God Moves in Mysterious Ways
God moves in mysterious ways and I have the wonderful honor of sharing some of His ways with you. Today’s blog is dedicated to my late brother, Joseph Anthony Duby. Ten years ago today, he took his last breath on his 40th birthday.
It had been a long day, and we had celebrated as much as we could, given the circumstances. After all, he lay lifeless, barely holding on, eyes in a fixed stare.
I brought him the best roses I could find as a birthday bouquet from the local grocer. The cost wasn’t a factor because I knew they would be the last flowers he would enjoy.
Time was of the essence that morning, not knowing how much longer he would be there. Things had been progressing as expected over the last several days, and I knew we were very close to the end. How close, only the Lord knew.
So with beautiful roses in hand, I entered his room to find the same stare. Setting the roses in front of his gaze, I watched for any sign of acknowledgment. There was none, but that was expected.
A few hours later, several staff along with family gathered and sang happy birthday to Joe for the last time.
Will he make it
His desire ever since learning of the cancer was to make it to his 40th birthday. That was at least eight months prior. But today, here we stood to celebrate in a way none of us imagined. After all, it isn’t every day you’re standing in a hospice room celebrating a birthday, but today we had the unique opportunity to do precisely that, and we did it with smiles on our faces.
Later that evening, he breathed his last breath.
When I look back, one of the things I am always reminded of was the blessings during those difficult months. I was a big-time journaler back then, journaling every day. As I read back over my notes of those days, I saw 56 good things happen – blessings that had I not recorded, I might have missed.
Blessings amid Heartache
56 Good Things – 1 Bad Thing
Here’s a list of all the beautiful things God did during this traumatic situation:
- Brought Joe and me back together
- I was able to witness to him
- Allowed me to play the role of health surrogate which helped me learn what mom went through with my dad
- Allowed mom to take a break from it all
- Mom went to counseling to deal with all the pain in her life
- I was able to set boundaries with them
- Brought my other brother back into my life
- My other brother and his ex-wife are talking again, together with the kids
- My brother being a father to his kids again
- Mom and my ex-sister-in-law apologizing to each other after ten years
- All of us, except Joe enjoying dinner together for the first time in ten years
- Meeting Joe’s caseworker of eighteen years who turned out to be a very loving and compassionate, straight, black man who genuinely saw Joe like a son
- Meeting Joe’s friend, who I got a chance to speak to about his relationship with God. He also has been there for Joe several times.
- The wonderful staff at the hospice facility which was kind and compassionate
- My friends, church family, and family members praying for us diligently for the past year
- The meeting we had at the nursing home that opened their eyes to patient neglect
- All the kind things said about Joe and the kind things he did. I didn’t know so many people thought well of Joe and liked him – it was comforting to me.
- Mom witnessing my tenderness and compassion with Joe and him relating to me in return
- Me getting to witness to my friend who still lived in West Palm Beach and being able to attend church with her while I was in town
- Another local lifelong friend and I got to spend time together talking about all that God has done in our lives. When we first met, we had no interest in what God could do. All that has changed for both of us, and we didn’t realize it till we met up again
- Having the chance to pray for the other sick and dying which led to other opportunities to bring comfort to someone there at the hospice facility
- God giving me the strength and abilities to get through all this
- Work was so supportive during these difficult times
- My ladies Bible study praying for me and supporting me
- Allowing a new friendship to grow through all this with my new medical friend and being able to testify to her through all this to help us both grow
- Having a medical friend in my life at this specific time and being able to draw on her medical advice regarding Joe and my health issues. Being able to talk to her in the middle of the night
- God spoke to me back in June when I was trying to decide on doing my surgery. He spoke to me and told me to do it now because September would be the month for Joe. O God – you spoke to me, your child whom you feel is worthy.
- Joe’s wish came true. He made it to his 40th birthday, even past the time he was born. Who else could ordain?
- The witnessing of love we showed the staff at hospice by keeping vigil at Joe’s bedside
- The film crew who came in and filmed Joe receiving final communion so they could show the film in Japan. The Word of God will be shown in Japan through Joe’s illness. A hospice facility will open in Japan.
- The single rose that stayed alive in a vase at work and was being watched by my office for two-plus weeks and what it spoke to some unbelievers and doubters; the new growth Sending my friend Ray to help get cigs
- Being able to mend some fences with my mother
- Allowing Joe and mom to be together in the end
- The strengthening of my mother, having her go through this, and being there for Joe and getting the quality time with him before he died.
- The staff and friends he made at the various nursing homes
- The compassionate weekend manager who happened to be working Labor Day weekend and all she helped us resolve
- Keeping all of us healthy to get through it
- The care my daughter received from my friends during this time
- The honor I received being chosen to officiate and the lessons it will bring from his funeral service
- The forum, Facebook, which allowed me to share what God has been doing. The dignity I was able to show Joe
- Allowing me to get to West Palm Beach and back several times in my old car and providing me with a free place to stay
- Small ways this has brought the family back together
- Joe confirmed his belief in Jesus to Chaplain Nino. Me being able to witness to him, read to him, and sing to him about Jesus in those final days. We got some real tender moments together
- Tender moments with Joe in those last six days of his life; him holding my hand and kissing it, telling each other we loved each other, and us staring at each other in loving sibling ways; me reminiscing with him about when we were little and how he was a pain in my butt. Moments that will always remain in my heart
- God spared me the pain of watching Joe’s final moments
- Being able to celebrate his 40th The first birthday, I recall spending with him in over ten years, if not twenty. Watching all the love poured out to him on that day by numerous people.
- Having been able to wake him up at 12:01 am that morning and be the first person to wish him a happy birthday and tell him he made it.
- Having met and talked with Chaplain Nino and him comforting me about Joe’s situation and his assurance’s Joe was ready to go spiritually speaking
- The cremation guy who came to get Joe was very compassionate to my mother and me
- For my stepdad who was with us and who took care of my mom and loves her
- For all who have reached out to me in love during these times. I’m so grateful for them
- For my wonderful, loving daughter, whose smile yesterday when she saw me was worth it all. I’m so blessed to have her for a daughter
- Getting a chance to apologize to some folks for my past mistakes
- Joe received a Bible and loved it. Him seeing his cousin and her husband
- God has worked all those things for my good through a dying young man
- To God, be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
56 Good things – 1 Bad thing
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:12
Through this process, I look back, and I can see that God was working all through this horrible situation, but none as prevalent as in the last several weeks and months. I have no doubts God took a horrible, painful disease in my brother and brought many good things out of it. For all those and the role I got to play, I am eternally grateful.