Bradley, my older brother, died of cancer on March 24, 1978. It was Good Friday.
He was three.
I haven’t met him yet, but he was such an integral part of my family that it feels like I must have.
I’m sharing some of my mom’s own words as a way of honoring both his memory and hers:
“As I held his little body close to me in bed, his arms wrapped around my neck, I realized that my emotions were divided again. My cherished little boy was had been through so much already–he could hardly breath, he had been suffocating, and now he was vomiting. How could I want to hold him back from that wonderful, painless life he was about ready to enter? How?
I was his mommy. I had carried him in my own body, under my heart. He was my son, my treasured, sensitive, very special little boy. How could I ever give him up, even if it was into the loving hands of the very loving God?
When he awoke the next day he was in no visible pain. He did not seem to suffer very much–it was more like he slowed down one final time, ran out of energy… ran out of life.He spent the majority of that day in his own world. Or could he have been between two worlds? He could answer and look at me when I talked to him, but he also carried on conversations with unseen, unfelt listeners the rest of the time.
When some people are close to death their breathing may sound like what is called a death rattle. Once you have heard it, you will never forget it. I heard it for the first time outside a patient’s door at the hospital where I worked, and I never thought it could sound worse than it did in that dark, sterile hallway. It sounded much, much worse when I heard it coming from my own son.
When I heard the way Bradley was breathing, I knew his death was imminent. I picked him up, carried him in to the family room, and sat down in the rocking chair to rock him one last time. I told him that Jesus had come to take him to heaven–it was time to go along with Him. Bradley opened his little eyes, and through my tears I saw a flicker of a smile as he took one
And then Bradley took flight and soared in the arms of Jesus to a new and perfect life. Now, at last, Bradley had been healed!”
That was 34 years ago tomorrow. August will mark the 10th anniversary of their reunion, with many, many more to come!
Where, oh Death, is your victory?
Where, oh Death, is your sting?