Posts Tagged ‘brother’


YOUR Top 10 of MIP 2014: 2 & 1!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Good morning, MIP readers! I hope you are having a fantastic Friday!

Today I reveal the two posts you found the most interesting in 2014. Both were generated for the same reason–my brother was diagnosed with one horrific case of esophageal cancer. They “book-ended” the time I spent last year traversing back and forth to his home and the hospital near his home. So, # 2 was my announcement, yet again, that I needed to put writing a blog on hold to take care of him. This post was difficult to write for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which was that I felt compelled to protect my brother’s privacy at this point in my life. Later on my eldest brother told me that the “affected brother” was sad that I had stopped writing on his account. But, I knew something that my brother didn’t–that MIP readers are very “faithful fans” and would come back to my blog when I had the time to write again. One more time, here is “Another Kind of WOW.

Unfortunately, the reason why I was able to return to writing was because my brother made the courageous decision to end treatment and just let nature take its course. He passed away 8 days later, after telling me he was “trying to do this quickly.” I knew exactly why he said that. He never wanted anyone to suffer on his account. And thus, because he hated me giving up the blog, I wrote, for him, “Why I Stopped Writing.” 

Kleenex, anyone??? Thanks for coming back here to read both the fun and not so fun events of my life. I am grateful for each one of you.

Monday’s Post: A Normal Kind of WOW

You Might Also Like: YOUR Top 10 of MIP 2014: 4 & 3; YOUR Top 10 of MIP 2014: 6 & 5; and YOUR Top 10 of MIP 2014: 8 & 7


The New Anniversaries…


Warning: Get a beverage first.

Most anniversaries are happy events. I felt this way for many, many years. But as I age, I am learning, all too painfully, that there will be more and more anniversaries that will be sad and yes, painful. As I write this, a year, to the day, has passed since the onset of heart attack # 3 for me. This day marked the beginning of what turned into a painful year. Here’s why:

June 10th – My valiant attempts to ward off another heart attack are in vain and I find myself, in the middle of the night, on an emergency helicopter flight to a Fort Worth hospital.

June 17th – After being home only a few days from my Fort Worth hospital stay, heart attack # 4 rears its ugly head and I, once again, can’t stave it off with aspirin and nitroglycerin. Another helicopter flight and another stay in the hospital. This heart attack was different in a multitude of ways and the first one where I really thought I wouldn’t survive.

June 27th – My youngest son’s last birthday as a teenager. While a joyous time, it was difficult because even a brief time outside in the Texas heat worked on my heart in a negative way.

July 2nd – My brother’s birthday and the anniversary of my mother’s death. Since the latter occurred on my brother’s birthday, we, as a family, have always sought to make it less somber by going to watch the Rangers play baseball. I still wasn’t sure if I could handle the heat, but with the help of my family, I made it. It’s my brother’s last birthday celebration.

August 2013 – The youngest leaves for college; the middle child starts her last year of grad school; the oldest is promoted and moves to a new home; the latter’s dog comes to visit for an extended period of time and I find out, quite surprisingly, that I will be giving myself stomach shots twice a day every day and that I have a blood clot in my heart, putting me at risk for a stroke. I have to eat a very strange diet during this time.

September 2013 – Partially to keep myself from going insane and partially because I believe in keeping my promises to God, I arranged for 10 of my friends and I to attend Women of Faith. It was a tearful event, basically because I couldn’t believe I was still alive.

October 2013 – Two of my friends are diagnosed with breast cancer and unfortunately, neither one of them were diagnosed as Stage 1. But the best news is that they seem to be doing fine and hanging in there just as I knew they would.

November 2013 – My last Thanksgiving with my brothers together in my home. We knew my brother was having to really slow down while eating, but he had been checked out earlier and the fall and the doctor had pronounced him healthy.

December 2013 – My brother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Christmas was poignant to say the least and my research told me he was fighting an uphill battle at best. He arrived at my house with his head shaved and hat on, feeling it would be easier to take baldness if he had some control over it in the beginning. Again, without knowing it, it was my last Christmas with him.

