Perspectives on Disability and Pre-Earth Life
My brother has been dead for seven years today.
I still remember it all--not as if it were yesterday, thankfully. I think his whole passing was too surreal to ever remember it THAT clearly in the long run. But I still remember.
Two weeks before his death, my mom called me in a frenzy. She was crying and spluttering. She had found a blister or a sore on his leg, and she said: this is going to kill him.
And I remember scoffing and just saying, "Look, Mom, cancer didn't kill him, having a seizure every five minutes for his entire life didn't kill him, I'm pretty sure a sore on his leg isn't going to kill him, and also, even if it did, we've just been praying for him to die for the past five years so--that would be great."
I was not very sensitive! Ha! But it was all true!
My brother was severely and multiply disabled--he had an "undiagnosed chronic degenerative inborn error of metabolism." But he had seizures all day long every day even on massive doses of Tegretol and Neurontin, and he couldn't talk or eat, he had a G-tube, he had cancer. He just had every problem.
Five years before his death, his daycare had accidentally broken his leg, and medical error in the process of treating the injury had left him unable to walk and in extreme pain from that point on. Taking care of him had become even more stressful and intense and physically and emotionally demanding than ever before, and he became in so much pain that all he did was whimper around the clock. So yes, we prayed for him to die, and I don't feel bad about that. For five years I prayed for his swift passing, and for five years I was disappointed.
When the day finally arrived--August 3, 2013--I remember showing up at my parents' house to help with him, and feeling so strange.
I went up to my parents' library to pray. I remember wondering: if a person is going to die on a certain day, would you know it in the morning?
Will he die today?
A nurse came from hospice to give him a refill on about $4k of medications. I remember saying something to her like, "Uh, I think you should hold off on that, because I think he's actually going to die any minute now."
And she was like, "Oh, we've always thought that about James. I'm sure he'll be fine just like always."
But he was dead not four hours later, and she had to come back and pour four thousand dollars' worth of medication into a diaper and throw it in the trash.
But before that, I remember after she left, feeling suddenly very strongly that I needed to put on Oklahoma!, the musical, which was my brother's favorite movie.
While it was on, I sat with him, and alternately went back to the library to cry and pray.
And when they sang the final "OklahooooMA!" of the show, I remember looking at him, and he was alive, so I turned around to put on The King and I, and when I faced him again, he was dead.
It was obvious immediately. Death is nothing like it seems on TV.
His face had gone from flesh-color to grey. Instantly. He didn't look asleep: he just looked dead.
My mom was there. We looked at each other and I tried to get my dad but I couldn't form the words and he said something like, "What is wrong with you?" before following me to my brother's bedside and realizing that what I couldn't say was: HE'S DEAD! HE'S DEAD!
I turned off the TV.
We were all in shock--we had been preparing for this moment for over 26 years--and I was the one who grabbed the stethoscope and held it to my brother's chest.
There was no sound.
Just emptiness and that knowledge of: he's done it. He did it. He's gone.
We all cried. For me it was overwhelm and shock more than grief. Some of my earliest memories are of planning his funeral. We always knew he was going to pass "soon,"--we just hadn't realized how long "soon" could be. I had grieved many years prior to his passing.
We had just placed an order for Chipotle for dinner a few minutes before he passed. I remember we all sat there and thought: is it okay to eat Chipotle for dinner when your loved one dies?
And then we thought: well, still gotta eat.
So my husband went and got the food while my parents made the phone calls and I started throwing away every medical item I could find. I remember going straight to the kitchen and pulling out about a hundred medicine cups, and throwing away all but two. I figured, normal people have two of these, not two hundred. And I threw them away and then got started on the syringes.
Our kitchen drawers were much emptier when my husband returned with the food.
We all sat there at the kitchen table, eating our food, with my brother's body in the next room. I could see it, I could see his hair poking up from the hospital bed in the living room. And the TV was off--had we ever had a meal EVER in my life where the TV was off? All my brother could do was watch TV so it was on all the time. Was that our first meal in silence?
It turns out that Saturday is a very dumb day to die, if you've got any choices about it, because everyone in charge of dealing with your death is trying to enjoy their Saturday. People don't exactly treat it like a Wednesday, if you know what I mean. So it took some time for the mortuary sorts to show up. He'd been dead for several hours at that point. I remember going out to the street and watching them cart his body away.
And then what? What do you do when the person your whole life has rotated around for YOUR entire life is--dead?
The funeral was to take place in Utah, but we lived in Maryland and I was 38 weeks pregnant with my second child. So I stayed home while everyone else went, since I was not safe to fly.
