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.


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!


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. 




A New Day Is Dawning

Fear can paralyze. Knock you to your knees. Sucker punch you square in the face. Take your breath away.

That's what happened yesterday evening. After a series of events my brother found himself frustrated, an elevated heart rate (170 beats per minute), unable to breathe, and I imagined scared to death. The ambulance came and transported him to Fair Oakes Hospital. They were able to stabilize his breathing (130 beats per minute) although still above normal but stabilized. Chest x-ray, ct scan and other tests were done. Fluids were pumped into him. Since Friday, swallowing has been difficult so he hasn't had much to drink and hasn't been able to take medication. His white blood cell count is high. Not surprising because he hasn't had treatment since January.

I asked my mom why hospice wouldn't give him fluids or a feeding tube but that isn't the job of hospice. They just make you comfortable and try to manage the pain. There is a part of me that thinks this quick decline could've been prevented. That there has to be a different level of treatment between chemo and hospice.

Maybe I'm grasping at straws or trying to blame somebody because I want my brother to live. Maybe God's plan is coming to fruition just the way He planned. I'm having a difficult time trying to understand why God, the loving God, the Healer, the worker of miracles, the God of second chances isn't saving Doug. 

I believe, God, I do. Doug has been brought to you time and time again. You gave him second chances. You give all of us second chances.  He came back to you, chased after you and loves you. Then out of no where...BAM...sucker punch.

I've claimed hope. I've been inked as a reminder but as a friend reminded me today, the greatest of these is LOVE.

Deep in my heart I know Doug will be made perfect when he gets to meet Jesus face to face. He won't be in pain and he will have his beautiful infectious smile on his face. But for those of us who love him here on earth are left with a deep void. God, help me see you in all of it. Help my heart so that it doesn't become hardened. Keep it tender.

So, today we wake up. Today is a gift. I can only live for today.  

The transMission song, All Things New, is playing in my head. It's amazing how much the music and lyric can speak truth and cause your heart to be stirred. Thank you to my friends that have the ability to hear God's voice and produce melodies.

photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

All Things New
Words & Music by Phil Laeger
Arranged by Marty Mikles

In early twilight when the day is breaking, edging out the night

My song will rise to You, my life will sing Your praise and breathe Your light

Your perfect love is like this radiance that warms the day anew

And I will join with all creation, singing, "Glory, God to You"

Your mercy and compassion

They are new every morning; a new day is dawning

Your faithfulness and Your tenderness

They are drawing me to You

And You are making all things

Your mercy and compassion

From time eternal Lord Your spoken Word brings everything to life

Your Spirit hovers over chaos, separating dark from light

While we were dead in sin, Your Shepherd voice was calling us apart

You shine the knowledge of the glory of Your Son into our hearts

Shine Your Son into our hearts