I pulled into the hospital parking lot while it was still dark. Four a.m., when the halls were quiet, the lobby was empty, and only a skeleton staff manned the ward. That was how I preferred to see my older brother Marshall.
It felt as if there was no one around but just the two of us. Too early for visiting hours, but the nurses wouldn’t stop me. They knew Marshall’s time was short.
My brother was always the one who could make me laugh, cheer me up when I was sad. Now, at age 49, he was on a ventilator, drifting in and out of consciousness, suffering from multiple afflictions.
I took a deep breath as I strode across the lot to the hospital doors, wondering if this would be my last visit with my brother. No, God. I’m not ready.
For 41 days I’d headed straight to Marshall’s room without seeing or speaking to anyone. This morning, however, a man sat in the lobby. He gave me a look like he’d been waiting for me. The very air in the room seemed to push me toward the stranger. “Good morning, ma’am,” he said. “Have a blessed day.”
I nodded and moved past the man down the corridor. At Marshall’s bedside, the brief encounter sparked something in me. I said words I never thought I’d say to my brother. “Today is the day. Your angel is waiting in the lobby to escort you home.”
I couldn’t know why the stranger had been there, or where he had gone by the time I passed through the empty lobby on my way out. But when Marshall passed away that evening, I was finally ready to let him go. I knew my brother wasn’t making the journey to heaven alone.
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