As soon as my parents were gone, I got to work deep cleaning my brother's room.
Ah! The clothes! The sheets!
The medical equipment EVERYWHERE!
I went through all his clothes--tossing dozens of shirts and sweatpants that surely no other soul would ever want.
I deep-cleaned the blinds that had never been opened in his room, wiping away probably thirteen years of dust in a single go.
(Who has time to clean the blinds when you have to care for someone with so many around-the-clock NEEDS?)
I remember sitting down, so pregnant, in piles of trash and the evidence of my brother's tragic life, and suddenly feeling him there--next to me--six feet tall and STRONG.
I remember being stunned. In life he was about my size, maybe 5'5 at his time of death at the age of 27, and so to feel him so BIG and STRONG was stunning. But there was no doubt it was him. I would know that energy anywhere. (This was before my third eye woke up.)
He didn't say anything specifically, but it was like he transmitted to my heart this knowledge that he was fine, his spirit was big and strong, he was busy and doing important things. I didn't get the sense that he was "HAPPY," but more that he was content, and that he was at peace and that he was grateful to me for serving him and our parents in this way of cleaning out his room. Ah! Just writing it out makes me cry. I was grateful I did it, too. He was grateful I was tossing out his stuff. He didn't need it anymore. He didn't want me to feel guilty about it.
So I was glad he stopped by to say hi and to say thank you.
Now that I can see spirits much more clearly, I see my brother semi-often. Not much lately. But when the family gets together, a lot of times I'll see him hanging out in the corner, or next to this person or that person.
Maybe a year or two after he died, after I had developed my Sight, my parents and I and my kids went to the Air and Space museum in DC, and I remember my brother showed up and went with me down the stairs into one of the rocket ships there, which he had not been able to do in life, and I just felt how interested he was. It was this beautiful bonding moment, to just look at rockets together.
Things like that are what make me say: no, I don't miss my brother--because I still see him, and interact with him, and he is actually able to do a lot more with me now than he ever was in life, confined to wheelchairs and hospital beds.
So I am very happy for him that he passed when he did.
It wasn't until years after he died that I thought to ask WHY he had been born with such severe physical problems. I remember asking God about this, and God basically saying, "Why don't you just ASK HIM?!"
And I thought: I can do that? What? Okay!
And so I initiated that conversation, and just listened to my brother explain what had happened that had led to him choosing to be born so disabled. I wrote down the whole story of it in the book Deep Past Resolution, which is on Amazon if you are into paper copies, or else you can just get for free in PDF form here: tinyurl.com/unlockyourgifts. But the short version is, his massive physical struggles were the result of HIS CHOICE to be born into a body like that--not some weird curse or blessing from God or something.
It had always ticked me off when people would say, "Well, I guess your brother was just so perfect he didn't need a functional body." Or they would say, "He must be very special!" "He must have been extra special in heaven to have earned such a messed up body!"
This kind of thinking comes from the idea that disabled people are incapable of sin, so it's a big blessing to be born disabled.
But I remember how my brother would drool on his hands intentionally, and then entangle his fingers in my hair and pull, and laugh while I screamed.
You can't tell me my brother didn't have a mean streak. And sorry, but having a mean streak means you're not perfect.
I reject the idea that disability comes from perfection. Or that disability exists solely to teach other people a lesson. People would say that to me a lot, too. "He must have been born disabled so that your family could learn from it."
UH?!!?! Are you telling me that God is sending people to earth with horrifically dysfunctional bodies just so OTHER PEOPLE can BENEFIT from their IMMENSE SUFFERING?!
To me, this is a huge misunderstanding of God because the God I am BFF's with would never ever force someone to suffer just to teach sometime ELSE a lesson. To me that is the pinnacle of messed-up.
Also, when people ACTUALLY "only need a body" to fulfill their life mission, I'm pretty sure that's when they die as infants, not to be brashly direct about it. But if that's ALL he needed, then why did he live on for 27 difficult and painful years?
People who are perfect are either 1) Jesus or 2) dead or 3) translated angelic beings, per ACTUAL DOCTRINE. So no: I 100% reject the idea that disabled people are perfect. If they were perfected, they'd be translated and their bodies would be perfect too. That is my understanding of the doctrine.
And I reject the idea that they are only suffering as a divine gift to the rest of us losers who have so much to learn from them. That's not justice and it's not mercy either. So to me, that concept is NOT of God. God is all about justice and mercy, not making Person A suffer just for Person B to learn lessons.
Instead, I fully embrace the concept of AGENCY, and that we CHOOSE OUR BODIES before we are born, and that we all have had numerous rich pre-earth experiences that have informed these choices.
