Friday, December 16, 2011

my brother's keeper

from twenty feet away i watched as doctors and nurses scrambled to save his life. a nurse jumped on the bed and did chest compressions. doctors administered medications over and over to bring him back. slowly, as if in a dream, a nurse tugged on my arm and told me to move away because i didn't need to see this. but i did. i needed to see it and i would not be budged. a miracle was about to happen....i just knew it. after what seemed like hours (when in all actuality it was only ten minutes or so) a miracle did happen. my brother slipped away from this life and ran headlong into the arms of God. that was three years ago today.

in the chaos of that moment, amidst the crying and the tears, i couldn't tear my eyes away from the people who had been desperately trying to save his life. it wasn't a scene from ER or grey's anatomy, where a handsome young doctor came to us and slowly lowered his mask to tell us that they did all they could. no. there was a full range of human emotion spilling out of the people who had just tried to save him. the doctor looked disgusted and suddenly tired, as if he had just went fifteen rounds in a heavy weight fight and lost at the end. one nurse that walked out looked like she was in shock and was not completely sure of what had just happened. i remember seeing one man who was expressionless, as if he was trying to shove down any form of emotion, because if he could do that, then everything would be okay. the other two nurse that i remember walked out with tears cascading from their eyes shaking their heads in disbelief and telling us over and over that they were so sorry. i was in shock at what i had just witnessed. and the only thing i could think to do was to walk to each one of those people and say, "thank you for doing what you could. thank you so much." i couldn't fathom how they were so emotionally invested in someone that they had known for less than two days. but i knew that i wanted to be like that.

and here i am three years that exact day. some would call that coincidence or fate, but i see it in a much different way. it's like God is looking down at me right now and saying, "remember all that you saw. remember all that you felt. remember through all of that, I sent people there who cared and who loved. in the midst of the hurt, the drama, and the pain, I was there. now, it's your turn". i don't know how i'll be used. i don't know who i'll touch. i don't even know where i'm going to work. what i do know is this: every time i sit down in a room and hold an old woman's hand, i think of jeremy. every time i change someone's bed or dressings, i think of jeremy. every time i look into the grief stricken eyes of a patient's loved ones, i think of jeremy.

today, i graduate. and i'll think of jeremy. in memory at least, i am my brother's keeper.


  1. John,
    this brought tears to my eyes. I have no doubt in my heart that you will be His light to so many on your new journey. So amazed and humbled to count you as a friend. I will be praying that you reveal Him in the good and the hard times.

  2. John...this is amazing. Thank you, son, for writing helps me so much through my grief today, to hear your words and to see your emotion. I am so proud of you! This day holds a memory that hurts so much, yet today, of all days, you graduate! God is always weaving His tapestry into our lives. I am glad I can trust Him completely to weave it in a way that honors and glorifies Him and is best for us. Love you so much!

  3. Son,
    You might not ever know the depth of my pride in you, or my love for you. I've tried to tell you, show you, but words and most actions fall short. I pray that as you begin this next chapter in your life, you will simply make yourself available, wait on God to give you a divine appointment, and then...just be yourself...(your doing flows from your being!)....armed now with the training to minister both physically & spiritually, God will use use you as a mighty warrior against disease and spiritual poverty.
    Go do it!


  4. Bro, just wanted to let you know you made me cry....Thank you for sharing that with us....Love you man. Bill G.

  5. John, what a significant day for so many reasons. Thank you for taking the time to share with us. You're going to be a great nurse and I look forward to hear about all that God is going to do through you in this profession. Wednesday was the first day that I lost a patient since my sister died and it was harder than I thought it would be. But you get through. You cry and pray and move forward stronger. Grief will help you be a much better nurse. What a privilege it is to be a nurse.

    Shane Kingery

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