After learning my brother Paul was in hospice care I called my Dad and my brother Nate to see when we were going to all meet up for a visit together. We were all going to wait for my husband to get back from work but then JD called me and said he wasn't going to be home until May 20th instead of the May 4th date he was planning on. Since the schedule had changed my Dad and I wondered if meeting sooner rather than later was the prudent thing to do. So we called up Nate and asked when was the best time to get here from the East Coast in his schedule. The best time for all ended up being April 27- 30th. And of course once we had gotten that all settled JD's company decided that he didn't need to stay at work until the 20th and would be home May 4th. Oh well, at least this meant it would be a family visit. My Dad, my two brothers and I all together again. The last time we were together was at my Mom's funeral almost 2 years ago. So we were way overdue for a family meeting.
Of course a couple days before we were all set to leave I came down with a cold. The plan this time around was to leave KD with her Grandparents (JD's parents who live two doors down) and I would just bring baby AD. I was doubting if I would even be able to handle the road trip and if I would just be miserable and too sick to even visit while I was at Paul's. And then the day before we left KD's Grandma got sick! JD messaged me on how things were going and I started cussing via Blackberry messenger. I felt like I wasn't going to be able to see my brother, everything was against me and this visit and I had no idea if this was going to be my last chance to see him or not. My head was spinning and I was starting to freak out.
I had gone to KD's school that morning, despite being sick, to teach and I had forgotten my camera. KD was due to be special helper for the day and I had loaned my camera to another Mom to take pictures of her and I together at the front of the class leading circle time. This was just too much for me to handle, I was sick, Grandma was sick, the camera was lost, my brother is dying. I didn't have the keys to the school and I was leaving the next morning to see Paul, and I didn't want to have to rely on others to take pics and get me copies... anyways, I was unhappy. I finally got a call back from the Youth Pastor of the church where the school meets and he said I could come by and they would let me in and have keys to the classroom so I could fetch my camera (The Mom had put it in KD's bin for me to get it when I could). One crisis over. Now to think about what to do with KD if Grandma was going to be too sick to watch her. Do I take KD or not go or what?
Finally I remembered my neighbor offering to watch KD overnight if I had to run up to see Paul. So I called her and cashed in on the offer. She was happy to help out. I called Grandma to let her know but she said she could still watch KD and not to worry. But the next morning I got a call from Grandpa saying she was even more sick than the day before. Thank God I had talked to my neighbor the day before. I ran next door and told her I still needed her to watch KD and then I went and got KD all set up with an overnight bag. KD was so excited to be staying over with her little buddies next door, she had no problem saying goodbye to me. There is a little girl her age and another one a couple years older next door and also a little boy two years younger than KD. They all have a blast with each other. Crisis averted, now time to get in the car with the baby and my Dad and visit my brother.
We did the road trip all in one day, the baby did really well... slept through most of it. We went directly to Paul's place. When we stepped in the door my other brother, Nate, was already there visiting. It was nice to finally see Nate again too. We had a few good hours with Paul and then he just couldn't handle the pain and the small talk anymore, but at this point it was 8:45 pm anyways and time to get to the hotel and put the baby to bed.
During the next couple days there were moments when we showed up and were pretty much shooed off because Paul wasn't feeling well and in a poor mood. And then there were moments where we were all laughing and having a good time, or talking about death and crying and lifting each other up. In fact during one visit it was just my Dad and I with Paul and they were talking about the frustration of all this pain he was in and not knowing how the end was going to come and Paul was saying he wasn't the type to commit suicide or he may have gone for that route by now. I was sitting there with the baby listening and then started crying. Paul asked me what I needed to talk about, what was on my mind. I said I wished there was something I could do or that I had a solution for all of this and said it was frustrating. He said, "Don't think about what you can't do, think about what you can learn from all of this." I knew he was right, and I knew right then and there that those were some great pearls of wisdom.
I can't believe it! He's the one suffering and dying and there he is offering me words of wisdom! Shouldn't I be the one encouraging here ? Amazing. Truly amazing. He is such a special person. In fact tonight, as I hugged him goodbye, he said, "I'm okay. I know you want to do everything, but I'm okay." Almost got me crying again, but I held it together. There he goes... counseling me in my grief when he is on his death bed.
This whole process is difficult with Paul. I don't know how long we have with him, I don't know how this cancer is going to take him, I don't know long he is going to have to suffer. I don't know a lot of things. But I do know that there will be plenty of lessons to learn from my big brother still and I just need to keep myself open to those learning moments and keep showing him I love him. That's all he needs, for me to love him and to not worry about him. Hard to do, not worry. But I must say I do see that he is in good hands with Ruth, his girlfriend, and I also see he is strong enough to go through this challenge without his baby sister nearby holding his hand. I want to be there for him, holding his hand, but that's not my job. I'm going to miss my big brother. He is wise and amazing and I love him so much.