The Lost Sibling

I thought I was done. I really did. I thought I had said everything that I was supposed to say, but then Monday night happened, and alas there is another section that must be written.

As I had said earlier, I had attended the Annual Worldwide Candlelight Memorial service which is held by Compassionate Friends Bereavement Group on the second Sunday of December at 7 PM throughout the world. It was my first attendance at this event.

I received the February E-Newsletter from the Boca Chapter, but I did not plan on attending any meetings. I read that Monday, February 6th was going to be a discussion on the topic of memories. I still did not want to go. I was going to be working on the East Boca booklet on Monday which would mean that after I finished up for the day around 5:30 PM, I would have to hang around Boca until the meeting started at 7:30 PM. Didn’t feel much like doing that. I had never been to an actual meeting in all these years.

The feeling I SHOULD go persisted. It nagged at me. I knew there was a reason why God wanted me to attend, but I JUST REALLY did not WANT to attend. “Two Broke Girls” the new comedy that my husband and I enjoyed was coming on at 8:30 PM, and I wanted to eat dinner and be on the couch by that time enjoying a bit of mindless entertainment.

When 5:30 PM arrived,I still had not changed my mind about wanting to just go home, but I have been following God for a long time now, and I just know in my spirit when He wants me to go somewhere. I had brought Gregory’s framed Homily and the Letter to Fr. Allen with me when I left home that morning. Maybe I was supposed to share them at the meeting. Whatever my “assignment” was, and I was sure there was one, I would find out at some point during the night.

When you raise your hand and say “Use Me” everyday, be prepared to be used. I raise my hand every morning, I want God to know that He could trust me to speak to whoever He wants me to speak with, to comfort whoever He wants me to comfort, to pray for whoever He wanted me to pray for. I know I could always trust Him to be there for me no matter what the circumstances. I didn’t want to miss what I called my “God Assignments.” I don’t want to get to heaven and hear of an important assignment that could have changed someone’s life that I ignored or blew off. This is just how I feel. God is always going to be faithful. I try to be faithful as well.

I found the church where the meeting was held. I found the room where the meeting was going to be held. Tables had been set up in two long rows connected by two short rows so it looked like an unbroken rectangle. There were plenty of chairs. The first couple I met had buried their 52 year old daughter who had cancer and had left behind three children. It was their first meeting, but they were not my assignment. I took a seat and put the plastic bag carrying Gregory’s homily and letter on the table. It took less than five minutes to know why I was there.

She was sitting at the other long table and quietly crying. I picked up and moved to the empty seat next to her. I said hello. She told me that her infant son had died at the age of four months. One of those unexplained SIDS deaths where a perfectly healthy infant is put to bed and in the morning is dead. No warning sign. No preparation. A happy home filled with the sounds of a newborn instantly changed into a home filled with gut wrenching tears and heartache. I knew the homily and letter had been brought for her. She read them both. After she was done I asked if we could go to the ladies room so I could pray for her. She said “yes.” I didn’t ask her religious affiliation. Whether she believed in the power of pray. Whether she prayed herself. Just offered to do the only thing I know in this world that can comfort the broken heart, pray.

She told me that she was 40 years old. She had three children from her first marriage, 21, 17 and 15. She told me that her new husband had never had a child and wanted one. It had been a year and a half since he baby had died. She told me that this past Friday would have been her baby’s second birthday. It seemed to her like it should have been the first. She was astonished that it had already been that long. Time is deceiving when you are dealing with grief and loss. Her husband had been handling the situation in his own way – mostly by pulling away. Her seventeen year old boy had been the most affected of her children. She showed me a picture on her cell phone of her older boy cuddling his little baby brother against his chest and smiling a smile he had know idea would be wiped off his face so cruelly.

I prayed for her to have God’s strength. For her to feel the loving arms of Jesus around her. For her husband and her to be drawn closer instead of being pulled apart. That all her children would feel Jesus healing love – especially her son. I prayed for peace. For healing. For a sense of purpose. For God to do a work in her son’s life.

The meeting was about to start so we went back into the Fellowship Hall. We took our seats. The speaker began speaking on the topic of memories. He had been coming with his wife and parents for the past three years. His son died at the age of 30 after an evening of just feeling “a little ill.” The meetings had helped. He spoke of the things he missed. The conversations. Watching sports together. The good times.

