In God’s Arms – Part 6 (Jul-Aug 2002)

By Matt Dabbs

In God’s Arms: Part 6

“I’m ready to meet Jesus”

Greg finally rested some Sunday night. He kept saying, “I’m happy. I’m ready to meet Jesus. I’m the luckiest man in the whole wide world!”

Monday morning at 5:00am, Greg abruptly sat up in bed. Family members in the room at the time told me he raised his arms to heaven and started shouting, “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” He began seeing people who previously passed on from this life. He exclaimed, “I see angels. Mom is an angel. Angie is an angel.” With shouts of excitement, he had managed to awaken the entire hospital floor. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Did Greg catch a glimpse of heaven?”

I arrived at the hospital at 7:00am Monday morning. Greg apologized to me for shouting so loudly earlier that day. He said, “I hope I didn’t embarrass you.” I said, “Greg, you didn’t embarrass me. I love you and I am very, very proud of you.” Greg replied, “I couldn’t help it. I think I’ll go at 10:00 tomorrow morning. I want you to be here at 8:30 or 9:00. I want to be alone with you. I have a surprise for you. You like surprises, don’t you?” I said, “Sure, I do!” Greg smiled at me contently with a glimmer in his eye.

Greg pleaded with me not to leave him. I assured him I would stay with him. I sat by his side and held his hand in mine. At one point, I moved over to sit on the couch so he could rest. He said, “You can come sit in this chair right next to me.” I moved closer to him.

Greg’s pain was intensifying. His head began throbbing. The blood was slowly draining from his head. The nurse gave Greg icepacks to help alleviate part of the pain. Greg held his head in his hands. Finally, he was able to rest.

After resting, Greg called me to his side. He opened his eyes and said, “Angie, I decided I want to tell you now. I don’t want to wait. I want you to know you are the one who led me back to Christianity.” With an ornery grin, he said, “You never knew that, did you?” He went on to tell me about how he liked going to church with me and about the various conversations we had had about God. My heart and soul were bubbling over with joy. Tears flowed freely down my face. Greg couldn’t have told me anything more special. He was right. I didn’t realize that I had had an impact on his life. I remember visiting with him after he had fallen away from God. I thought my words were not even touching him I wasn’t even sure he was listening to me at all. Greg didn’t ever look me in the eye or pay much attention to me when I did talk to him. Perhaps, he had been listening and the Holy Spirit had been working in his life.

My mom returned to Greg’s room to sit with us. Greg sat straight up in bed. My mom said, “Greg, do you need to go to the bathroom?” Greg replied, “No, Mom, I just want to hug you.” Their bodies embraced for a good five minutes. Watching my mother and brother hold each other tightly gave me a very warm feeling inside. They exchanged, “I love yous”. Their bodies rocked gently back and forth. Greg lay down and asked my mom if she would lie down with him for five minutes. Of course, she did. Greg knew the end was very near.

Greg sat up again and said, “I want to hug you, now.” I’ll never forget the feel of the strong muscles in his back. I thought, “How could someone so sick feel so strong?” He hugged me ever so tightly. The feeling shot through me like sunshine filling my soul. That would be our last embrace.

John walked in to see Greg for a few more moments. As I approached the door, John moved over to my brother’s side to my mom take him to the bathroom. A second later, my brother collapsed into a pool of blood on the floor. Quickly, I turned to see his thin, frail legs bent back, his head hanging limply over, and his arms loosely dangling towards the floor. My heart sank and broke in two. My brother was really dying and there was nothing I could do about it. Numerous thought passed through my head in a split second. I ran out into the hall and called loudly for help. The nurse walked in and said, “Oh, my God! We’re going to need more help!” I called for more assistance. It took three nurses to lift my brother’s lifeless body up into the bed. As he lay in his bed, he looked up at my mom with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. He was totally helpless.

We found out later that my brother was experiencing “bleed-out”. Greg’s blood was literally draining out of his body. Blood was in his vomit, in his stood, and freely flowed from his rectum. The pain he endured had to be excruciating.

I stepped out of Greg’s room while the nurses cleaned him up. My body felt weak and my heart was racing. When we were allowed to return to his room, my parents each held one of Greg’s hands. I sat at the end of the bed. The moments were tense. Greg’s head, stomach and back began hurting more and more. The morphine he had been receiving every two hours didn’t seem to have any effect now.

Greg’s color was slowly changing and his breathing was slowing. He was passing into a comatose state. We held on to every breath, wondering if it would be his last. My dad began frantically saying, “Not now, Son. Not now, Son. It’s not time.” My dad had been telling people Greg would walk out of the hospital on Wednesday. Dad had prayed and believed Greg would be completely healed.

I glanced at the door of Greg’s room, and saw David and my three-year-old daughter, Rachel. David came in to the room and asked me if I wanted to step out for a second to give her a hug. I stepped out and held her tightly. I needed the hug as much as she did. My aunt said, “Angie, don’t you think you need to go back in there?” “Sure”, I said. I stood up to walk toward Greg’s room. I heard someone say, “I think he’s gone.” In my mind, I thought that’s not possible. I had just stepped out for a moment. I rushed into his room and looked for his chest to move up and down. I listened for a breath of air. There was no movement. His eyes had a blank stare. I felt his body. It was still warm, but it was gradually cooling off. He was really gone. My momma lay over his body crying, “I’m not ready to give you up.” Daddy was sobbing and holding Greg’s hand. “This just had to be a dream”, I thought. “Can’t we wake him up?”

At 10:50am, Dr. Tippin came in to examine Greg. He checked his pupils, his pulse, his blood pressure, and his throat. I had not really seen Greg’s throat up until that moment. It was covered with blood sores as big as quarters. I wondered, “Would we ever really know how much he had suffered?”

David and I helped my mom back to the family waiting room. I held her as tightly as I could. I can’t recall what was said during that time. I do remember a nun sitting with us and trying to offer as much comfort as she could.

Soon, it was time to leave the hospital and begin the drive home. The conversation was slow and quiet. A feeling of numbness filled the air.

Next week: Burying my brother

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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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