Holding on

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People ask how we are doing, and my first thought, is ‘holding on.’ We are holding on to each other in loving embrace, holding on to every word Jan utters, holding on to his facial expressions and body language, holding on to memories, faith and hope.

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Jan seemed to decline more drastically today than he has other days. As his head hurt more, with Trisha’s guidance, I gave him a higher dose of morphine. Danny and Steffan had to take all his weight when we were getting him back to bed. He ate nothing at all and is so weak with garbled speech.  Bernadine made a stack of sandwiches and took them around asking if anyone wanted one, and he raised his eyebrows and mumbled, ‘me.’ I smiled at him and took one of the sandwiches, and broke a small piece of cheese from it and placed it in his mouth. He did exactly what I knew he would do, he closed his mouth and fell asleep. After a few minutes Bernadine and I had to make a side sweep with a finger like we did with our creatures when they were small, to get the mushy cheese out.

At one point Jan had my hand in both of his. He was quite lethargic, and I watched as he very very slowly raised my hand to his lips, and kissed my fingers so sweetly, then lowered my hand gently back down again. I will never ever forget that moment.


Later, Mommy, Bernadine and I sat together, all of us holding Jans hands, and Teddy the dog came to join us.


Some of the random things that Jan has said today, were, ‘that trailer needs a hitch.’  ‘He should have paid more for that car.’  ‘These people are going to have to find sitting seats.’ ‘My car is faster.’ ‘Grab the cat.’  He’s so adorable.

The part of today that has been so difficult for me, was that till now Jan and I have made eye contact, looked deep into each others souls as we always have, and completely understood without words being uttered. This evening his eyes are glassed over and he no longer looks at me, but passed me somehow. I still see deep inside him and know his needs, and I feel his unconditional love for me, but that eye contact I am used to is not there for the first time in my life.

I choose to hold on to all that is good and positive, in fact today as I sat with Jan I thought back to when out last argument was, and I honestly couldn’t remember. It must have been back in Africa when we were still little. Jan and I never argued much at all, we were always too busy playing and getting up to mischief. When we did fight it was with fists or we’d do something like, instead of getting mad at each other we’d see who could punch the brick wall the hardest and get the bloodiest knuckles without stopping.

We must all cast aside the weight and darkness that holding on to grudges, regrets and sorrow brings, and allow ourselves to hold on to only that which uplifts, leaving us and those around us with a feeling of peace. It’s how it should be.

Tomorrow is a new day, and who knows what it holds. One thing I know for sure, is that it will involve copious amounts of love. Until then, I will be waking every 4 hours to medicate my dearest brother, and continue to hold his hand through this journey.


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