sister prayed for me to be at peace when I wasn't. Prayed for me to not be angry with God. There was a time when Doug was very far away from the love of God. Thank God he was the one not far from Doug. Because of Doug's surrender he lives in heaven today with Jesus. 

Thank you to our faithful family and friends that prayed Doug would see Jesus for who he was. Faithful. Loving. Generous. Forgiving. And...Healer. Not necessarily the way I wanted him to be healed but in God's perfect healing and timing.

I miss you Doug just as much today as the day you left us here on earth. The day you were healed and made perfect. I will never let your memory fade away. I promise! 

April 24, 2015 we are participating in a relay for life at Lilburn Park at 5:00pm. If you would like to contribute to cancer research in honor/memory of Doug, please click on the link to donate.

My tragedy will be a mark of God's faithfulness

"My tragedy - my loss - will not mark my life with sadness. My tragedy will be a mark of God's faithfulness in the storm. I will not carry a cloak of sadness, but my story will be a megaphone for what God can do with a shattered heart. The desert gives way to the harvest. That's what my life will proclaim." - Jill McCloghry 

My beautiful friend saw this posted on the @pcc_thegrove Instagram. This statement really resonates with me. We are approaching the one year anniversary of Doug's death. It is unreal. In some respects time has flown by and on the other hand, time has stood still. 

I think about Doug everyday and I miss him so much! Doug was a living testimony to God's faithfulness. He taught this older sister about relying on God. He is always faithful.

I am sad...some days are so much harder than others but through this journey, (that I'm still on...because it hasn't ended just because Doug went to heaven) I have tried to be transparent. I have written my innermost private feelings about what I've experienced over that last two years, for whoever reads this little space of mine on the web. It can be therapeutic and very vulnerable but maybe these words will resonate with someone on a similar journey.  

The desert gives way to the harvest. We have a hope!

Time goes on and stands still

I was talking to a friend this past week. Her husband has Esophageal Cancer too. We were sharing with each other and I was talking about Doug. I started counting the months.  May, June, July...October...WHAT??!! Six months have past and our lives haven't been the same.

Hands tell our story...

Hands tell our story...

Hands tell our story. Sometimes they are smooth and soft. Others times they are rough and dirty, marking the hard physical work. Doug's hands used to be dirty...all the time. He always did rough manual work with his hands. For many years he was an automotive technician. He worked hard fixing cars. Taking them apart and putting them back together. A side note: even as a kid he took every thing apart and put things together. He had to see how things worked. He was so smart at his craft but he didn't want to work in the car dealership world. In fact he hated it.

For many years he was up in the air about what he wanted to do. He drove tow-truck. Hard work with his hands, late hours, dangerous. He worked at Sears as a washer repairman. He hated that job but it was a steady job and he made a decent wage. 

The makeup of his hands changed once he stopped doing hard and rough work. They became softer and cleaner. The same happened to his heart. For many of those years he was doing what Doug wanted. Scratching and holding on. Wondering when he would catch a break. So many people prayed for him over these years. But one day his heart also became clean and soft.

He was living life finally the way God intended. Then the diagnosis. Cancer. Stage 4. A new journey. He loved Jesus and his prayer was that if one person came to know the love of the Savior, then this journey would have been worth it.

This picture of my hand touching Doug's is a precious memory for me. The night before I stayed all night with him taking care of whatever need he had. That night he was struggling to quench his thirst so he was having some anxiety. He said, "I need you to pray for peace and calm." I said that I would. He said, "I mean now!" So we prayed that we would experience the peace and calm of Jesus presence. I needed that prayer just as much because I was not at peace. I was so angry that God wanted to take him home when what I needed was for him to stay here with me. Our family needed him more.

This photo tells a story of a sister's love for her brother. How one human being cares for another when they can't take care of them self. It shows soft hands. Fragile hands. Strong hands. It resembles the peace and calm that is ours when we rest in the love of Jesus.

I don't care who reads this. I don't write these very personal memories for likes or comments. I've always kept personal emotions private. Letting others in as far as the wall I have put up. But my life has changed because of my brother's witness. I will never be the same. I think writing as little as it may be, is therapeutic. My heart hurts every day. I miss him every day. I think about him every day. But I want people to know there is a hope.

I still think you were taken away too soon. This past six months has gone by fast and at the same time, time has stood still. I know you are in heaven. You are healed and I know you wouldn't want to leave heaven for this broken world.

I love you Doug...more than words.


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