I had just returned home that evening when my oldest brother called to give me the news of my sister’s sudden death, too!! What? I had literally just returned from my brother-in-law’s (Sharon’s husband’s) death and funeral. So, how can this be happening?
Sharon kept telling us that she would die first. But as we know our will is not always the same as God’s, and so when it was that Al became ill very suddenly and died before we even got to see him. He had multiple health complications, but they weren’t life-threatening until suddenly his body began to retain fluid—definitely a life-threatening condition. How can this be happening?
Getting to Minot, where they lived in North Dakota, takes many hours on the road. We kept in touch by phone and just before we got there, we heard he was getting better. Our spirits were buoyed.
So, after seeing Sharon for a few minutes at their assisted living apartment, we went to the hospital. It seemed Al was better but only one of us could actually go see him in his room, although our retired sister-in-law nurse had us on Instagram for a few minutes.
And then, he died at 6:30 the next morning.
Oh, no, how can this be happening?
Suddenly our concerns turned to Sharon. What will she do now because her dementia had accelerated since last I saw her and she was barely taking care of herself?
Family steps up in times like these.
All of my siblings and their families came to Al’s funeral, while a few of us were helping their son, Scott, take care of the many things that needed tending. Indeed, Sharon’s dementia made her brain foggy, so she forgot where her husband of 51 years was. In fact, they rarely went anywhere alone.
It was one of the hardest times we had—telling her that he had died. She said, “You mean my honey is gone?” My heart broke as did the tears of all of us.
After Al’s funeral, we all went home, not knowing what would happen to Sharon because she was now alone in her assisted-living apartment. With mixed emotions and thoughts, we set out for the long trip home.
I was barely there when I got the call from my brother that he had more bad news.
How could this be happening?
Mary Jane Berger, OSB