August 30, 2015
His hollowed, hallowed eyes say so much. Hidden beneath the gratitude and love, one can see the suffering and the surrender. He has been such a valiant suffering soul.
Wound care three times a week for the past _10_______ years has taken its toll.
He is a suffering Christ.
The circular wound on the crown of his head- once all scabby - now has a crater about one inch in diameter.
Having gone through the pain of radiation and the resulting blisters, his lower lip is disappearing more and more to the point that only half the lip remains. Keeping saliva within his mouth is an added challenge.
His breathing has become more and more difficult. Simply walking to the bathroom is hard on his lungs.
The wounds on his back are multiplying as though he were scourged.
The wounds on his feet are coming back with a vengeance.
The wound on his left side is bigger than my hand.
My dear brother,
In an age where people are so concerned about how they look, I have watched you endure with such patient endurance, the stares of others, the pointing of their fingers, the gossip about your appearance.
I have watched you struggle to get into the bath water before wound care and moan as the water hits your open wounds. I have heard you say, “Jesus, you know how much I love you,” as you got into water that was a little too cool.
I have watched you take a towel and press it to your enlarged side wound and say, “Jesus, I love you,” before you tear it away.
Whenever I hear Enya, John Denver, or Louis Armstrong, they make me think of wound care - how their voices helped “distract” you from the moment.
I once got the courage up to ask you if you had asked our Lord to be a victim-soul. Your reply, “Since day one, I have offered my sufferings for priests.”
How I long to bring you comfort!
I am so grateful to assist with your wound care - a necessary evil. And yet this showing of compassion causes you so much pain which weighs so heavily on my heart.
I am so sad that you suffer.
I am so sad that you are dying.
And I will be so sad when you are no longer with us.
These emotions can be so conflicting - I want you here, but I know you suffer. I don’t want you to suffer, but I don’t want you to die. We all hang on to hope - we want you here with us.
I’m scared of the grief, of losing a sibling, of losing you.
In the end, it isn’t what we want. We must remember to submit ourselves to God’s will - to surrender all --- our fears, our wants, our sorrows, our joys.
And yet, I still wonder ….
- did I comfort Joe enough?
- did I spend enough quality time with him?
- did I apologize enough for all of the grievances I have caused Joe from youth to now? (being one year and one day apart in age has brought us both some memorable occasions)
- did I cause Joe more pain during wound care due to my lack of medical expertise or for any other reason?
Why am I so weak? Why can’t I place all of my trust in Jesus? The spirit is willing; the flesh is so weak.
I think of Our Blessed Mother who had the strength and the grace to watch her Beloved Son be scourged almost to the point of death, then watch as her Beloved Son carried the cross of our sins, fall, and struggle to stand back up, then watch as the nails were hammered into her Beloved Son’s hands and feet, then watch as her Beloved Son struggled to breathe as He took His final breath, and finally, hold her Beloved Son’s torn up Body in her arms.
I am turning to Mary to help me with my overwhelming grief about my beloved brother’s scourged body, about my beloved brother’s struggle to walk from A to B, about the pain my beloved brother experiences in the taking off and the applying of bandages and ointment to his wound-covered body, and about my beloved brother’s final breath.
Our Lady of Sorrows,
pray for us.