Ten years ago I got a phone call from my sister that our cousin, Bryan, was very sick and in the hospital. He was eighteen years old with no previous health problems so I didn’t make too much of it initially. I followed up a little while later with a phone call to my mother and as the details started to accumulate, my concern started to grow. Even as medical facts were communicated, I remember a basic belief that he would be alright once the doctors were able to work with him. I remember, though, asking my mother if I should think about flying in and she told me that “would be a good idea.” That’s when it really hit me that this was a life and death situation.
Over the next twelve hours of arranging a flight, reports continued to get worse. The doctors had estimated Bryan’s chances at 10%. By the time that my flight took off, he was gone.
Bryan had been locked up in a Texas Corrections “Boot Camp” facility on a six month sentence. He had requested this facility as he was looking to get some things in his life and behavior turned around. He had been in and out of trouble as a teenager but was openly talking about making the turn into manhood.
Things were changing; he was changing. He was optimistic and increasingly responsible, recognizing that change was needed in practically all aspects of his life down to the way he dressed. He was considering moving out-of-state to eliminate some of the temptations that come with unhealthy relationships and there had been some discussion of him coming to live with me for a while. He publicly stepped forward in a declaration of faith just weeks before he died and declared his Salvation.
A cold turned to the flu which turned to pneumonia and despite requests for medical treatment, it was denied. There was a militaristic nurse at the facility that implemented a policy delaying medical treatment. There was ridicule and abuse with accusations of faking even as Bryan had deteriorated to the point that he was coughing up blood. Ultimately, there were criminal charges pressed and a conviction obtained against the nurse and a substantial lawsuit won against the privately run facility.
As I reflected on the ten-year anniversary of Bryan’s death, I wept. Slowly, at first, but with increasing grief. In part, out of sadness for his mother and the tragedy of a life cut short needlessly. In part, also, in recognition for the transformation in my own life that came as a result of the loss of Bryan’s life. After the funeral, I came home and started to question life and search for purpose. As a result of that seeking, I started to find both Life and Purpose. Everything started to change for me after years of indifference and arrogance.
Life was being born of death . . . the destructive plans of evil were being turned into Victory for Righteousness. Instead of hurt and anger, I was experiencing Forgiveness and Healing for the first time in my life.