In January 2019, our brother Tim died from brain cancer. He had been declared free from lung cancer only a few short months earlier; so we were shocked he ended up in the hospital in October 2018 with brain cancer from cells that migrated from his lungs. We watched him slowly disintegrate. He was a victim of paranoid-schizophrenia already, and the confusion caused by his brain cancer accelerated that fear that he was always being watched, followed, threatened. It was a sad thing to watch. By Christmas 2018 it was apparent that he was quickly declining in health and mental capabilities. He was living with our sister, Judy, at the time; he was so afraid of everything that she cancelled all her travel plans for that season and stayed home with him.
In early January 2019, Tim entered the hospital. He was so confused and in pain that he actually felt it best for him to be there. We sisters took turns staying with him in the hospital. We watched his confusion grow daily, we did what we could to comfort him . . . and we cried.
The day Tim went into Hospice care, two of us who had stayed with him the night before were on either side of his bed weeping. He had spent the night picking at something in the air above him and muttering to himself. That morning he was so distraught that he cried out, “Y’all, please help me.” I cry now thinking about it. It was an awful time for us all. As we stood by his bed sobbing, two women walked in. We thought they were nurses. We told them what was happening. Turns out, they were Hospice care workers whom the hospital had called to come over and speak with us.
Tim went to Hospice that day. He was somewhat lucid for a couple of days, and then he began to sleep a lot more, occasionally crying out for help. Tim wanted to live; we wanted him to live. We cried a whole lot as we stood by his bed and watched as his bodily functions began to cease and he stopped eating. When I sat beside him the day before he died and stared into his blank, fixed eyes, I knew he was really no longer with us. And I wept to see him going, knowing that even though we wanted him to live here on earth with us, that would not be.
Tim died the next night. We had all settled down to rest a bit. Dave and I were in one of the waiting rooms lying on the couches when my sister texted a 911 to me. I was up and running, getting to Tim just seconds before he breathed his last here on earth and stepped into eternity. Strangely, I didn’t cry that night. I had done my weeping while he was alive, grieving over all the experiences and life we would no longer celebrate together here on earth. Now he was gone, and I knew he was free from the pain, the disease, the confusion, the sadness of this earth. So, I celebrated his homegoing, hard as it was to see him leave.
Tim was a late-in-life believer In Jesus Christ. But the years that he had been serving Christ, his family and the world around him saw a different man—well, actually they saw the man he really was once he dropped the façade of being a tough, can’t-touch-me kind of guy. He comforted cancer patients as he would go for his own treatments. He bought us thoughtful gifts and cards that we will cherish forever. He laughed a whole lot, a big infectious laugh that we all enjoyed. He loved to play jokes on folks. He loved his family and enjoyed any time we were able to get together. He also learned and practiced forgiveness as much as his paranoid mind would allow.
I thought of all this—especially the grieving I did—as I read 2 Samuel 12:15-23. David grieved the illness of his son. He wore sackcloth and lay on the floor, refusing to eat; all the while praying for his son to live. Once he knew that his child had died, he got up and bathed, worshipped God, and moved forward with his life. He did not forget his son; he simply realized he would not have his son with him on earth any longer. He explained this to the people around him: “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, but the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
Precious little brother Tim. Someday we will see you again, in heaven. In the meantime, we always love you and will never forget your life with us on earth.
(P.S. I sure hope that you and mama aren’t giving the angels too much mischief. Hehe)