I started this post about two weeks ago. It’s time to finish.
My baby brother is in the wrapping-up of his days. He will not turn 31. His wife and children will manage on their own for a good long while. He is dying, and it bites, and all is well.
It’s such a contradictory thing, this wrapping-up of days. There are so many miserable parts, the doctors and drugs and paperwork, the setting ourselves to accept a fast-approaching transition that none of us are ready to contemplate. There’s the question of when to tell the little kids, and how much to tell them, and how to explain such a grand concept as eternity to people who aren’t yet tall enough to see over the kitchen counters.
There’s the sheer beauty of seeing my siblings, all of us grown, rush and congregate and cooperate. We are a force to be reckoned with, and we will stand in the gap between our sweet sister-in-law and whatever the world may toss at her. We will require comfortable chairs be found somewhere in the hospital, and brought to our brother’s room for him. We will make sure she eats and sleeps, we will hug her, we will help her cry more than she ever thought it possible we could cry together (we’re a leaky bunch.)
One of us will lift our brother in his arms and carry him gently from our sister’s couch, to the car, from the car to the hospice, because he cannot bear to turn that brother over to a hired driver.
Come, come, ye Saints, no toil or labor fear, but with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear, grace shall be as your day.
‘Tis better far for us to strive, our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your heart will swell:
All is well! All is well!
We will pass along cryptic message that have no meaning, except to our brother and the message-sender. We will not understand them, and that is fine. The right words are said.
We will hold his hand, rub his feet, hold his head so he can rest, rub his back to soothe him through the nights.
We will laugh, and tell stories, and pick on one another… all things that make him feel loved and protected and safe, and give his darling wife permission to be joyful in some of the worst moments any of us can imagine. We will spin his hospice bed and hear him say, “Wheeeee!”
We will give him permission to go Home.
And should we die before our journey’s through, happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrows, too; with the just we shall dwell.
We’ll make the air with music ring, shout praises to our God and King!
Above the rest, this tale we’ll tell:
All is well! All is well!
A week later, we’ll get together with friends and family, and have a big party (neckties strictly prohibited) with loads of really good food, no sorrowful speeches, and a great many stories to share around the tables. We’ll sing a “special musical number” (Gunk Gunk, Said the Mister Bullfrog), and put the fun back in funeral.
This wrapping-up of days is complete. He is Home, we are here, and all is well.