Jordan is my fourth oldest brother. Number 4 out of 8 (we like numbers in large families). As a young child I was often tormented by Jordan. If I was the brunt of a joke or being teased, Jordan was the one who would laugh the hardest and try to keep the joke going as long as possible. He liked to make things up and share them as facts. He was so convincing that to this day I feel like I am still finding things out that were never true. As kids we looked alike. He knew I hated that fact because I thought it meant I looked like a boy. He would often say things like, "Wow Faith, we look so much alike. When I look at you I feel like I am looking in a mirror!" See what I am saying? Tormented.
Jordan has always been really cool. Handsome. Popular. Just plain cool. He was (and still is) the kind of guy you couldn't help but admire. Easy going. Hard working. Funny. You'd have to try to not like him. It's true, he is my older brother, I have always looked up to him, but everybody likes Jordan. He has a quality you can't fake or copy. Besides all that, Jordan had the gift of always looking cool. He knew how to take a style that was popular, and make it his own. Therefore always looking cool, and yet always standing apart. He tried to advise me in my wardrobe. I didn't realize at the time that wearing his hand-me-down pants and stretched out tees was just not cool and therefore didn't realize that he was simply trying to help me. All I have to do is look at old pictures to see he had all the best intentions.
A little over a year ago I got a phone call that Jordan was in the hospital. No one knew what was wrong, but they knew it was serious. Each day I anxiously waited for the daily call I would get from one of my brothers or my parents giving me the little information they had on what was going on. I remember I was sitting in Chemistry lecture one evening when my phone started to ring. It was my dad. I rushed into the hall, my stomach in my throat. I didn't know what he was going to say, but I knew it wasn't good. "They think it's Aplastic Anemia," he said.
You know those movies where when the character gets bad news and everything stops? Everything else fades, the camera zooms in, the person slumps to the floor, the music gets louder, everything is focused on the confusion and fear that the person is feeling in that moment. That's pretty much exactly what it was like. Except in real life instead of dramatic music, there is nothing but the ringing in your ears and the sound of your own breath. I thought this disease was supposed to be rare! There must be a mistake! No, yeah... he said "think", they don't know for sure... I had to think that. Just months earlier a friend had died from the very same disease. It couldn't be the same.
As the days passed and they confirmed that it was in fact Aplastic Anemia, my sister and I had to keep the fear that a friend had died from the same disease our brother was just diagnosed with to ourselves. We didn't want to alarm anyone. We had to be hopeful too. Not saying it out loud, made it a little less real. We put our focus on prayer and getting our blood tested to see who was a match for the inevitable bone marrow transplant. I actually can't remember how long this process took. It felt like months. Out of seven siblings, my oldest brother was announced as Jordan's match. Hearing that news felt like taking a deep breath before a plunge. There was a long way to go, but there was hope.
It wasn't long after that Aiden and I were stepping on a plane headed for California. My younger sister Jenteal was already out there helping Jordan and his wife Corie with their one year old daughter Gabbie. When I got there they asked me if I would like to go see Jordan. I did, but I was scared. This was early in my pregnancy with Gabriel, so I stalled with the need of food. I wanted to see him, but I didn't know if I could handle seeing him. I wanted to be strong, to encourage him. I was afraid I would break down and cry instead. I looked at Corie and Jenteal. They had already been there dealing with all this face-to-face for a month. How were they so strong still? I wanted their strength to rub off on me. So I stalled. I forced myself to eat some food. I prayed. Then I went to see Jordan.
I didn't know what to expect. I was given hand sanitizer and a face mask and ushered into his small hospital room. My usually tall, strong, tan, charismatic brother was laying on the bed. He was pale from weeks of being indoors, thin from not being able to eat, weak from little sleep, never ending tests, and pain. I didn't know what to say, whether to hug him like I wanted to do, or stay back for the sake of germs (he was extremely susceptible, hence the face masks). Before this moment I hadn't seen my brother in 3 years. Yet as he saw me, he smiled, and I couldn't help but do the same. His body was frail and weak, but I could see God's strength still present in his eyes, and this above anything else gave me hope. I left feeling encouraged.
I only got to see him one more time in the ten days that I was there, but still I felt closer to him than I had since he left for college. It's weird how the threat of losing someone does that to you. The thing that stuck out the most to me during that time was how strong every one was. A time when they had most reason to be weak, to break down, to give up, they were strong. It was supernatural. Because Jordan has lived on the other side of the country, I had only really talked to Corie once or twice before this time. In those ten days I spent with her, I could see every reason he fell so madly in love with her. She was so patient, strong, and willing to give of herself even when she felt she had nothing else to give.
I don't think any of us could breath normally until Jordan was officially in remission. I don't think any of us officially relaxed until he had been home and recovering for 3 months. I don't think I thought it was possible for things to ever go back to normal after that time. Yet if you looked at Jordan now, you never would know all that he had gone through this whole last year if he didn't tell you. Of course, things have changed. Both subtly and obviously. Things internally and externally. None of us will ever really be the same.
When I think about Jordan, I think thankful. Thankful for Jordan. Thankful for family. Thankful for God. God is good. Faithful. Strong. I will forever praise Him for saving my brother's life.
I love you Jordan!