He would have been 42 today, he has been gone for 19 years.
Blonde hair, blue eyes … he was the only sibling I would have. We grew up close, fought like all brothers and sisters do. I remember my dad telling me one afternoon as I had him pinned to the floor “be careful, Pam someday he is going to be bigger than you” and it would not take long for my dads words to come true. Even as he grew I was still his great protector. As a baby and toddler I would step in front of him when people would try to talk to him, as if to say you have to go through me first to get to him. That would never change.
That evening when I walked into the waiting room of the hospital I stood in the doorway looking at the hundreds of family and friends who had gathered over the course of the day. Many of his friends huddled in small groups praying, friends standing close to one another whispering about his condition, my parents surrounded by loved ones offering hope that all would be okay. I stood there that evening just as I had so many times years before, standing in front of him, watching over him, protecting him.
When I saw him for the first time I cried and the nurse told me not to do that. She went on to explain that patients in comas can actually hear what is going on around them and they were fearful that if he heard me crying it would cause him to worry. As I took his hand he took a deep breath in, almost a gasp and blinked his eyes … it would be the last time he would do that. An involuntary movement, a spasm of sorts is what the nurse told me. She was wrong, he knew I was there and that I was going to protect him.
Nathan was 6 months old at the time of the accident. He was eating solid foods, learning to crawl and babbling words. I would leave him with family and friends so that I could sit by my brothers side. We often comment on how much Nathan resembles him. Their height, their looks, their kind spirit and their love for their family and the Lord. Nathan is sometimes called by his uncle’s name and he tells me it’s a great compliment and he is humbled to know he is like him. Only 2 people could be next to the bed, the rules were sometimes overlooked because of dad, but soon I would enforce them. It became a steady stream of people in and out of the room, I often wondered why they were really there. I think some genuinely were concerned and came to pay their respects, others I think just wanted to see what he looked like. Soon a sign was posted on the sliding glass door that read,
Immediate Family Only …
We knew too much, and we knew he was already gone. I am not sure why God didn’t take him immediately. It would be a long month for our family. Decisions that no parent should ever have to make about their child hung heavy over a man who had spent his entire life sitting across from families of loved ones where we now sat. We were told it could take up to several hours for his heart to finally stop beating. We said our goodbyes, each of us very quietly and in our way. Some didn’t understand why we did what we did, some criticized our decision for turning the machines off and others openly judged us for not having faith that God would heal him. Faith was all we had, we lived for it. Healing would come on God’s terms, not ours. Hours passed and his heart continued to beat as strong as it ever had. It would take almost 2 weeks for it to stop.
I was there when he took his last breath. I was no longer his protector, he was now mine. Life would not be the same without him. Time would heal the hurt and loss we felt but the heart will never forget him. His presence with us is as strong today as it was 19 years ago. My children often speak of their uncle, stories are told of how he colors with Caroline and plays basketball with Alex. They will point to his picture and say that’s him, Momma … that’s who played with us today. I know he now protects Elizabeth just as I protected him for so many years. He is never far from us.
So happy birthday, AC! Today we will celebrate your life, the time we had with you here and God’s amazing love for you. We celebrate His plan for your life and praise Him for giving you back to us as our guardian angel.