Friday, June 24, 2016
Brother Bill::June 24
On the left: Bill, just a few days before he passed. On the right: Me sitting in the same place I'd sat for the past two days - what a blessing it was to sit next to him and comfort him in his last, few hours.
My brother, Bill, died last Tuesday, on Flag Day.
He died much more suddenly than any of us thought he would.
On the day before he died, I went to see him. He had been mostly unresponsive since Sunday, occasionally trying to speak or give meaningful looks.
On Monday, as I sat by his bedside, I talked to him at times, or I read my book and patted his chest at other times. I was there for about an hour in the early morning. The nurses had warned us that at some point in the next few days, he'd slip into a coma before he passed away.
That Monday morning gave me closure. He tried to smile at me, but it was very fleeting, much like a babies. He was unable to move much of his body, only using his arms to scootch a little in bed if he got too uncomfortable. His eyes were the most expression of how he felt and what he thought.
As I went to leave for work, I gave him a hug and decided to turn my cheek to his lips as I kissed him on the cheek as well - I didn't know if he could or even wanted to kiss my cheek, but I offered it. He kissed me. My heart melted and I felt peace. That was exactly what I needed.
Often, in the last few days since he passed, I recall the fleeting smiles and the kiss on the cheek and my heart is filled with gratitude for the small mercies of life.
Steve, our kids, and I sang, "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again" a capella at his funeral on Saturday. My kids were worried that we wouldn't sound very good. I reminded them that every Christmas Eve for the past decade, Uncle Bill joined us in singing Christmas Hymns and Carols - he knew exactly how we'd sound, and he was the only person we were singing for.
This hymn is one of my all time favorites, and I usually only choke out a few words here and there as it is being sung because it stirs up feelings and soothes my heart and soul all at the same time.
Thank God for tender little mercies amidst the difficult times. And may God bless and welcome Bill into His kingdom, where he can find peace and rest with all of our loved ones.