January 2014 – My brother is in and out of the hospital repeatedly with complications, despite trying to be meticulous in following his doctors’ instructions.

February 2014 – My brother makes the decision to “pull the plug.” He moves to hospice care.

February 27th – My other brother and I tell my brother it’s okay for him to go. His breathing grows farther and farther apart. It’s my last time to see him.

February 28th – My brother dies.

March 8th – My brother’s memorial service. It’s a time of laughter and fond remembrance, but it is still difficult for all those who attended.

March 9th – May 5th – My other brother and I clean out my brother’s home and say goodbye to “the House of Tears” as my other brother calls it.

May 9th, 10th and 11th – My daughter graduates with her master’s degree and those festivities are quickly followed by Mother’s Day. While I am so, so grateful to see her graduate with all of her friends, the brother who always celebrated those graduations with us and often celebrated Mother’s Day with us, is painfully absent.

While I’m grateful to still be walking and talking, I am squelching tears as I write this. I know, all too well, from having grieved other family and friends who have already gone on to Heaven, that this coming year will be difficult for me simply because I have a few more “anniversaries” to get through. And I also know that more and more things of this nature will probably continue to take place. At my age the passing of friends and family is simply inevitable. It will happen with more and more frequency and more and more depth of pain.

With this reality ever present now, I do my best to remind myself that I am one blessed woman. Grief and tears are actually a blessing. They are an indication that we love a lot and have been loved. It’s an acknowledgement that my joy will never be complete until it’s my turn to journey to Heaven. And I am blessed to be an American, live in a nice home, in a nice town, with plenty of comfort. I’m blessed to still be surrounded by a wonderful husband, wonderful children and a wonderful extended family and great friends.

Even so, if I don’t smile as much this year, if I don’t crack jokes as much on MIP this year, if I seem a little preoccupied this year, you’ll have to forgive me–I don’t do grief well.

I know I have much to learn in this phase of my life and probably the most significant thing to learn is to still smile, to still celebrate, and to still cherish those whose presence I’m still privileged to enjoy. Thank you all for giving me a reason to smile, to celebrate and to cherish.

Friday’s Post: God’s Sick Reading List…

You Might Also Like: So, Where Are My Posts?; Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 & 4; and Lessons Learned from Being a Pansy and No, I Don’t Mean the Flower




Eulogy for a Brother…

Guitar Macro 1

Warning: War and Peace was shorter. 

Tomorrow it will have been 2 months since I delivered the eulogy for my brother’s memorial service. Several of my dear readers asked me to share it here. Below is the original version—and there is even an additional story in here that I did not tell at the service. The original version contained my brother’s name, but he and my other brother are rather private people, so I hope you understand me not referencing their real names. Without further adieu…here it is:

On behalf of my brother’s family, thank you for making the effort to be with us as we celebrate his life. My brother designated my eldest brother as the person in charge of his affairs in the event of his death and in that brother’s first official duty in that capacity; he delegated the eulogy to me. I’m learning quickly how one vote really can make a difference… the hard way.

My brothers and I were raised in the church. We were the first kids there on Sunday morning and the last ones to leave.  Why? Because our dad was the minister and he opened and closed the church and we didn’t particularly enjoy walking to church. Yes, we were the infamous preacher’s kids. And we lived up to the infamous reputation of preacher’s kids as often as we could. We considered it our job. Dad and Mom were desperately trying to make us dutiful Christians and we were just intent on finding out how loud one has to be to invoke our mom’s ire enough to require being taken to the parking lot for some serious discipline. Let’s just say that we all eventually became very scared of church parking lots. Bad, bad things happened there.

