Shall we reflect upon 2017 a bit? Now seems an appropriate time, being the cusp of the new year and all…

For me, the past year held quite a bit of stress and pain, but there were also some wonderful, memorable moments. The most prominent pieces centering around my brother Jim, or my becoming re-acquainted with my brother Jim. He is my oldest little brother. Born in 1975 he is four years younger than me, and the sibling I felt I knew the least. At the end of 2016 he was diagnosed with Cirrhosis, but I wouldn’t hear about that until the beginning of 2017. In April it got so crazy that I swore we were going to lose him over the summer. Here it is though, just past Christmas, and he’s still alive and kicking.

Can I take just a moment to say how proud of him I am? I mean, by all accounts he shouldn’t be here.

At the end of September I got a text from my father saying that the hospital was talking hospice again. I was told that Jim had 37% liver function. I started making plans to visit over fall break. I took my two oldest children with me for the journey.

On that visit he both scared and surprised me. He looked so thin and yellow, but he was so happy to see us walk through the door. Things looked bad, but he had hope. Hope that he could beat his diagnosis. Hope that he could live the life he wanted. Hope that he could get on the transplant list and stay healthy long enough to get the liver that will guarantee a longer life.

We had a good visit, and I left knowing that if I lost him over the holidays I was ready to let him go. Something interesting happened though…right after our visit he started doing better.

He was doing so well that the hospital felt there was nothing more they could do for him. They worked with him on medications, medication times, diet, and exercise. Then, early November, they released him.

Releasing him was scary. Would he fall back into his old ways? Would he be able to handle the autonomy?

Trepidatiously, Dad picked him up. That was an ordeal in itself,  but Jim was out. Out of the hospital and free to do all those things he’d been longing to do for the past few months. Feel wind and sun on his face. Enjoy a car ride to nowhere in particular, watch a movie at the theater, be with family for the holidays.

Here it is, December 28th, and my little brother is alive and happy in Tennessee. Who knows what 2018 holds for him. Just because he’s out of the hospital doesn’t mean his battle is over. Far from it, his battle has just begun in many ways, but he’s handling it on his terms now.

It’s what I wanted for him. What I thought he would not have the chance to achieve. So for New Year’s I want to toast James Robert Fundis, my little brother. I’m so glad he’s on this Earth celebrating another New Year.


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