My Faith in a Stranger

I just saw this photo that Wendy posted to my timeline on Facebook. It was so beautiful, and since this is the main topic with Al most days I thought I would print it off for him.

jesus at the gate 2Every night before lights off Al asks for two things. He doesn’t need to tell me what he wants, I know from many nights. Prayer time and the movie, The Christmas Story.

Although he can no longer speak, I know his request by heart. Ask Jesus to come and take him home.

When I saw this, my heart sunk and my eyes became wet.

How can someone I have never seen affect me to the point of tears? For Al and me, we were brought up in the church. The First Brethren Church in fact. We went every Sunday with our parents.

As we got older Al and I went on Sunday evenings. I became involved with the choir. Al and I partook in different plays. Eventually I took over the Junior Choir as director. Al continued his routine of going every Sunday from way back when.

Sunday evenings he went to church and then came home and read his Bible. I know for a fact that Al has read his Bible completely through at least four times. I got married to a military man and lived in Germany for a year.

The military had church every  Sunday also, but each week  was for a different religion. I remember there were Sundays for Jews, Catholics etc. I got out of the habit of going.

It was almost too easy to drift away. I was married, and living in a new country. I let God be placed on the back burner and lived my life. When things went wrong or I became scared, I would quickly bring Jesus up front and pray like crazy.

Jesus never left me. No matter how much I tried to ignore what I had been taught he always filtered to the front burner. I was the one who left him. When our dad became ill, I found my way back to my upbringing.

I told Jesus I wanted him to be my priority again. I prayed for months and then I learned how to talk to him like he was my best friend. Everything that went right, I thanked him and everything that went bad, I blamed him.

As dad became closer to heaven’s doors, I inched my way into trusting God more than ever. I have never looked back. I rely on him for all that I am and do.

Now that Al is so ill I have fallen. Not fallen away from God, but more like questioned him. I have screamed at him, cried to him, told him how much I love him and have told him I am sorry for my behavior many times over.

Today, as I watch my brother slip closer into Jesus arms I am not scared to see Jesus. I am scared for myself. A sadness creeps over me at the human loss I am about to take on. This is where my strength comes from. This is how I make it day-to-day.

I asked Hospice today when they decide the time is right for them to start staying longer or making more visits. The answer was poor in my eyes. I was told they have to follow the law about driving in bad weather, so they can’t come anymore than they are scheduled. I felt like saying how sorry I was for not planning Al’s illness for warmer months, but I kept quiet.

I hear many times through this terrible winter that the only time we should be out driving  is to go to and from our job. I instantly looked at the nurse and replaced the words friend and hospice to employee, and found it soured me.

Al is my brother, but he is her job. I explained that I didn’t want to be here alone with him dying. I told her I was afraid he would die while it was just him and me. She just looked at me, then said she would try to get a volunteer to come over to sit with me. I thought to myself, how can a volunteer come and she, the nurse, who is getting paid can’t?

I instantly felt embarrassed. I am not an infant. I don’t need a babysitter.  I am not that weak, but I do expect, well I don’t know what I expect, but I expected more from this one limb from the tree for support of Al and me.

Al is in pain and yet he seems comfortable. I can see when I look at him that he is nearing Heaven’s gates very soon. I won’t go into graphics here for the weak stomachs, but I recognize the signs from 23 years of taking care of the elderly and dying.

So when it comes down to it I can cry when I see the photo. I do not know this person as I don’t know many of you personally. I do know that I trust many of you, the same as I trust God.

In the end I can and do feel alone so much of the time. I beg my child at times to come down and see Al. I cry silently that I may get a call from my kids or friends, just wondering how Al is.  I plead with Hospice. I count on my caregivers to be here. But God is here.I am not really alone.  He is standing with Al and keeping him calm. He is beginning the process of opening the gates, and for this I cry.

Tears for losing my brother and tears that he will be happy once again. Al will without a doubt watch over me and wave. He will show me those big, blue eyes and that familiar twinkle will once again shine. The heavens will open up and the skin will be shed away and Al will be free to smile once again.