He Died Alone
I can’t ever completely shake it. Sometimes it comes over me in the middle of the night when I awake…sometimes it chills my heart when I am driving along…sometimes it happens as I am sitting in my office trying to think of something helpful to say or to write. My brother died about a year and a half ago. I live about two hours from where he lived. When I learned he had been taken to the hospital on Friday night, I went to visit him the next day. The stroke had affected his swallowing and he couldn’t hear us. I was to begin a gospel meeting the very next morning in a little town about three and a half hours away from the hospital my brother was in. So I left that afternoon and went to my appointed post. He bravely said, before I left, “It’s in God’s hands whether I live or die.” And so it was. That’s how it came to be that my brother departed this life that very night…alone. If I had known…if I had only known…what was coming in just a few hours, I would never have left him alone. It haunts me still. And it really doesn’t help that I asked him, before I left, if he would be okay…or if he needed me to stay. He assured me that he would be fine. Only…he wasn’t. And in that critical hour of the ending of his life, I, his older brother, was not there for him.
I know he wouldn’t hold it against me. He had plenty of things he could have held against me in life, but he never did. He just couldn’t find it in his heart to begrudge me anything. That’s the way it was between us…him looking up to me…him being taken for granted by me…him not holding it against me…and me not being there for him.
So, I was wondering…what does one say to this kind of sorrow that keeps washing over a soul? And…what does one do…that really helps…in the face of such regret?