Author’s note: these stories are fully based on true events on the day they actually happened. Yes, we are grieving, but my brother is in such a better place. He’s running and jumping and shouting praise in Heaven.
“The best thing you can do for your mother right now is to pray for wisdom,” Grandma says. “We don’t know what’s going on with TJ. Only God knows. Don’t lose hope, Trinity. He’s got this.”
I can sense the urgency in my grandmother’s eyes. Her blue sternness pierces into me like a double-edged sword.
“But grandma… I don’t want my brother to die!”
“Trust me, Trinity, none of us want him to die.” A solemn, sad sigh slips from her lips. “But we all must die eventually, some sooner than others. Only the Lord knows the day and the hour.”
She wraps her arms around me as I melt into her embrace.
She stands quietly leaving me and my thoughts.
“Anything to help, the poor boy,” she says as she turns the corner.
I feel like I could choke. TJ’s condition is worsening day by day. He sleeps nearly all the time now.
As I tiptoe up to his door, I hear him sputtering and coughing, trying to catch a simple breath. He wheezes in his sleep, groaning frequently.
Poor boy indeed, I think.
Just then, Mom comes into the living room, fresh tears lining her weary eyes. I run up and hug her exhausted body, sobbing into her shirt. Mom rests her head on top of mine.
Silence thickens the bond between us. At last, I glance up at her crystal eyes.
“I…I love you…M-Mom.”
“I love you too.”
“So… y-you’re sure that… there’s n-nothing we can do?”
A faint and tired smile spreads on her lips.
“Well, Trinity, even when times are the most horrible, the most toughest, and the most darkest of times, there’s always one thing we can do. We can pray. God hears us all the time. And you’re never out of his sight. C’mon, let’s pray now. How about you start us off?”
“O-Okay, M-Mom. Dear, G-God, I pray for b-brother and that you w-would heal him and m-make him well again. Please… please give us your w-wisdom to know what to do. In J-Jesus’ name I pray, A-Amen.”
Mom and I sniffle as she starts her prayer.
“Heavenly Father, I just want to thank you for giving us the blessing of TJ for all these years. Thank you that you have provided for him at his weakest, and thank you for blessing us beyond all measure. Your will be done, Lord. Help us to have strength to face the coming days that you hold in your hand. Thank you that you have a plan, God, and a good one, too. In Jesus’s name, Amen.”
I stand in awe of her prayer of gratitude. I hug her tightly, fresh tears falling on her shirt.
It is moving day. A perfectly good distraction from everything about TJ. I sigh as I get into my dad’s car. We drive to the storage unit where the U-Haul truck awaits. My mindset shifts over to boxes and organizing them. I smile faintly, remembering how similar to Tetris it is. Hours drift by as the truck slowly fills up.
Suddenly, my grandpa’s car pulls into view. He got out and calls us over.
We come over, puzzled.
“You need to go home,” he says. “You need to go home.”
Concern instantly rushes to mind as I grab my stuff.
It’s brother, isn’t it?
Grandpa whispers something to dad as we walk toward his car.
It’s a silent, agonizing ride home. Tears of worry escape down my cheeks. I begin to sniffle uncontrollably, trying to stifle a breath. About 5 minutes later, I glance over at dad. I wish I hadn't. He is sobbing and wiping his nose and eyes on his sleeve.
This confirms everything I am trying to suppress. My dad never cries.
It’s definitely brother. Oh God, please no…
As we pull up to the house, my heart shatters in a million pieces. There is a paramedic truck and a sheriff’s car in front of my grandparents’ house. I sob harder as I leave my stuff and run into the house. Grandma’s face is red and puffy from crying. Two strange men stand in the dining room.
“Are you sure you want to go in there?”
But I could barely hear my grandma. My mind is racing with thoughts about Brother.
I dash into the room where he had been sleeping.
At that very moment, it feels as if someone just tore my heart out and wrung it clean when I saw him. His lifeless, pale body lay clumsily in the bed. Every mental barrier breaks down and the floodgates burst open inside me. I run back out and straight into my mother’s arms.
“I… d-didn’t k-know, I-I d-didn’t k-know!” Every ounce of strength in me breaks. The next 10 minutes are a blur of tears, shrieking, and rapid breathing.
“It’s too freakin’ peaceful out here.” she says, tears welling in her eyes.
He hugged her tighter.
“I know. There’s not even any crickets in the grass or cars along the highway. It’s perfect.”
“No, Mike. It’s not perfect. I don't know how you can be so positive.”
He chuckled slightly.
“Perhaps, I have a gift.”
A breeze drifts by, taking ages to cross the yard.
They sit there, both at a loss of words. There seems to be little to no comfort from the deep pain.
Finally, she softly speaks.
“I think the stars are trying to mock me, Tim. They’re twinkling and spinning rapidly in my mind. No two stars seem able to sit still!”
“You know, they say that everything moves at the pace of your mind,” he says, trying to fill the deep gap of silence.
“That’s stupid. No one says that.”
“Well I said it. Does that make me stupid?”
“No! Ugh! Just leave me alone! I can’t cope with my brother’s death with you sitting there, trying to make stupid claims!” She fiercely turns her back to him.
“Hey, hey, I'm sorry. I should have known better.” He pauses, his gaze searching upward. “But just think, he’s in a better place now. He doesn’t have to live in this broken world anymore. And I know he’s still watching over you now, along with dozens of other angels. They’re as countless as the stars.”
With fresh tears staining her shirt, her head lifts a fraction upward.
“T-there’s t-too m-many. I-It’s t-too m-much.” She leaned into him, crying and gasping.
“I know. Trust me, I know.”
They cling to each other for a while, trying to count the countless stars and all the angels that go with them.
P.S, this will be the last story I’ll be posting (on Reedsy) for now. I really am leaving this time. Goodbye, y’all. God’s got this <3