It was this time last year that my brother had started showing slight signs of illness. It wasn’t anything drastic, but by Christmas that all had changed.
Standing in the kitchen on Christmas morning, the words falling from my sister-in-law’s lips left me dazed and confused. Out of left field came the news that my brother was gravely ill.
But not even the warning just minutes before could prepare me for actually seeing him. He didn’t look like my brother at all. Always the picture of health and happiness, his face was sunken and his neck collapsed. He shuffled like a man twenty years his senior. I simply couldn’t understand how he could have changed so much since Thanksgiving. I found it hard to make eye contact with him, afraid that I’d spontaneously combust into an emotional inferno, or worse yet, that my shock would hurt his feelings.
We didn’t talk of his condition or appearance other than him letting everyone know that we all needed to make sure our wills were done. He left and—with his loving finance’, Karen, and devoted brother Stan by his side—he went through all the medical testing and processes to get himself on the liver transplant list. He followed the rules, at least for the most part, and we all dreamed of the day he would get his new lease on life.
That day never came, at least not in an earthly sense, and just as quickly as he had fallen ill, he was gone. This will be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without him and, though I know that he would want us to still gather, laugh and love, it will simply never be the same. Thanksgiving and Christmas are forever changed. We miss you, Gary.
Though we know you are just beyond heaven’s door
In a place we, too, will one day live forever more
There is still an emptiness beginning to swell
In the place where love once lived and dwelled
So, today, we ask you Father to close the gap
To take us and hold us tight in your lap
To give us the strength to make this story
One that gives us peace and you all Glory.
–B. Gibson–Amen and Ehmen