He allows me to hold the bag as his angry stomach forces a small cup of baby cereal to resurface. Through cracked and parched lips, with sunken and weary eyes, he looks up and mouths, “Thank you.”
Layer by layer, evidence of strength, vibrance, and dignity falls to the floor like a withering flower's petal drop. I pick them up the best I can as I know they are sacred, but they are not mine to keep; only mine to mourn.
I think ahead to what will soon be our last words, last laughs, his last breath. The clutch of loss overwhelms me as I ponder if his furrowed brow is less about physical pain and more about him sharing the same thoughts.
There is a tearing of one’s soul in abiding a shedding life, a heartache words can neither protect nor comfort. As I balance this fragility and strength in the palm of my hand, I seek God.
Yet, I don’t know how to pray.
I pray for peace, for comfort, for understanding. I pray God takes him and I pray He keeps him here for just o n e m o r e d a y. I’ve prayed for a miracle and whispered a hollow, “I wish”, but I know from my deep within, he will not get better and I will lose my brother of 60 years.
And, I weep.
As the clock wanders wearily into night's darkness, it's ticking seems to grow louder, speaking swaying words "broken, alone, broken, alone" into my ear. And, I realize this is who I am: broken and alone.
And then I feel it, the familiarity of my brokenness as the words, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" envelopes me with a gentle caress. My brokenness does not feel dark like I feared it might, nor am I alone. It feels tender, warm, and surprisingly peaceful.
And in this peace, I rest in knowing faith is not that God will rescue us from suffering, but that He will be with us.
And, He is.
Photo by Rory McKeever on Unsplash