Death from AIDS

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Death from AIDS
Experiencing death from AIDS can be hard, especially from the family who is looking on. Consider this real-life story from Brenda who knows death from AIDS all too well.

Death from AIDS - Man Dying with AIDS has Hope for Eternity
By Brenda Blakely

The call came early in the morning. “If you want to see your brother alive you better get here.” Right after noon we were able to “roll out” driving hard to cover the 700 or so miles between my home and the hospital bed where he laid. My task was clear, make sure he knows Jesus as his Savior. I asked Lord, “Please don’t take him until I know that he knows You.”

My sister had said my brother Bert was hospitalized and they didn’t expect him to live but a few days. We arrived late in the night expecting to be able to go to the hospital and see him.

However the decision to allow us to bend the rules in this life and death occasion had been rescinded. We were told to get a night’s sleep and come to the hospital during the morning visiting hours. As I prayed, God’s still quiet voice spoke peace, it was ok; rest and he will still be there.

Finally my turn came to go into his intensive care room. I had no real expectations except that God was going to allow me to speak to him.

The man I saw lying there connected to tubes and all kinds of medical equipment was the brother I had prayed for as a little child. He looked so uncomfortable; the oxygen mask hindered his being able to talk much. Word became valuable, their scarcity made each one precious. “I love you. . .I love you.”

I had to ask, “Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” He spoke the words I had prayed to hear, “Yes.”

Discussions with family and the inevitable talks with the doctor jerked us into a drama that I felt could hardly be real. Bert was dying of AIDS. A long story was about to unfold but it had to be put aside for an even more important agenda. We had to give Bert the best last moment on earth with his family that we could and let him know he was loved.

They moved him to a hospice bed just before lunch. When we returned from lunch he was moved and settled. The nurses said he had opened his eyes to look outside for a moment. God’s creation was at its peak of beauty -- flowers blooming, the azure blue sky so soft and beautiful. As he lay on the bed gasping for breath we tried to make it like a family gathering. We laughed and shared memories and stories taking time to remember the good times that had blessed us. The pastor came and we prayed holding Bert’s hands to include him in the circle.

Bert’s boss came by to visit and as he began to leave he looked at Bert and said, “You know Jesus don’t you Bert?” Bert’s slight nod of the head and slight smile told the story. This man had given Bert the greatest gift of all; we hoped to learn the rest of the story later.

There was no one by his bedside for a moment and I didn’t want him to go through this alone so I stepped up next to his bedside. I noticed Bert stirring and struggling to come to the surface of his deep, drug-induced sleep. His eyelids barely cracked to reveal the hurting mirror of his soul beneath them, words surfaced on his lips, a weak breath carried them to my ears, “Help me.”

As he settled back into his rest, my heart cried quiet sobs covered my helplessness. Oh son, there is nothing I can do now. If only you had cried out for help sooner.

When the family was finally able to leave the hospital that night, Mother kept saying how hard it was to leave his body lying on the hospice bed even though we knew he was no longer there. It was over, he was gone. No more chances to say I love you, no more chances to share his grief and fear at having the dread disease.

The church was filled with people whose lives Bert had touched. People to whom Bert had listened when they shared their pain and maybe some with whom Bert had shared his pain. Yet, Bert had been unable to share his pain with his family.

People at the service spoke of a man who loved life, brought those special surprise moments to life for others and loved to share. Bert had left this earth so peacefully and I believe had such joy at being free of the body that had been destroyed by AIDS.

But those of us who are left behind today have so much to work through.

Occasionally I cry gut-wrenching sobs from the depths of my soul. A friend of Bert’s has told me that Bert really wanted to call and tell me but just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

How would I have responded? Bert had sought solace for the pain in his life in the wrong places and carried the results of that encounter to his deathbed. God had allowed the truth to be brought to him, quickened him to accept it and strengthened him to make the turn from his old life to the new life God had created him to live. Would I have recognized this when confronted with the reality of his life situation?

I have worked many years in ministry with other people in crisis but this was too close to home. This time it was my family; my brother, the one I had prayed for who had lived with us for long stretches of time. The one my daughter called her Brouncle (brother-uncle). The one who cared about other people and went into action when someone had a need, who took care of wounded animals, loved pretty things, and collected vintage toys often to be given to needy kids. He celebrated Christmas any day of the year and the one with whom I had shared experiences and memories.

I can still hear his words, “Help me” coming from his deathbed. But the only thing I can do now is stand on whatever platform God gives me and repeat the truth. God is still available to help and will forgive and heal the vilest sin.

There is hope.

Jesus has given us the commission, Bert’s boss accepted. He took the time in a busy work world to notice someone who needed Jesus and gave my brother the greatest gift of all -- hope for eternity. Has God put someone in your pathway who needs to know the Savior? Will you accept the commission? It can make all the difference in a life.

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