Life doesn’t always go the way we think it will. As a matter of fact it almost never goes the way we think. As I mentioned in my last article, my brother, Dave, was diagnosed with liver cancer and was only given months to live. That is a pretty general estimate but we knew we would have a little time. I was scheduled to go on vacation this week and with all that has been going on I really did feel a need to renew. However, I knew that I needed to help Dave get things in order and spending time with him is obviously more important. I headed up to my brother’s and got here yesterday afternoon (it’s a 7 hour drive). I was going to come today instead but my wife and I moved a couple of things around so I could get here a day earlier. Dave didn’t have a great night – the cancer has obviously been doing a job on his organs. He was feeling a little better this morning and we were talking and working on what we needed to be working on. And then it was time for him to go. He was getting a little sick and I was helping him (with the waste basket). He didn’t have much in him since he’s not been eating or drinking much. I wiped his nose and mouth and then he sneezed. And he sneezed again. He sneezed four times. There was a look on his face that he was recognizing that it was time to go. I told him that if he needed to go, it was okay. Then he simply laid back and his life left him.
We all thought we had more time with him, but we didn’t. I almost wasn’t there with him. I am so glad that I was. He was afraid that he would be a burden having others take care of him and he didn’t want to go to a care center even though that could have ended up being an inevitable option. He heart has been week for some time. Twelve years ago, he had a double bypass. About two months ago, one of those bypasses fell apart. Eventually they put in a pacemaker/defibrillator that stabilized his heart. It was when he didn’t get better that we found out about the cancer that had filled his body. Just yesterday afternoon, a technician arrived to turn off the defibrillator so that it wouldn’t attempt to restart his heart when his organs began to fail. I’m positive that when he was sneezing, his heart failed. As bad as that heart was, it picked the perfect time to send him home. It kept him going until I was there and then it shut down before Dave had to endure much pain or suffering. I hate that he is gone now but I am so glad that he went on his terms. I am happy that Dave and I were close and we have had the time to share so many things such as camping trips, motorcycle rides, and fishing trips. I’ll never forget talks we shared bunked in an ice fishing house on a frozen lake in the middle of a cold winter night.
Death is a part of life that most of us fear and seldom allow ourselves to think about. It’s gut wrenching, even when it’s not such a surprise and even when it’s the best option available. Even though I knew it was coming and I was as mentally prepared as I could be, it hurts. I realize that I have to let the emotions run through me so I don’t break. I have to be strong and reasonable and make decisions and take care of everything the way that Dave asked me to. And I will. It will still be painful. I will think about calling him and then remember that I can’t. I will see things that remind me of times we spent and I’ll feel some hollowness inside. I always feel we need to appreciate the time that we have with the people we love, to recognize that it is better that we had that relationship than to not have the pain of loss. My mantra is to make the most of life while we are here and this just reinforces how short our time is. It’s always too short. As painful as today is, I know I will cherish it. I cherish that I was with my beloved brother Dave when it was his time to move on. I cherish that I helped him let go of this world as I held his hand and told him that we would be alright and that it was okay for him to go. I cherish that I can love someone so much that I can hurt this much. I miss him so much because I love him so much. Yes, I’m crying right now as I type these words on his computer (that I helped him pick out). Too many people are afraid to love too much because they are afraid to hurt too much. It hurts more not to love that much. I hurt but the hurt I have today just deepens my love – my love for Dave but my love for others in my life too. Because of my love for him, I am not afraid to remember him. When I have a memory of Dave pass by because of something that I see, or hear, or smell, or touch or whatever, I will embrace it and I will smile. That’s what love can power me to do.
Thanks for letting me share my feelings with you. Sometimes we need to share what is inside so we can feel it even more vividly. Don’t be afraid of loving. I embrace the painful feelings of today because it’s a measure of the love I will feel forever.