There was a night when tears couldn’t come. The pain was so immense screams wouldn’t lessen the aches. There was a night when God reached out, grabbed hold of my brother’s hand, and whispered peace to his troubled soul.
At only 15 years old, my brother was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer. He was young at heart, hadn’t quite matured, and didn’t have much to say about his faith. A spitfire redhead, he could fix any wheeled machine someone threw at him. He knew all the part names, how to fix them, and why the machine wasn’t working. It was God’s gift given to him even if he didn’t believe it. My brother, like a lot of teenage boys, hated school and church. He despised social outings and couldn’t hold onto friends. He preferred his ATVs and old rusty trucks.
Cancer changed all that in the most unexpected ways.
I can still remember him telling the family that the hardest aspect of cancer was losing his hair. He always got compliments about his unruly red curls. He didn’t want to lose it. My brother did complain; honestly, he had the right to. But, that also changed when he went in for his second round of chemotherapy.
In the room next door to his, there was a toddler screeching in childhood laughter. He had been making gecko noises to the doctor. Later during that treatment, my brother saw the boy in the hall. The bald child with pain in his eyes smiled at my brother. My mom explains the emotion that ran through the hall that day as a phrase, “He is bald too.” My brother learned not to complain after that.
There was one lesson in particular that still brings me to tears. God was finally able to show my brother the truth.
I walked past his door late at night, and he was staring blankly at the ceiling. His lips were pale and his breathing was heavy and slow. I knew he was in pain. I crawled into his bed and grabbed his hand. He didn’t look at me or acknowledge my presence, I knew he needed me. I whispered in the darkness asking about his pain. He couldn’t answer but tilted his head slightly forward in an agonizing yes.
God told me to stay. I squeezed his hand tighter as I had to watch my strong, brave, little brother fight a battle he didn’t want to fight. “Father,” I wept, “take his pain away.”
I said the words through sobs and buried my head into his shoulder. I laid there, crying for a little bit longer, and felt peace knowing my best friend was being watched over. After a while, he fell asleep, and I was grateful to go back to bed. I still remember that night, and so does he.
It was the presence of God’s undying love that will make us never forget it.
My brother has hair now, it’s a halo of pure white peach fuzz. His hair color changed, just like we thought it would. Although, that wasn’t the only part of him that changed. On his 16th birthday, I got to watch as he went on a date with a sweet girl who had lost her own brother to cancer. It was an amazing moment that made both moms cry. Before cancer, my brother didn’t “believe” in going on dates. He would rather have had a nice dinner with his old Ford in the backyard, alone.
Now, he plans outings with friends, smiles a whole lot more, and enjoys life’s little moments. He considers me his best friend instead of the typical annoying older sister. He has found that God has a plan even if it is an uphill climb.
I think we can all learn from my brother and his hardships. It’s not about smiling through the pain or rejoicing in trials but allowing God to take hold of your life. He has a beautiful plan for each of us, we just have to allow Him to lead us through it.