This morning (9/21/20) I lost my job. I knew for a couple months I was going to, but I just didn’t know exactly what date I would be fired.
Folks on the outside looking in may not realize how important my job was to me. I never expressed it, but it was the toughest and most rewarding job I have ever had.
Growing up in the 70s/80s as a sibling of hemophilia, nearly every day was an emergency. My first memory I can recall of my job was when I was 3. Chubs and I were in the bathroom together. He fell back and hit the hot water heater. My job was to grab towels and apply pressure to the wound. Our only hope was getting him to the hospital to receive his Factor IX in time before he bled to death. Many nights were spent worrying if my two brothers would make it through the night. But my mom never lost her faith.
I never panicked during any of the bleeds growing up in my house. It was my norm. Our norm was playing tag football, while others played tackle. It never deterred us. Jim seemed to always have a broken arm. His position was quarterback. I remember him clotheslining a guy one time because he said something inappropriate to me. Moma never kept my brothers from being normal; they knew their limitations.
Growing up with two older brothers, it was do or die. I would hang tough with the boys. Actually, I was probably the meanest on the team. I would go fight anyone who tried to go after Jim or Chubs.
My brothers were so resilient to everything. They hurt, but they never showed defeat. On February 10, 2008, I lost one of my two employees. Chubs passed from a brain aneurysm. I couldn’t grab a towel to apply to his brain to stop the bleeding. I couldn’t help him. I had to let him go. The death came pretty fast.
When Jim’s official diagnosis of his throat cancer came in February 2019, my immediate thought was how are we going to fix this. Where do I need to apply the towels? Jim undertook 37 consecutive radiation treatments which burned him to a crisp. He could no longer eat, sing, and his voice box was a little strained.
Jim and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but one thing we did have was our sibling bond. We share 100% DNA. There is no closer bond in family than that of a sibling. I watched through every appointment, every scan, ever follow-up how Jim never gave up. He never wanted to appear as a defeatist.
On July 15 this year, day before my birthday, he accepted to enter hospice. He was given 3-6 months, however, that was for a normal person. Jim being a hemophiliac is not normal. Only God knew his last day.
Jim never complained. I could barely get him to tell me when something was wrong. His wife and my niece both said he didn’t want to worry his baby sister. I always wanted to fix him, wanted to protect him. As he struggled with his balance while the cancer moved into his brain I wanted to carry him. As the cancer blob moved around his neck, I wanted to take away the pain.
When Jim realized the cancer was moving into his brain, he knew it was inevitable. There were mornings I woke up to a surprise text.
God was telling me my job is done. But I don’t want it to be over. I have always taken care of my brothers and now I no longer can. They are flying high with perfect bodies now. There is reassurance in knowing Moma now has her two boys with her.
As the cancer was eating away at his brain, the pain was evident. It took away his smile, but I know his heart was genuine. I knew about 18 hours before he was not long for his journey on earth. I massaged his back. Held his hand. Wiped his face. As I got up to leave, he said, “I love you, baby girl.” God gave me what I needed for my last moment with him.
Jim is now cancer free. His death has shocked me to the core, more than I imagined it to feel. Everyone around the world can easily admit how horrific 2020 has been, but I do believe there is a blessing. Jim’s cancer brought us back together this year. All of our anger was forgiven and freed. We only treasured the moments we had left. Every moment is now a memory.
My role as the baby sister is over. My role as grabbing towels to hold pressure is no longer needed. I sit here and wonder what is my role now without my older brothers.
As my sweet daddy said when I told him in July that Jim only had 3-6 months, “It’s just you, me, and Jesus.” Our core family is missing. As I look at the picture below, the only ones left are the anchors on both ends. Only the youngest and oldest remain. Until God calls me Home, I’ll bury deep in my roots and cherish the time I still have with my sweet daddy because I know he needs now more than ever.