The First Month…

I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about the death of my youngest brother, Ken. In fact, today is the one month anniversary of his passing on February 29th. I’m sure that the events of that morning, when I drove to Peoria, IL to assist Doug in making a decision about Ken’s care and treatment, were done as Doug and I were both in “alert” mode. We were trying to do what was in Ken’s best interest and it turned out that he couldn’t have lived with the damage that his heart and other internal organs had sustained throughout the years.

Nonetheless, it was a difficult morning for us as we sat with Ken and watched his vital signs. Ken was unresponsive but his mere presence put the three of us in the same place at the same time – and that has been rare throughout the years. Especially since the death of our mother back in 1998, I doubt that the three of us have been together more than a handful of times.

There have been many times that two of us have been together, but to have all three brothers together usually only seemed to happen when somebody was very ill – or dying – and that was once again the case this time. Only it was one of the three of us who was passing into eternity – that is still difficult for me to process…

Please understand that the last twenty years haven’t been easy for Ken. He has experienced many health issues and Doug and I, as his brothers, have tried to do everything possible to make his life as positive and joyful as possible. Sometimes that hasn’t been so easy but Doug and I have been there every step of the way. Being physically closer to Ken, the bulk of this effort has fallen on Doug and he has been kindhearted and responsive beyond belief.

Although both Doug and I thought that Ken may pass first, we rarely discussed this possibility. Yet, when the time came, I was still unprepared for the finality of the three of us no longer being able to be converse with one another or to share each other’s company in the same room.

Since his death, Doug and I have been busy dealing with all the details post mortem. We stopped the payments that he was receiving from various agencies, closed bank accounts, handled Ken’s final arrangements and, in general, readied his apartment to be returned to the landlord.

There were a few personal belongings that we removed – things that had sentimental value to one or the other of us. I found a Bible that I had given to Ken back in 2005 and a New Testament that Grandma had presented him on his 10th birthday on August 16, 1970. I never knew that he received a Bible from Grandma the way I had on my 10th birthday. I assume that somewhere Doug has one also – I will have to ask him.

Several belt buckles, rings, bookends and trinkets from our childhood were placed throughout his apartment. Doug and I did our best to save these things for our families as they get handed down to the next generation.

The farther I get from that day, the more I miss Ken. Not the person who had become ill and was beset with health issues – I missed my youngest brother from when we were all young and lived back in Beverly – before life started to get more complicated. Before the death of Auntie Lou, our maternal grandfather, grandmother, Dad and then our mother. I’ve thought quite a bit about those days.

And while I will undoubtedly miss Ken for quite a while, he is in a better place – for sure. As a believer, he is in heaven with God and was escorted there by angels, as we are told in the Bible. In fact, God has presented him his crown, which we are told is given to each believer as they enter the presence of God in heaven. Ken is no longer bound by his physical limitations or encumbered by his earthly body. These realities bring me joy…

In fact, most of the tangible reminders of his life on earth are gone. His former home, apartment, bank accounts, clothes and other personal belongings have been dealt with. We will remember him through our memories – dating all the way back to when he was born in August, 1960. In fact, I remember the day that Mom brought him home from the hospital…

But it is not about the things of this earth that are important. I am reminded of the words of Paul in his second letter to his protege, young Timothy. Paul tells us, as he is preparing to die, in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

My encouragement tonight is that God will reward our faith. We will each be greeted, in person, by the Lord in recognition of the faith that we had here on earth. My prayer is that we will all finish the race and fight the good fight. After all, God is waiting for each of us to enter His presence and present each of us with our own crown of righteousness. I am sure that Ken now has his… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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