A Final Christmas Gift

How do you pick a Christmas gift for someone who only has a few days or weeks to live? That's the dilemma I had when I got the news that my brother, Gerald, who was in stage four brain cancer, had one last request–to celebrate Christmas with all of his brothers and sisters, together.

How do you pick a Christmas gift for someone who only has a few days or weeks to live? That’s the dilemma I had when I got the news that my brother, Gerald, who was in stage four brain cancer, had one last request--to celebrate Christmas with all of his brothers and sisters, together. He talked my sister into taking...

He talked my sister into taking him to the mall and push him from store to store picking out Christmas gifts for each one of us.  This was going be the last time my family and I would have with my older brother who had been given this sad news.

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Hospice, a special nursing service that provides comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness has been diagnosed, was called in to help our family through this painful time.

As I walked around the mall I prayed for God to help me pick out a gift that would be appropriate for the end of my 40-year-old brother's life. As I was looking at bedding that might be comfortable for him, my hand touched a very soft, beautiful blanket.  I picked it up and held it close to my chest.  It was so soft and comforting that I could imagine how it would keep him warm when his body was chilled.

A few months earlier I prayed with my brother as he accepted Christ as his Savior. When I gave him his gift, I reminded him of the love and protection of God and asked him to imagine that the blanket was like the Holy Spirit that would comfort him just as the love of God would when the angels took him home.  For a moment we talked about heaven as though it was another home that we both were looking forward to. Through his tears, he smiled and nodded his head.

Then I knelt down in front of him and told him how much I loved him. I thanked him for being a good brother to me and for protecting me when I was little. After I assured him that we would see each other again, it was time for me to go.

We received the call a few weeks later that he had passed away holding the warm soft blanket in his arms. I was fortunate because I was able to tell my brother goodbye.

For the last few weeks, I have watched as a family in our church has been saying goodbye to one of their loved ones. After the diagnosis was confirmed, his wife took him home from the hospital and placed his bed in the brightest part of their home. Family and friends have visited each day to bid their farewell.

It is a sad and painful time when we have to say goodbye to those we love, but it is also good to have a chance to say goodbye.

My husband teases me in the mornings when I am too busy to kiss him goodbye. He will say, "You need to kiss me so I won't have a heart attack today." It's a corny joke, but it always gets my attention.

Our son-in-law says he is still getting used to the way we say goodbye to each other on the phone. We always end our calls with, "Love you, bye."

None of us have any idea of how long we have to live. Sadly, parents and families who sent their sons and daughters to war had to renew their hope each day that their loved ones would come home.

My daughter's neighbor is a Vietnam veteran who had to say goodbye to both of his sons when the war began. "I just told them I loved them and I was proud of them and then I had to let them go," he told our daughter.

Not everyone has the chance that I had with my brother to say goodbye or our church friends have had to say goodbye to their loved one.

That is why it is important not to postpone the things that, deep down, you know you want to do, like telling the people you love how much you care, visiting a good friend, taking time to laugh with someone, going fishing with your child or parent, writing a letter, or just patting someone on the back because they need to feel a touch.

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

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