Probably to my mother’s relief, my brothers decided to avoid churches and their scary parking lots once they grew up. It was the 1960s and that seemed to happen a lot with those who came of age in that era. I, on the other hand, grew up in the decadent 70s. And perhaps because I grew up in a different era or perhaps because I was the only daughter or perhaps because Mom and Dad realized parking lot punishment wasn’t working, I was guided by my parents much more gently about the Christian faith. Even though my church attendance waxed and waned during the teen and college years, I eventually re-embraced the notion of living the rest of my life as a Christian.

As the youngest sibling of two very intelligent, humorous big brothers, I learned one lesson early on—do not argue with people who quite clearly think they are always right. It’s scarier than going to the church parking lot. So, since my opinions about all things Christian tended to be quite different from my brothers’ opinions, I quickly learned to hold my tongue on the subject whenever they were in the room.

Unfortunately, doing just that created a huge dilemma in my soul when my brother was diagnosed with cancer.  And the dilemma wasn’t based on Godly ideas going on in my head. As it became very, very possible that my brother might not overcome the horror that is esophageal cancer, I selfishly hoped and prayed that his relationship with God was of the stuff that Christians believe, so that I could, one day, be reunited with him and that my parents would also get to see him again. It wasn’t about my brother being reunited fully with the God who created Him—it was all about being separated from my brother forever. And even though I thought it might be my job to talk to him about such issues, the part of me that hates conflict with my brothers couldn’t quite spit out the words to him, even when there were opportune moments for such a discussion.

In the mornings I like to read my Bible because it’s my night owl way of procrastinating on my daily to do list. On one particular morning not too long ago, I was sobbing over the dilemma going on in my head about this very issue. In desperation I turned to my Bible. My minister father would probably disapprove, but I usually read 5 Bible passages each day and allow God to choose those passages for me by allowing my Bible to fall open wherever it may. On this day of completely falling apart, these verses were what I encountered:  “I have known you since you were in the womb.”’ As I read that line, God almost audibly whispered quietly, “and I’m talking about your brother!” The next scripture was Isaiah 55:8: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.” As I read this statement, I found myself remembering that God had parted the Red Sea, protected Noah from the first monsoon, and had sent His Son to heal the sick and lame. Thus, even if I wasn’t sure if my brother knew that that grace concept about Jesus’ death was meant for him if my brother just claimed it, God knew my brother’s heart and had already worked on that with no assistance from little old me.  The last scripture was: “If you have done this for the least of these, you have done it for me.” That’s when I began to sob. Why?

Because there have been so many times in my brother’s life when he most certainly did kind things for the “least of these.” I hope you will allow me to share but a few ways that I know this is true:

1. When I was little, we had a white fence in the front of our yard. Since New York winters can be hard on painted fences, it was my brothers’ duty to paint that fence every blessed summer. I don’t think this was exactly their favorite chore to do, because our dad was absolutely anal about how one should paint anything on, or in, a house. At age 5, I was struggling, like most 5 year olds, to learn how to tie my shoes. Mom had shown me how to do it several times, but I still couldn’t master it. Since it was my younger brother’s turn to paint the stupid fence, I decided to go see my super cool teenage brother and see if he could play with me. Of course, my shoestrings were dangling all over the place, creating quite a danger for me. My brother stopped painting, saw my predicament and proceeded to very patiently teach me how to tie my shoes. Once he showed me, I never struggled with that again. He even showed me how to double knot them just to prevent them from becoming untied ever again. To this day, I still double-knot my sneakers. Looking back now, I’m sure it was my brother’s way of procrastinating from painting the fence again, but at least he chose to procrastinate in a way that helped his little sister forever.

2.  When I was 10 we had moved to West Virginia. By this time my brother was a college student…in the 60s. Think about it…Yes, my brother was, indeed, a hippie during those years and protested the Viet Nam War. This provoked a lot of angry dinnertime conversations with Mom and Dad whenever he was home, since Dad was a veteran of two wars. My brother was even questioning whether or not he believed in God and the moral code of the Bible in our minister father’s home. His long hair and beard didn’t exactly thrill Mom and Dad, either. But, at Christmastime, that same brother brought Mom and Dad 3 large wood block prints depicting various aspects of the New Testament that had been created by one of his college professors. Their sheer size and intricacy surely cost a poverty-stricken college student a lot of money and were probably difficult to get on a plane, but again, my brother’s heart showed that he knew what was important to his parents, despite his doubts about the same subject.

