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. main.acsevents.org/goto/DougHale

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

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.

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

Water of Life

It's amazing how everything has changed so drastically in just a few weeks. I sit here and watch. I am disturbed. Sickened. Heart broken. This disease is debilitating, life changing and life taking.

I heard him say today that the glass of water sitting by his bed looked so good. He wondered why he couldn't drink and swallow anymore. Think about it...swallow. How easy was that?

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. I'm trying to keep it together. I don't want to add any concern to his heart. But wow...this is stretching me. I love this boy so much! I know he belongs to Jesus. I don't want him to suffer with this excruciating pain but I'm also not ready for God's plan to come to fruition. We pray for peace.

John's reminder that Jesus is our thirst quencher.

photo credit: laura dake

photo credit: laura dake

Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst-not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life. -John 4:14

...even there

Tonight it's my honor to take care of my little brother. He wants someone to stay with him all the time. He is comforted to know when he cries out in the night someone will be there to take care of his needs.

He sleeps. So much pain. So fragile. So skinny. Every movement, an extreme amount of effort. I don't want to fall asleep because I want to watch him sleep. Hear him breathe. 

This week I have been learning not to take life for granted. We aren't guaranteed tomorrow. Life is precious. A gift.

We have no other choice but to trust God and have faith. He knows and we believe because He is God. But that doesn't make it hurt any less.

My heart.

Shattered in pieces.

I heard Ellen Degeneres tell someone, "When your heart is broken, when your heart has cracks in it, it lets the light in, it lets the sun in." I want to be strong. I want the light of His glory to shine through the cracks and brokenness. I want to be at peace that God has plans for Doug that are different than my plans.

God, I pray for peace. I pray for a heart that will be soft and pliable. That your love for me will heal the cracks and brokenness. Your hand will guide me. Your spirit will fill me.


artist: lynn smith     photo credit: laura dake

artist: lynn smith     photo credit: laura dake

If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. (Psalms 139:10 NLT) 

Great Are You, Lord

This song from All Sons & Daughters has been playing over and over in my head today.

You give life. You are love. You give hope. You restore. Great are you, Lord.

Pain. Sadness. Sickness. Uncertainty. I am struggling. I need to give it up. Let God take it. All of it.

The words of this song remind me that He is the one that gives life. He is love. He restores. God, help me see you as the loving God you are. My heart is breaking and you will mend it. You will fill those places that are open and raw. Perfect my faith.

photo credit: lauradake

photo credit: lauradake

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

Great Are You, Lord | All Sons & Daughters