Sunday, 24 May 2015

You can take your Bible and... try reading it

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how my brother in law was in hospital with, we all assumed, a recurrence of his old problem of hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). A scan informed us that the problem this time was a very aggressive form of brain cancer. So, since the beginning of April, he's not actually been back home. He's been moved from hospital to hospice, and is now almost completely deaf, getting increasingly confused, and has weeks left to live. 

The Husband is visiting him every evening that he can, taking the pressure off by playing cricket at the weekends and working hard. The rest of us are taking it in turns to accompany him. Despite the bleakness of it all, there are funny moments: The Brother in Law is on steroids, which are making him very hungry - if you turn up for a visit without a bag from KFC or McDonald's, you're sent on your way. When The Husband appeared empty-handed once, and pointed out that collecting a KFC order would take twenty minutes, leaving little time for visiting, he was told that food was more important, and not to forget a milkshake. (The Brother in Law is on the autistic spectrum, so doesn't tend to sugar-coat things...). 

It was all very hard to deal with, at the beginning. One of the main problems was that he hadn't made a will. Being unmarried, with no children, the lack of a will would mean everything he had spent his life working incredibly hard for would go to his mother. I haven't really mentioned the Mother in Law on here. Mainly because I ticked a box, when creating the blog, that said it was suitable for general viewing and would have no adult content. Therefore, the amount of Bad Words I'm allowed to use is limited. Suffice to say, on the morning of our wedding, she smiled sweetly at me and the Almost Husband, and told us that she gave us six months at the most. I have stuck it 25 years just to spite her. She has used and put-down every one of her children (sorry, that makes it sound like she has hundreds - there are three), and is honestly the most poisonous person I have ever known. So, anyway, the Brother in Law has made it very clear in the past that no money was ever to go her way but, without a will, there was no other way. The hospital consultant had told us that it would do the poor guy no good to know that he was dying (although someone thoughtlessly told him anyway), so we were kind of stuck. Not that we wanted his money, you understand. We just wanted it to go to someone or an organisation of his choice. 

That's now sorted, but it was a very stressful time, because it was all new to us, and we wanted the best for him. I had to hurry out of a school assembly during that time as the children were singing 'One more step along the world I go,' and it got to the chorus of: '... and it's from the old I travel to the new...' and I had to leave the hall. It was totally my own fault. In the years since I've taken creative writing courses, I tend to observe situations and think of how I'd write about them. When the children started singing, my writing brain thought: if I was doing a screenplay, I'd have a funeral scene, with background music of primary school children singing this song. And, dammit, that was it. I had to go and be consoled by The Boss Lady. I really must stop being pathetic. 

And now we're kind of getting as used to the situation as we can. We can see the humour in him bumming cigarettes off the nurses and threatening to hitchhike home when the man in the opposite bed annoys him. But, boy, did we get angry last night... The Husband phoned his cousin, just to update him on things. It was explained that the Brother in Law kind of knows he's dying, but has hope, and wants his job kept open for him, just in case. The Cousin said that it should be made clear to him that he's dying. That he should have a Bible taken in and have Psalm 23 read to him, so he can repent of all his sins and relax in the knowledge that he'll go to heaven. The Husband was remarkably restrained (Brother in Law doesn't believe in God, by the way) and said it would be an incredibly cruel thing to do. 'Everyone should have the chance to repent of their sins,' was the answer. 'Even those who are part of ISIS and behead people need the chance to repent.' We were told that we should at least leave a Bible by his bed, in case he needed it. 'Do we even have a Bible?' The Husband asked me, when he'd calmed down. 'Several,' I replied. 'Plus a Qur'an and other holy books.' We both got the same mischievous look in our eyes then, but decided that placing a Qur'an next to the bed when The Cousin visited might be a step too far. 

I have no objection to religion, but when it's used in cruel or hurtful ways, or just to make yourself feel good at the expense of others, then you can keep it. On the other hand, I know good Christians who know I don't believe, but show their kindheartedness and thoughtfulness in ways that are not shoving their religion in my face. 'I know you don't believe in such stuff,' one told me a while back, 'but I'm praying for you anyway.' To which my answer was, 'Thank you, I appreciate that you care.' 


  1. I am sending kind thoughts to you and your family (even though we don't know each other, but I've been following this blog for a long time).

    1. Thank you, Terri. That's very kind, and I appreciate it. x