3.  My brother elected to go to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. Eckerd’s dorms were almost literally on the Gulf of Mexico’s beach. While there, an oil spill occurred in the St. Petersburg area. Seagulls fell victim to this spill and were literally covered in black oil so entirely that they could no longer fly and find food on their own. In other words they were doomed to die without some sort of intervention. My brother and his fellow students carefully and methodically worked to wash the oil off of these scared, wild birds with little equipment and guidance from outside organizations. This act of kindness was even covered by the national press and soon, these seagulls began to fly again over the beaches and campus of Eckerd College.

4.  Late in his last semester at Eckerd College, the beard disappeared, but the mustache and long hair still remained. One day St. Petersburg was having a parade and my brother went out with hordes of students and fellow citizens to watch it. My brother heard a child’s voice behind him and turned around. A little boy couldn’t see over the crowd to watch the parade. Without a word, my brother winked at the boy’s mother and lifted the little boy to his shoulders so that he could see the parade from the best vantage point possible. Professional photographer Robert Barnes snapped a picture of this. Why? Because it was the South. Because it was 1972. And because there was one small difference between my brother and this boy other than their obvious height difference. You see…that little boy was African American and my brother was most definitely white with his light brown hair, blonde mustache and blue eyes.

5.  When I finally made it to college and my brother had now abandoned the long hair and moved to Texas, he learned that my university (Purdue), was playing in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston over the Christmas holidays. He called me in an era before cell phones and instructed me to get the best bowl game tickets I could get on Purdue’s side. I was stunned. My parents would never have shelled out the kind of money needed for Bowl tickets, even if I could use my student status to lessen the “sting” to the wallet. I said, “But, I don’t have the money to fly down to Houston.” My brother replied, “That’s okay. It’s my Christmas present to you. I’ll fly you to Dallas and we’ll drive down to Houston for the game.” Again, I was stunned, but dutifully secured some pretty good seats for the game. As promised, I received an airline ticket to Dallas at Christmastime and met my brother at the airport. It was Cotton Bowl weekend so the traffic in and out of the metroplex was terrible. My brother never complained about that or the lousy Houston traffic at the other end of our car trip. We stayed at the Shamrock Hilton and it was absolutely regal in those days and I felt like a princess staying there. My brother even suggested that we find out where the Purdue team was staying and plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve (the evening of the game) by celebrating a sure win by my Boilermakers at that very hotel. We managed to find out and when those Boilers did, indeed, win the game, he and I found our way to a disco party celebration at the Purdue hotel. I had pretty good Saturday Night Fever moves and proceeded to teach my brother the pretzel, a rather complicated disco dance, but all the rage in 1979. It took my brother a while, but he feigned enjoyment as I ineptly taught him the pretzel and he endured non-stop very loud disco music. Eventually, he was as proficient as I and my peers all wondered how I managed to secure such a grown-up, handsome date. It is, to this day, one of my fondest memories with my brother, because I had gotten to be the teacher this time and had gotten my brother all to myself for an entire weekend.

6.  In the early 1990s I learned that Willie Nelson was coming to our tiny town’s country-western honky-tonk. Since I knew my brothers were rather avid Willie fans and that my brother had mastered the two-step, I invited them to come to the concert. They did and my brother got me onto the dance floor to teach me a dance this time. He was incredibly patient yet one more time and spent several hours trying to teach me the two-step. But, I’m afraid my brain interprets a step as a beat to the music, so since you only take three steps in four beats in the two-step, I was hopelessly stepping all over my brother’s toes. I’m sure, that when he pulled off his sox that night, his feet were probably entirely black and blue, but if they were, he never complained about it the next day or any time since then.

