Friday, November 30, 2007

It seems like I only post on this blog lately when I am feeling down or poignant...

And it is another one of those times. We just returned home from a long, difficult, inspiring trip to TN. The long and short of it was that we arrived and knew that we were going straight to the bedside of my cousin who was declining rapidly from follicular lymphoma. He had been fighting valiantly for 9 months, and until recently had been doing well. Six weeks before he was walking 2 miles every day. But he had a round of invasive chemo, steroid treatment, and resulting nerve damage. Those combined with a surgery left him weak and his health took a turn for the worse. His family chose to bring him home with very good hospice care and very good family care (4 nurses, 1 PhD, and me...a former nurse’s aide and a loving cousin).

We spent precious hours by his bedside talking to him, visiting with people who had driven many hours to come and be with him. He was a fantastic person, with a wonderful smile. Everyone who spoke about and to him mentioned over and over how he was ALWAYS positive, cheerful and thankful. He would thank nurses, doctors, aides, family constantly for their care and help. I would sit beside him and VISUALIZE him getting better. Just a little better. Maybe to eat a little more, to breathe a little easier. I would SEE the angels bending low to soothe him. I would sing to him and tell him he was brave and wonderful and how much I admired him. I always have, since I saw him doing a handstand on our grandparents roof. I always have since he told my "mean" brothers to lay off. But in such a nice way that no one felt he was chastising them. He was the jock, the blond, the good looking guy who smiled and girls thought he was amazing. He had a photographic memory, and was a really great carpenter/ builder. He loved his family, and rebuilt and fixed a lot of their house before he got sick. He was a fierce defender of anyone who needed it, and particularly of his handicapped brother. He was one of the good guys. And I don't think we told him that enough. But I do know that he knew he was loved.

He passed from this earth surrounded by incredible love and hope. We asked for a miracle up until the end, that he might be healed. But, we asked that God's will be done in all of our lives, and that he would be present. And he was. God was in that room that night, I have no doubt. I saw him in my 92 year old Grandfather's hand as he touched his grandson's shoulder and told him that he would see him very soon in the morning. I saw him in my 4 year old daughter’s eyes as she looked at the solid wall of family around Bob's bed and wanted to know what was taking Jesus so long to come. I saw him in Bob's fiancée’s hands that soothed his breathing and whispered love. I saw him in his parents fierce grip...they COULD not let go. How can we let go of something we love and protect so hard? I FELT God in that room...we stood shoulder to shoulder around his bed, and he was in peace. He took his last breath in total love, and in faith. I was privileged to be there at that moment, and I am privileged to be a part of his family.

Bob, goodnight for now. We will see you soon. You are loved.