In God’s Arms – Part 4 (Jul-Aug 2002)

By Matt Dabbs

Preparing for my brother’s death

Greg immediately proceeded to prepare for his death. The first thing he did was to ask my mom for his briefcase. It was important to him to take care of his business affairs. He loved his work and wanted to leave things in order as much as possible.

I asked my brother if there were anyone he would like to see. He named off the people most dear to him during his life. First, he mentioned his best friend, John. He, also, mentioned an old girlfriend, Natalie. He wanted to see our Alabama cousins, Mike, Rhonda and Linda. Lastly, he wanted to see his first love, Pam.

Immediately, I began making phone calls to contact these special loved ones in his life. First, I called Natalie. She was shocked to hear the news. She said she had written to Greg twice this past summer, but she never heard from him. She reacted with tears of anguish and disbelief. I expressed to her Greg’s wishes that she come. She didn’t know if she could.

Saturday evening, Natalie called back and said, “My plane leaves in forty minutes. I still don’t know if I can make myself come. I watched both of my parents die. I don’t know if I can stand to watch Greg die, too. I’ll have to drive like hell to get to the airport. But, I’ll let you know if I don’t come.”

Greg and Natalie had dated steadily a few years before all of this. Natalie had wanted to marry him, but Greg knew he couldn’t. He never let Natalie know he was ill. Unselfishly, he let her go after a year and a half.

Natalie did make the plane. She arrived late that same evening. Greg had been awaiting anxiously her arrival. Greg and Natalie talked most of the night. I imagine many tears were shed as they said their last farewells. Natalie slept a couple of hours in the middle of the night and then returned to spend her remaining time with him. After leaving to catch her flight back to Denver, Greg called my dad in to pray. Greg said, “Natalie’s not a Christian. Let’s pray for her soul.” I believe Greg witnessed to her that night with all of his heart. Surely, he touched her spirit.

Next, I called Greg’s friend, John. John was the minister of a First Christian Church in New Mexico. John had worked for Greg’s landscaping business in previous years. Greg used to be a rather moody person and quite difficult to get along with. John remained kind, loyal and understanding to Greg during their years together. Greg and John did a lot of traveling to interesting places. They also attended the same church and played basketball with one another. John talked to Greg many times about God. Greg’s heart had been unyielding. Greg had expressed his sentiments about John by saying, “John is the best friend I’ve ever had.”

When I contacted John, he was taken with sadness. He told me, “I’ll come, but I can’t make it until Monday morning.” We told Greg and he was very disappointed.

Greg had already requested that the antibiotics and blood platelets be unhooked. This would speed up the dying process. By doing so, the time to suffer would be lessened. After hearing John’s news, Greg decided to ask the doctors to put him back on double IV’s, hook up the antibiotics, and start up the blood platelets again. My heart ached deeply for him. Greg was willing endure enormous suffering just see his friend one more time. The love Greg expressed for his special friend was priceless.

It only took me a second to decide to call John back. I felt a desperate need to let John know just how much Greg loved him and what he was willing to sacrifice and endure for him. When I called John, he said, “I’ll check about coming sooner and get back with you.” John asked the elders of his church and they sent him with good wishes and said, “Stay as long as you need to.”

John arrived shortly thereafter. Greg smiled so big when John walked into the room. It was a beautiful reunion of two best friends. John and Greg spent a lot of time visiting and sharing that day. The day was interrupted with bouts of vomiting and extreme blood loss. Greg’s body was weakening rapidly.

With hours left for Greg to live, I called Pam to come see him. Several years ago, Greg and Pam had fallen in love. Pam had wanted to marry him, but Greg wanted to finish college first. He loved her deeply, but he was too shy to express it. After several attempts from Pam to get Greg to change his mind, Pam decided to marry another man. In the following years, Greg never contacted her. However, he talked about her to John and I. He told us how much he loved her. Occasionally, I would encourage him to give her a friendly call. He wouldn’t though, saying, “I can’t do that. She’s a married woman. It wouldn’t be right.” A few years ago, Pam had visited me and shared her deep affection for my brother. She told me she wanted to call him, but she knew it wasn’t right. It was so sad to watch two people in love and yet, unable to contact one another.

Pam was both surprised and shocked upon hearing the news. She didn’t hesitate to come. Pam walked in the hospital room as beautiful as ever. Greg lit up like a lighthouse on a hill. His smile could have stretched across the United States and back. I got up from my chair to leave them alone, but Greg asked me to please stay. Pam held his hand and tears streamed down her face. Greg looked her kindly in the eye and said, “Do you know what the biggest mistake I ever made in my life was? It was not marrying you. I love you. I’ve always loved you.” With intense emotion, Pam said, “Greg, I’ve always loved you.” My heart ached deeply for “what never was”. Then, jokingly, Greg turned to me and said, “It’s all your fault you know. You should have let each of us know how we felt about one another.” I laughed and said, “You’ve put me in the doghouse again!” I tried to leave again to give them a few moments alone. Greg looked me in the eye and said, “Sit down. You’re not getting out of this that easy.” Greg went on to tell Pam how rough the past years had been for him. He told her of his various struggles with his health. My heart went out to Pam as she listened with an aching heart.

Pam and I laughed and teased with Greg to try to lift the heaviness of the moment. Pam and I had always for giggled about everything. We both agreed Greg would have had a time if we’d become sister-in-laws. Greg said, “We would have had a lot of fun and laughter.”

Watching Pam and Greg was like watching a romantic novel unfold. Pam didn’t want to leave or say good-bye. I could tell her heart was breaking. As she left, she grabbed me in the hall and took me in her arms. She cried uncontrollably as she asked me about his condition. She kept repeating, “I just can’t believe it.” I walked her to the elevator and we hugged once more.

Next week: “I think I’m dying”

categoria commentoNo Comments dataFebruary 11th, 2014
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This author published 1598 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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