Many of you have told me of the generous and kind things my brother has done for you and with you. And while such stories bless my heart, I am not surprised, as you can now see. And it was difficult for me to shorten what I shared with you today to the memories I have just recounted. I could go on and on and on about how my brother has certainly done it “to the least of these” too many times to count. In fact when I look at my brother’s example, I am reminded of a man who died on a cross 2000 years ago. Many of the actions are very similar, showing me that my brother “gets” Jesus and that Jesus “gets” my brother.

On the day when I encountered these scriptures, I also encountered one more: “After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules? But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you, I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules.”

You may find it rather odd that with all of the other beautiful passages of scripture I’ve quoted today, that God would send me to this one. But I think I know why.

Jesus spent a lot of time with the “outcasts” of his time: IRS agents, hookers, those with deadly, contagious illnesses, and blue-collar workers. And He was incredibly patient with these people. But, when it came to the Pharisees, a group that should be in Jesus’ corner, He always seems irritated with them. I did some online research about the Pharisees and here’s what I learned:

  1. A growing sense of superiority to the “heathen” and “idolatrous” nations among whom the Pharisees’ lot was cast came to be one of their main characteristics. The Pharisees were taught insistently to separate themselves from their neighbors. Intermarriage with the “heathen” was strictly forbidden.
  2. A Pharisee is a member of a Jewish sect noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and for insistence on the validity of their own oral traditions concerning the law.
  3. Pharisaic zeal for the Law is obvious, but what is meant by Law? The sanctity of the written Law was never questioned, but Jewish groups differed on how it was to be interpreted and applied. The Pharisees developed their own body of interpretations, expansions, and applications of the Law that they came to regard as of divine origin.

Hmmm…if Jesus were to hang out in my Texas town today, I have a feeling he’d be drinking a beer at the local honky-tonk with some cowboys, some oilfield roughnecks, and a few other groups of people that churchgoers like me sometimes have a tough time understanding or appreciating. In fact I think he might be rather bored out of His gourd at the Sunday night women’s Bible study I regularly attend. And when Jesus is asked, point-blank, by the Pharisees: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Notice that Jesus says absolutely nothing about confessing your sin, claiming Him as the Savior of your life, or anything remotely related to Him. He points us to God and to our neighbors. Sometimes we don’t have the nicest neighbors and Jesus points out that our neighbors may even be people we haven’t met yet in a country we don’t like very much.

The more I thought about it, the more I become convinced my panic over my brother getting into Heaven was just the Pharisee inside me and I was ignoring all the abundant, tangible evidence that my brother believed in God and loved his neighbor, no matter where he encountered that neighbor. In fact I was being downright judgmental about things I have no way to discern, because only God and Jesus can truly see my brother’s heart.

And so, one day when it’s my turn to meet Jesus and Jesus asks me why He should deign to let a Pharisee into His Heaven, I hope a former hippie taps him on the shoulder and says, “I know. She’s a Pharisee and she doesn’t get You, but make just one exception for me. I promise to teach her whatever she doesn’t understand.”

Should my brother convince Jesus to let me into Fantasyland, I hope my brother will want to dance with his baby sister one more time. I suspect that those residing in Fantasyland don’t have any need for shoes, but since I’m a Pharisee, I probably have that all wrong, too. So, when my brother gives me that dance lesson, I hope he’s wearing steel-toed boots. And I also hope he remembered to double-knot his shoelaces.

Friday’s Post: The Anniversary…

You might also like: Why I Stopped Writing; We’re Still Losing This War; Another Kind of WOW; A Real Scare; and 8 Women Who Changed My Life


Why I Stopped Writing…

crying woman

Warning! Grab 2 of your favorite beverages first. And maybe a box of tissues.

Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! It’s time to get back to what fuels “my fire” and to once again, do “self-therapy” through writing. Honestly, that pretty much sums up the majority of what I write—my way of trying to fight through the “darkness” that life can sometimes bring and still come out on the other side to find joy and blessing.