I believe that God respects agency 100% of the time, without exception, and that when we suffer here, it is NOT because God is trying to "teach us a lesson"--but because He is allowing us to experience difficult things WE previously CHOSE to experience in the pre-earth life--sometimes even after He tried to talk us out of it.
If a person wants to have a terrible experience on earth for whatever reason (self-punishment, guilt, shame, etc), I believe God will try to talk them out of it--but in the end, God respects our choices.
We really are living in the second act of a three-act play. And we can't remember the first act. But we DID live back then. We DID make choices. We DID have relationships that affected us. We had conversations that changed how we thought about reality and about ourselves. We were as conscious then as we are now, only now we cannot remember it.
We cannot remember all our decisions from back then. But those decisions and experiences still inform our lives EVERY DAY today here on earth. EVERY day.
In fact, it is my opinion that THIS IS WHY WE ARE HERE.
On a doctrinal level, we know that the ONLY perfect Being is Jesus Christ--and the rest of us are all HIGHLY IMPERFECT.
When did we START being highly imperfect?
Obviously, as spirits before we received bodies.
What happens when imperfect spirits interact? PAIN happens. MISUNDERSTANDINGS happen. ANGER happens. GRUDGES happen. You think these things are only reserved for this life?
No. No, no, no. I reject that 100%. Of COURSE if we all existed before, and we all were imperfect as we KNOW we must have been,--of COURSE we experienced trauma then that impacted our decisions of how we would live out our earth lives. Of COURSE. It is obvious and logical.
Sometimes people say: but how can people have trauma if they lived with God before they were born? Wouldn't we all have been perfectly comforted and had no suffering because of how glorious it is to be in God's healing presence?
I'll be honest: this question just blows my mind. God and Jesus are LITERALLY with us every moment RIGHT NOW--we are in Their divine healing presence in EVERY MOMENT RIGHT NOW--but people don't take advantage of that here. People seriously want to know why God wouldn't take away our pains and traumas when we lived with Him then--when the same people aren't turning over 100% of every trauma to God here and now!
It is EXACTLY THE SAME. They are just as present with us now as They were then. Guaranteed. The only difference is that before we could see Them and here we can't.
God does now and always has had the power to heal all of our hearts--but WE still have to CHOOSE into that healing process. And so many of us would rather hang on to our pains than turn them over.
Do we really think it was different then?
God is primarily an honorer of AGENCY. He honors what we CHOOSE and that is the point.
And it always was the point. Before we were born, if we chose to hold onto our hurts and pains, of COURSE He would let us.
And now today, when we choose into holding onto our issues and problems, of COURSE He lets us.
Because God loves CHOICE above all. He would NEVER heal someone against their will. Back then or here.
You think you escaped the War in Heaven emotionally unscathed? You think you left it without any shred of feeling betrayed by God for letting it happen? You think you would have seen that destruction and despair and immediately felt ready to turn it all over to God?
When you see destruction and despair here, do you immediately turn it over to God?
To me, this concept is in direct violation with the nature of the "natural man."
Humans FEEL. And we naturally want to hold onto our feelings. For so many of us it is so easy to feel that our feelings are what is "true," rather than just what is felt. But we hold onto our feelings and let them inform us, and sometimes we let them keep us from seeking healing, even when healing would be immediate through God's infinite and divine grace.
And then we come down here, imperfect, on a mission to discover what is it within that we need to resolve so we can be at peace in God's presence.
And the whole time, God honors our agency.
Why was my brother's life so hard?
I don't believe it was because he was already perfect or because he was forced to in order to teach little old loser me a lesson. I believe it was the effect of a CHOICE he made on purpose before he was born, to live that way. And I believe I also knowingly chose to be his sister and assist him for the first 25 years of my life.
So there you have it. I'll admit I was NOT planning to go on that tangent when I sat down to write a post about my brother and his life and death. But here we are.
Seven years and sometimes I still look at the clock and panic because I forgot to give him his meds.
Seven years and my life still feels like a dream--to just be able to leave the house whenever I want, to go somewhere without worrying where we can change an adult in a diaper, to get to live my own life without that constant, gnawing fear that my brother would outlive my parents and I'd be on the hook alone to care for him for the rest of his life.
I don't miss him. I love him but I don't miss him, because I still see him from time to time. We're closer now than we were back then. And I know I'll see him again in the flesh when the time is right--thanks to Jesus Christ and the promise of the Resurrection.
Seven years. Seven years! Congratulations, James. Congratulations. We did it. We did it. We did it.