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 knew this would be the...

He knew this would be the last time our family would be with him.

Hospice, a unique nursing service that focuses on terminally ill patients, was called in. The medical staff focuses on the patience pain and symptoms while attending to their emotional and spiritual needs at the end of life.

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.  I was looking at bedding that might be comfortable for him when my hand touched a very soft, beautiful blanket.  I picked it up and held it close to my chest.  It was so quiet and comforting that I could imagine how it would keep him warm.

A few months earlier, I prayed with my brother as he accepted Christ as his Savior. Then, 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. Then, through his tears, he smiled and nodded his head.

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

A few weeks later, we received the call 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.

Recently I watched a family in our church say 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 visited each day to bid 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 that 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 how 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. But, 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 to say goodbye.

That is why it is important not to postpone the things that, deep down, you know you want to do or say:  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 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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