So, what kept me from writing for so long? On December 11th of last year, just as I was getting over not having to give myself stomach shots anymore and not having to let the vampires suck me dry for blood tests, my older brother sent me a text message. We are not what I would call “frequent texters” even though we live a mere two hours from each other. So, imagine my shock when my normally very healthy brother sent me this: “Apparently, it’s my turn now. Being admitted to hospital. Will need a transfusion and they’re trying to figure out why. Probably related to stomach problems. Tell you more as I learn more. Looks like a one day stay at this point.”

At Thanksgiving, my brother had complained that, for the last few months, he was having to eat more slowly and avoid “thicker” foods. He wasn’t complaining because he was losing weight—something he had been struggling to do for several years. We just thought it was an “aging problem.” My brother lives alone and has no family of his own, so since I am his closest relative, I knew my assistance might be needed if he didn’t get out of the hospital after 1 day.

The next day I got an even more shocking text: “They found cancer; cut some out and sent for biopsy; chest & stomach CT scan this PM; oncologist on board & will see me tomorrow with a game plan.” Noooooooooooooooo. This can’t be happening—my brother was just pronounced absolutely healthy by his doctor in late summer.

My life changed instantly. It went from amateur-aspiring-writer-mom-volunteer to caretaker. It also changed for our oldest brother, who had recently retired in Louisiana, and also had no family of his own. We knew we were my brother’s only “back-up” crew. We flew into action as our family typically does. My children helped when they could, despite really busy schedules. The world seemed to pray for him.

The next few months were cram-filled with a myriad of doctor’s consultations (so many that I lost track of all the doctors he saw), tests, nurses (such a new fixture in his life that I became good friends with a fair number of them), technicians, drugs (so potent that special kits and gowns are packaged with them to prevent them from getting anywhere other than where they needed to go), and…sheer and utter panic.

My researcher nature and past history with other cancer-afflicted friends has taught me where to go to find reliable information on the various kinds of cancer. My brother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, one of the few cancers that still has a high “death rate.” Even if my brother fought valiantly and managed to survive the treatment (no small feat—trust me!), he probably was not going to live to see 70 (He was already 63.). The panic physically surfaced with this realization and I had to up my dosages on several of my heart medications, as a result.

After a series of complications (and I have the most detail-oriented, instruction-following brother on the planet) beyond my brother’s control and ridiculous amounts of pain and discomfort, the brother who fought with everything within him finally said, “I’m done” in late February. I found this out through my other brother in a tearful phone call. Again, I was shocked. This can’t be over this fast. My eldest brother asked me to come back to the hospital the next day and help him with making arrangements for hospice care. I did so and became extremely angry with the doctors caring for him. It was so obvious to me that my brother couldn’t fight this anymore and was extremely fatigued and yet, doctor after doctor insisted on trying to talk him out of his decision. While I didn’t want to lose my brother, I also didn’t want to see him suffer any more than was absolutely necessary. They were prolonging his misery! Despite his fatigue and pain, he asked intelligent questions to rule out any possible avenue that could lead to a faster, fairly positive result. But, each time he posed a different scenario than what the doctors had already proposed in December, he was told that wasn’t possible. So, he kept insisting that his decision to quit treatment was final. At one point he said, “It’s time for me and my family to move on.” While he waged a verbal war with them, my eldest brother and I visited two hospice facilities on nearly opposite sides of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in a matter of a few hours, despite rush hour traffic and a wide array of DFW highway construction zones.

The first place did not impress us at all—it was dirty, had an annoying alarm on the entrance door every time it opened and was housed in an assisted living facility. The second was housed in an older section of a very clean hospital. The staff there were friendly, patient and quiet as they showed us around. There was a gentleman quietly playing acoustic guitar in the hallway. Since our brother used to dispel his stress levels with playing acoustic guitar and was quite entertaining to hear when he brought said guitar to family events and get-togethers, we knew this was God telling us where he was supposed to spend his final days on earth.

