Birthdays and Time

This is my last year in this decade. How did it come so fast? Three years ago...THREE, I spent the week with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother's health had deteriorated quite rapidly since I had seen him the Christmas before. My parents had been staying for weeks at a time but the week of my birthday it was me that was going to help him while Melissa went to work. 

We spent precious moments in that little apartment. Quite moments. I watched him constantly. Staring at his chest while he slept. I was afraid that I might not see his chest going up and down. I watched him struggle to do easy tasks. Things that you don't even think about. Do you think about moving your leg before you start walking? I don't. I just start walking. He couldn't do any of it. He would get frustrated and I tried to be the voice of patience. Which quite frankly is hilarious. I am the least patient person. 

Because he would get frustrated, we had a pact. We would be patient with each other. Beautiful moments spent together! Being there with him was the greatest gift. 

Time doesn't stand still. It is always in a constant forward motion.

There is a song from the musical Wicked that when I here it, tears usually well up in my eyes. It's called For Good. Because I knew Doug and was fortunate enough to love him and be loved by him, I have been changed for the better. The struggle was real and painful but anyone who knew him was changed for the better. He lived out his testimony and because he had a relationship with Jesus, he lives in Heaven today and for always!

It's weird to think I am almost in the next decade. I don't feel old. I guess it's just a number. I cherish my friendship and relationships of those people I get to do life with.

The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

The note Melissa left for me on the bathroom mirror on my birthday.

For Good
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

Happy Birthday Doug!

Today is Doug's birthday. I imagine we would have had a huge celebration for the milestone of 45 years. Instead, my parents and I will have dinner together and probably share stories of this individual that infiltrated our hearts and lives forever. My words will be inadequate for the love that I feel for Doug but I will do my best.

Forty-Five years ago God blessed this family with Doug. Douglas Edward Hale III. Three years younger than me. I always felt the need to take care of him and speak for him as he was learning. As you grow up you learn understand that you can't do everything for them but you have to learn things on your own. 

One time, as part of a bible study group, I was asked to write down three characteristics of my immediate family. I wrote these words December 9, 2013. The three words I chose for my brother were...Brave, Funny, Determined.

He was BRAVE. He took cancer head on and knew that he need to rely on God's strength. Some days were harder than others. Some days he had questions and felt like he wasn't getting answers. God had answers and they weren't the answers I wanted to hear but God's plan is greater. I know without a doubt that Doug boldly approached the throne of God on April 8, 2014.

He was FUNNY. He made me laugh. He had a smirky smile that you couldn't help but laugh and smile yourself. I remember having laughing fits at the dinner table that would totally get us into trouble. I'm sure he always started it because he always was an instigator. I still look at his pictures and I still smile even though sometimes it is through tears because I miss him so much.

He was DETERMINED. He had opinions and he was determined for you to hear them. He knew how to do so many things. He was smart and knowledgeable. He knew what he wanted and nothing held him back from getting it. He was determined to win souls to Christ and cancer pushed him even more to get that message across. He was determined to be faithful to God through ANY circumstance.

There is a song entitled And Can It Be, every time I hear these words I can't contain the emotion. I always wonder what it was like when Doug approached the throne clothed in righteousness and with boldness to claim his crown. 

No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head, And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
— Charles Wesley, 1738

I love you Doug! I miss you as much today as the day you left this earth. You will always be in my heart and your memory and testimony is etched deep in my brain. Thank you God for giving us this special gift in Doug! Our lives have been forever changed because we knew him.

Photo Credit: Family Photo taken by


Happy Birthday!

Forty-four years ago, my brother Doug was born. I remember as my brother was learning to speak that I would answer my mother's questions for my brother. You know, just helping him out. I always wanted to take care of him...make sure he was ok. Our lives were full of crazy times with this guy! 

He was funny and had a smile that would light up a room. A beautiful soul inside and out! 

He was determined, matter of fact and shared his opinion with you whether you wanted it or not. He was passionate. 

He was smart! He could work through a situation and make it happen. He still was proving that to us in the last week of his life. He needed a way to hang a flashlight, even though he didn't need it because we left a light on all the time but in his mind he did and was determined to hang it above his bed with his morphine so he could reach it any time. Bring out the 3M hook, paracord and slip knot so it was adjustable.  

He was brave! Let's be honest, I would not have handled being told I had stage 4 Esophageal cancer the way Doug did. I don't know how he did it. Through the coughing, the pain, the sickness, praying that if one person comes to know Christ it will have been worth it. 

Today, I miss you just as much as I did April 8th, when you left the people who love you on this earth to enter the arms of Jesus. January 19th will always be the day that we received the beautiful gift that was you! Today is your first birthday in heaven and it's probably the best party you ever received. 

I miss you baby brother and I love you so much!!



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