I held my new friend’s hand. She continued to gently cry. There wasn’t more that I could do but rub her back and hold her hand, and let her know that I was there for her. The gentleman who handled the first time attenders, who had the option of either joining the big group discussion or meeting with him in a separate area of the hall, asked if she wanted to go outside. I went with them.

The Brokenhearted Son

She talked more about her seventeen year old son. How he had went from being a straight A student to dropping out of high school and doing drugs. She had lost her baby to an unexplained cause. She was losing her son to grief he didn’t know how to handle. It was hard enough dealing with her own pain. She didn’t know what to do about his pain and his behavior.

She had said that on what would have been her child’s second birthday she had gotten flowers. It was from a girlfriend who had also buried an infant. She had hoped that they were from her husband. She needed him to hold her and be there for her. He retreated into himself. I am sure he felt partly to blame for the despair that his whole house was in. He wanted a child of his own. I am sure he did not want to see the pain his baby’s death was causing everyone. I am sure he wanted so much to take away the pain. To dry her tears. To hear his stepson laugh again.

The father explained that that was pretty much how it went in his own family for so long. He didn’t cry. His wife cried enough for the two of them. She sought Jesus. He sought solitude. The remaining older sibling had turned to drugs and had become a real big problem in the ten years since her younger sister had been killed in the car accident. They knew the drug problem was directly related to her sister’s death. But “why?” I asked. Well, the girl’s sister was in the car with her mom picking her up at a friend’s house when the fatal accident claimed her life. She had nothing to feel guilty about. The accident was not her fault. Apparently, her innermost being did not feel the same way. The three of us continued to talk.

He went back inside. We continued to talk. I prayed again for her. Wrapped my arms around her. Shared that I didn’t want to come tonight. Shared that the God of the universe heard her tears. Knew her pain. Knew her family was falling apart and sent me to this meeting to give her a Hug and Hope on His behalf. I gave her my phone number and told her to call me any time. We continued to hug and talk and cry. I told her that I would fight for her son. She didn’t know what that meant, but the prayer warriors reading this section will understand.

The bible says that the devil comes to steal and destroy. Her son needed my prayers until my new friend had the strength to say them herself. I didn’t realize how many siblings’ lives were shattered and destroyed by the loss of their brother or sister. Think about it. Mom cries a lot. The tears may subside, but the remaining siblings know that they can surface again at any time. No one wants to see their mother cry. Dad has his own grief to deal with. But that is hard to do when he is constantly surrounded by his wife’s grief. He wants to see her smile again. He is not sure he ever will.

The left behind brothers and sisters each must somehow deal with the heartbreaking absence of their sibling. Maybe they fought a lot and the sibling feels guilty. Maybe they were together all the time, and life just doesn’t feel the same. Home, which used to be a happy place – a haven from the outside world – has become a sad place. An empty chair. An empty room. It is a terrible burden on a child.

So I am asking you for your help. God is asking you for your help. When you pray each day, remember to pray that the mother’s whose tears fall like a river will have their tears wiped away and will receive strength and comfort. Remember to pray for the fathers that they will reach out to their wives instead of pulling away. That despite what the world says is acceptable behavior, that they will allow themselves to cry when they need to so they can heal.

Remember to pray for the siblings. That they will turn to Jesus and not drugs and alcohol and bad behavior. That they will have a hope. That God will send them friends who will love and pray for them. That God will restore them and guide them and sustain them and give them a vision for their future and help them create a legacy to honor their deceased brother or sister.

Pray for the women who have wanted so desperately to have a child and that prayer has never been answered. These women need the healing touch of God. Pray for God’s perfect divine plan for their lives.

What if I had gone home after work instead of to that meeting? I would have missed an important assignment. There was no place else in the world I wanted to be on Monday night than praying with my heartbroken new friend, but I had no way of knowing that at 5:30 PM.

When I got home, I watched the tape my husband had made of “Two Broke Girls.” It was cute and funny. But it didn’t change my life or anyone else’s. In the context of eternity, it was thirty minutes with no lasting value.

Ask God to use you. He needs you. There is a hurting world out there. I often describe God in the following terms. Imagine Him as the owner of a taxi cab company. He has fifty taxi cabs and has just received a hundred calls. What He needs is fifty more taxi cabs.

Be a taxi cab in God’s fleet!