Within a matter of 24 hours, he was there. Hallelujah! The hospice staff quickly addressed all of his discomfort and he finally was able to rest many hours of the day without incessant interruptions from doctors, nurses, vampires, technicians, custodial staff and nutrition personnel. Being the executor for our parents and one of our aunts, my weak brother, the eternal accountant, began dictating how to get into his computer and personal files so that my eldest brother could pay his household bills and take care of settling the estate, giving numerous pointers along the way, to save us time, money and headaches as we did so. As part of his “dictation,” he had decided to sell his car to my husband and me to use as a car for our youngest son. I hesitated to bring him the title to sign over, thinking it was barbaric on my part and so, I reiterated that if he didn’t want to do it, it was okay.

He quietly reached for the title, reached for the pen in my hand, and shakily signed the title without any hesitation. When I wondered if he was really coherent enough (from all of the painkillers) to make such a decision, he quickly asked, “Did you find the folder in my office with all of the information about the car?” I nodded and then he drifted off to sleep again. Then I shook my head—only my brother would think to ask about whether or not I had found the folder with every auto-related transaction neatly and orderly filed, along with instruction manuals and warranties for said car. His question was my confirmation that he knew exactly what he was doing.

As friend after friend called to check on him (He asked for no visitors.), I was greeted by loud, never-ending sobs at the other end of the phone. But, I wasn’t surprised. What my brother had done for my youngest son was just one of many examples of what he did for others on a regular basis in his life.

A few days later, his tongue swollen, he barely whispered, “I’m trying to do this fast.” My brother and I reassured him he was “doing it” just fine. He nodded his head. A few days after that, his gaze no longer showed that he recognized my brother and me. But yet, he kept looking at us with his enormous blue eyes. One night as he stared at me with those eyes, I managed to eke out, “If you want to go, it’s okay. We will be okay. Just go towards the light, or the angels you see, or Mom and Dad, and go. We’ll be all right.” I nearly choked on the words, but knew, based on watching my dad die, that those might be the words he needed to end his suffering. What happened next scared the tar out of my brother and me. He didn’t take a breath for another 10 seconds. How do I know? I counted. It scared me that much. He kept doing that and my brother reiterated what I had said. But, even though we lingered by his bedside for quite a while, he kept breathing just enough to keep himself alive. We finally told him good night and left.

The next day the phone rang at my brother’s house around noon. My oldest brother answered it and I could tell it wasn’t good news. He hung up the phone and said, “He’s gone.”

The time from that moment until now, has been one long, continuous blur of cleaning out his house, sending back medical equipment that went unused, writing a eulogy of his life, meeting with family and friends, crying and settling his affairs. It often feels as if I am existing in a very surreal fog. The fog will, hopefully, clear after this coming Monday when my brother closes on our brother’s home. But, having walked down this path too many times in recent years, I know it probably won’t. It may cease and desist for a few moments or even days or even weeks, but it will still be there. For a long time.

And that’s what made it difficult to write for the past few months. And why, even though I have missed you, dear readers, I still find it difficult. So, I hope you will allow me to “wallow” in the fog for a little while–once again, doing my “self-therapy” through this blog. You are most likely going to hear about the facts regarding esophageal cancer and other cancers that have an awful prognosis for its victims and why.

You are going to hear about the funny moments (Because my family handles stress best by poking fun at it!) and yes, there were plenty of those. And if requested (and only if requested through your comments below), my eulogy, in its entirety. I’ve done three now, so I’m starting to become an expert on writing and delivering them (Some family members have already booked me for theirs….I guess that means I’m good at it???). Can you put “professional eulogist” on a resume??? Hmmm…

But, have no fear, my normal brand of insanity and silliness will be back before long. Because…there is still joy and blessing in my life. I love you, big brother! See you on “the flip side.”

Friday’s Post: We’re still losing this war…

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