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.

Daily Prompt; The Luckiest People, #DP, Daily Prompt

Who was the first person you encountered today? Write about him or her.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us PEOPLE.

The first person my eyes laid on this morning was Al. Yes, he was breathing. I stopped in the doorway and just enjoyed watching those lungs go up and down. I know he will be better off when he is in heaven; but I am on the fence.

The sister in me tells him all the time that he has my permission to go. But there is a little fight going on inside my head. The emotion and the reality. It is so hard to let a loved one go without dragging behind it sorrow and sadness, tears and broken hearts.sorrow

I gaze over the person lying so still in that bed and I stand in shock as I visibly take in at the huge amount of weight loss. My heart skips a beat as I see this MSA winning over his spirit.

Rhino our cat sits by my side taking the view in also. He rubs against me as if trying to comfort me.DSC00159 Rhino spent a few hours guarding Al’s bedroom last night. I know in my heart that he knows the truth as I do. Rhino and I will carry our sadness together one day soon. He will climb in my lap and I shall shed tears on his fur.

Floods of pages race through my mind as I replay all of the fun things Al and I have done the past six years. I will never be able to walk into another auction without thinking Al is by my side. I will smile to myself as I vision him going through all of the items for sale, looking for a coca cola item.coca cola flag

Going past a buffet restaurant will always bring a tear to my eye as I recount the numerous times Al made choices without any help.

I haven’t blogged about Al in a couple of days. There is nothing much to say. Pretty much everything is the same and yet there are slight hints that his time is nearing.

He is sleeping most of the day and nights now. He is eating very little. Each night at bedtime he request I pray for him to have God deliver Mom and Dad to come take him home.

Most of the conversations between him and me are when he is hurting or needing a drink. He rarely ask for food and when he does eat, it is mainly still the ice-cream. When his eyes are open, sometimes I wonder if he is here with me as he seems to stare straight ahead.

There is a peace in his room that I can not describe. It is as if someone other than me is rocking him gently, keeping him warm until the final call is heard.rocking-chair

Every night I give permission for Al to go on to heaven, as long as he saves me a spot. Those big, blue eyes look into mine and I know without a doubt he will do this.Al and Rhino 3

The angels will fly down and take him gently to heaven where he will once again smile.Angel_Wings__Animated__by_Iaenic

Tears will fall as I say my final goodbye, remembering he was and is the best brother in the whole wide world.

I love you buddy, don’t ever forget.



Save Me a Spot

Al woke up just as the shower girls came in this morning. For a few hours he was very chatty and seemed very content. He ate puree french toast sticks, 2), and some juice. After the shower was over, the caregiver and I, mainly her, dug into his room, bagging up so many supplies that we knew he would never use again.
Then he went to sleep around 11am and never woke up again unless we woke him up. He did eat lunch but complained of heartburn most of the evening. Except when he was wanting to tell me about his heartburn he slept.
I woke him up for supper. He ate about five bites of macaroni and cheese. I had made him a diet coke, chocolate syrup, and ice-cream slushy. He made the most wicked face when I gave that to him. I think it was very cold.
His neck is so sore, that when I try to move his head he flinched in pain. It is a shame that they have so many cancer treatments but no treatment for this deep of pain. But of course there are medications that do the opposite of what they are supposed to do when he takes them, so we are limited.
The story I told you last night about the Texas Catheter was continued this morning. The movable parts had to be taken off and a thorough cleaning to all. Stacy, the caregiver was showing the utmost patience when after a half hour went by, she finally got a new one on.
I called the Hospice team and questioned them on why we were being forced to deal with this whole catheter thing. I enforced that we are not nurses. I pleaded that they do this on their visits each week and they agreed. So no more funny stories about the pop-off, run-a-way condoms! LOL I guess maybe I could be speaking too quickly, as that little sucker could come off while I am the only here one here late afternoon on, so I better quit talking about it while I am ahead.
I watched American Idol between checking on Al and doing dishes and tidying up the house. It came snack-time for Al and once again I had to wake him up. Of course he wanted ice-cream with chocolate syrup. I think I need to buy stock in the dairy business, because it is very hard keeping it here in the house!
So all in all the day was busy and yet quiet. I would say that Al slept 12 out of 14 hours, and unless something happens tonight, the midnight hours should be quiet too, knock on wood.
I sort of think that God is getting Al all rested up for his journey. His tremors are once again quiet and his body lays pretty still. He told me that the first thing he is going to do when he gets to heaven is fly over to his Grandma’s in Florida and visit with her. The last thing he requested before lights out, was to pray God comes and gets him tonight. I prayed over him and I told him it was alright if he went, as long as he saved me a spot next to him. His big, blue eyes looked into mine. They became wide but he said nothing. I said, “Blink if you are going to save me a spot.” and he blinked.

Please Continue to Pray

Al now has the fungus back after taking a full dose of medication. It has attacked his toes. His feet go from hot to cold and I can feel a wetness that I can not see in his hands and feet.

For a few days off and on he will carry a temperature. I give him medication to bring it back down but was told that in time he will spike a temp that will remain.

His eyes are still swollen and the one eye is very red. He told me he saw two TV’s and he is not on any mind altering drugs. I think his body is beginning to take a new journey. It must be a slow process but I do see changes almost daily.

Today, he had a cup of ice-cream twice and I am about to go in and see if he is hungry. He is still drinking but I have to hand-feed him his drinks through a straw, holding the one end with my finger tip and releasing the liquid into his mouth.

I just hate what is happening. I don’t know which is worse anymore, the MSA or the journey to heaven’s gates.

I am just asking you, my friends to continue to pray, asking for a smooth and comfortable journey for Al.

Al on snow day