While we waited to see if our brother was going to come off the ventilator, there were a number of people praying.
As for me, I reached a point of, “God, Your will be done and help us accept it.”
I realize there are some reading this who make faith a great factor. Perhaps even going so far to say, “if only they had MY preacher there, if only they claimed his healing, if only they believed God for a miracle.”
We were looking for a miracle. Even the doctor told us he believed it was a miracle that Ricky was still with us. We all thought that. But, when we began to see the extent of the brain damage, I had my human doubts. It appeared to me, Ricky was here because the doctor shocked his heart 39 times, not giving up on him. If that was the case, then what was the purpose? For it was next to impossible to see any “good” thing come from such a tragedy.
Our brother, once full of life, laying helpless, at the mercy of all those around him. To think God meant something “good” for the rest of us through Ricky’s suffering, seemed like a selfish thing to me on our part. It still does and I can understand how an Atheist thinks.
However, that is where faith comes in for a Christian. I would be lying to you if I told you I had the warm fuzzies for anything resembling faith. Quite the contrary. When I wasn’t at the hospital, apart from my siblings, alone, I felt anger. Not a why-did-this-happen-to-us kind of thing. But one of feeling completely helpless to do anything. Waiting on God was not easy and what if God didn’t make His will clear to us?
I didn’t ask for signs or wonders. I didn’t make bargains with God such as, “If You do this, I’ll do such-n-such.” No. I knew just as our brother was at the mercy of all around him, we all were at the mercy of God. However that would play out, I knew within myself that God had seen us all grow up together: He knew every tear, every moment of laughter, our squabbles and our love for one another. He had been there all the time in the house we grew up in. He had been there when our parents were alive and He was still with us.
Ricky had to be suctioned every few minutes or he would drown in his own fluid. Even though the nurses made no big deal about it, I didn’t have the patience to wait for them to come and do it. So, I told them to show me how. They were more than glad. It was the last thing I could do for him while he was on this earth. Every now and then his eyes would gaze into mine. I saw what appeared to be great sadness. But was it? They (the doctors and nurses) said no, that he wasn’t really aware of anything. Only his brain stem was working, they said, but they had no proof. Even the tests couldn’t show it. But, his siblings treated him as if he could hear and understand.
My last indignant episode at how the staff treated him, allowed me to talk to one of his nurses, who had patience with me. I found him to be very understanding of our needs and wants. He asked me, “What is it that you think your brother is trying to show you through his eyes?” I told him,”Either to not give up on him or to let him go.”
Also, Ricky was scheduled for a lung biopsy. Even though he was a positive man in every way throughout his life, we were not convinced it was not going to be lung cancer. His doctor had told him before hand they thought it was Cancer.
We all could see he was not feeling well, but Ricky being the man he was, never let on about his health issues. At times, he would laugh them off, as if no big deal. I will say here, that my brother was diagnosed with AIDS back in 1988 or 1989. He was sent home with a death sentence of two years. But God…
We waited for signs of improvement, but there were none. All that could be done for him was suctioning and pain med. We massaged his legs, talked to him, anything we could do that we thought could relieve his suffering.
Finally, we came to the conclusion there was nothing that could be done, but to let him go. Ricky, himself, would want that. He was a free spirit, independent, a rolling stone. No way would he want to live hooked up on machines.
July 3rd, the staff told us we could take him off life support at anytime. They suggested that day as if he were to pass on the 4th, we might not want to remember a holiday with a loved one passing. It made no difference to us. We just wanted to end his suffering. So we went for the 3rd.
All the family was called in and we gathered around his bedside. The ventilator was taken out. I began to softly sing, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,” thinking he would be gone within a minute. But he wasn’t. He began to suffer without the ventilator. I ran out of the room, speaking rather loudly, “Our brother is suffering! This isn’t suppose to be happening! Do something!” We all were under the impression he would go quickly.
They come in and start giving him something to calm him down. We stayed by his bedside for the longest time, waiting. But, his body was still strong, they said. They told us it could take up to two weeks! I was livid. “Thanks for letting us know ahead of time!”
We stay with him all day and into the night. I continued to suction him, as the fluid built up in his lungs.
I notice his eyes before and after removing the ventilator. Both times, his eyes appeared to be looking at something off in the distance, something beautiful, awesome. I’ve never seen human eyes look like that. I asked my sister if she noticed it and she said, “Yes, I think he was seeing angels.”
Some things are kind of sacred to me. That is one reason it has taken me so long to write about this. it is like by talking about it, you make it less beautiful or something. I probably didn’t explain that too well, but that is how I have felt.
The next morning, my husband and brother come in and tell me to go home to get some rest. I didn’t want to. Who would suction Ricky? Five nurses came into the room and told me they would. I couldn’t trust them because I knew Ricky wasn’t their only patient. Besides, this was just a job to them. For us, it was our beloved brother. They assured me they would watch over him and not let him suffer.
I let my husband take me home and I laid down. Just for a little while, I told myself. A few hours later I wake up and it is after 7 p.m. I fussed at my husband for not waking me up sooner. He said he wanted me to rest. I jump up and tell him to take me to the hospital. He had been up earlier and said Ricky wasn’t doing good. We rush off.
I found out no one was with Ricky. I began to pray that he wouldn’t be alone when he died. Even so, Your will, Lord, not mine. Please don’t let him suffer on anyone’s account.
I get to the hospital, rush up to his room, they have him on a gurney moving him to another unit. As I see him from across the room, his eyes appear to be glowing, yellow as if bright sunshine coming from them. I wanted to shout, “Ricky, I love you,” But I knew you didn’t shout in a hospital. I ran up to him. The nurse says she thinks he’s not going to be around much longer. I put my hand in my pocket saying I was going to call our brother and sister and then she says, “He just passed.”
He was gone. I was very much aware of my belief that as his soul left his body, he saw me. He saw me throw my body over his. He saw me wanting not to leave him. It was like he was hanging on long enough to see me one last time. Everybody else had been there earlier that day. Only one left was me. Knowing my brother, he could have been praying for God to give him the strength to say good-bye.
God was good to give my brother and me that one last chance.
But, it’s still not over. My brother had changed into a new man the past couple years.