“Please don’t let my Daddy die” begged our 10-year-old nephew to the Doctor caring for my brother. Trace had contracted a cold after coming from Utah to California for Thanksgiving. None of us thought anything of it. It was a cold. He went home and progressively worsened (though none of us knew it). He was a single dad, and like many men, didn’t like going to the doctor. He thought he would be alright. Nelson, his son, could tell he was getting worse so he decided to stay home from school and take care of him. That was on Thursday; on Friday Nelson did go to school because Trace promised he would go to the doctor. The Doctor told him he must get to the hospital NOW. He wanted to call an ambulance to take him immediately but Trace had to make sure Nelson would be cared for before going anywhere. He called his former mother-in-law, who he had a great relationship with, and she not only took my brother to the hospital but also took Nelson home with her.
After taking some tests, they put my brother into a coma so that his body wouldn’t have to do any work except for getting well. That was the first part of December, 1992. He did not get any better instead he just grew worse. A year before any of this happened, he had been having severe pain in his legs. He went to a doctor who told him he had arthritis. The doctor was wrong. (It’s always wise to get a second opinion). What he really had was called Raynaud’s Disease which is very treatable if you know what you are dealing with. It is a rare disorder of the blood vessels, which causes poor circulation, and cold weather can exasperate it. My brother was a Pipe Fitter and worked in the snow and cold regularly. He woke up one morning to a deadened, black foot after being out in the cold so this was the beginning of the amputations. First they took off some toes, then they took off half of his foot. He would not heal. Soon after being admitted into the hospital, he contracted staph infection in his foot. My mom had to make the agonizing decision allowing them to amputate his leg right below the knee. We were told if they didn’t remove it, he would die. My brother never woke from his coma to find out that part of his leg had been removed.
December 26 at 6 A.M., we received the call to get to the hospital quick. After 3 weeks of life-support, tests, Trace’s lungs exploding, his kidneys failing and I could go on, my dear brother went home to be with the Lord. My mother was so broken, how do you lose a child and go on? Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around.
And precious Nelson, his world was rocked to say the least. We contacted his mother to inform her that my brother was gone. She was solely responsible for Nelson now. But she had chosen her career many years earlier . She still didn’t want to take the time to raise her son and so my husband and I gladly brought him home to California to become our son. But it wasn’t easy. He was not only grieving the death of his daddy but also dealing with the trauma of moving from his home, his neighborhood and school; and abandonment and rejection issues caused by his mom. She is who he wanted to live with, not us. He told himself that we made his mom allow us take him. Because he wanted to believe she was “the good guy”, we were easy to blame for why he wasn’t with her.
I home-schooled him that first year so that we could bond and he could really know he was important to us. It was exhausting however, and by the time my own kids got home from school, I had nothing left to give them. Our Nelson was so needy that even when I would escape for a few minutes to the bathroom, he would stand outside my door and knock. But today, I am so thankful I could home-school him. In my heart, he became my boy that year.
As I look back, I realize that Nelson already had a special place in my heart even while my brother was still alive. I remember the first time I saw him, I gasped with joy and just fell in love. And then for a few summers before my brother’s passing, Nelson would come to visit for a month or so in the summer and he was just part of the family. So I can see how the Lord had prepared all of us for him to become one of us. Our son was 14 and our daughter 5 when Nelson came. He was 10 so he filled that gap. God knew my brother would die young and that his son would need a home. He also knew that each of us need an eternal home so He sent His own Son to die young so that we could live with Him forever. I look forward to seeing both my brother and my Lord on that day………….