Maybe I can’t, but I got a pretty good sense. My brother-in-law, the rock of Gibraltar, a pillar of faith and an example of true courage, learned yesterday he has a terminal disease.
As we gathered together, family and friends, one could only be amazed at his strength and conviction. Hugh has been, is today, and always will be a God-fearing man. He maintains deep convictions valuing life. He understands the blessings he has received while living here on earth. He knows with certainty that there is a purpose to his life path.
There were special times as we talked as a group; the spirit of love attended us. Hugh suggested that if we all put our personal trials in the middle of the room, we would take ours back. Hugh then confirmed he would gladly take him, perhaps so others wouldn’t have to.
I personally believe he chose his path long ago, knowing perhaps others might not have to or that those of us who would know him could gain strength as witnesses of his endurance, patience, and devotion. Hugh’s example extends as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and a friend. After we shared time together, shed tears of gratitude, and felt the fear of the unknown; Hugh arose to hug each of us.
It was at this time I witnessed a miracle. I saw and felt something I will never forget. There are times in my life I have felt something similar to what I felt deep inside. Times I have not and may never forget. These have come in witnessing the birth of my children, standing at my father’s bedside as he passed, watching the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, standing at Martins Cove, or simply participating in feeling a mother’s love.
The miracle that played out before my eyes was Hugh, a man of large stature, hugging his youngest son Connor (the best-looking kid in middle school), who is thirteen years old. The two embraced as Connor approached his dad, nearly out of tears. Hugh, standing just over six feet tall, and Connor, about five foot six, then participated together in an embrace that was as if they were two eternal beings meeting in mortality.
As Hugh’s body engulfed his son, Connor placed his head on his father’s chest. Hugh’s heart penetrated his son’s spirit as he placed his hand on the back of his head. Hugh then rested his chin and cheek on Connor, stating, “My, you certainly have grown up, my son.”
I felt as if their mortality lifted for a moment as they participated in an embrace that will remain part of their lives forever. They held each other for some time, not wanting the feeling to end long enough to penetrate a lifetime. I knew then and will never forget that this man, my brother-in-law, Connor’s father, will never leave his side. He will stand as his guardian, as he has forever!
The feeling they must have felt could only be described as phenomenal; just being in the room witnessing touched me as it did. My knowledge was pure, my experience was real, and for a moment, “I could only imagine” knowing their connection was necessary and eternal.