My Brother

Neuro_edited-1My older brother Doug is fighting for his life in a Florida hospital. Two weeks ago, he was a healthy 65-year-old, that was before a vicious bacterial infection declared war on his body. He’s tethered to more tubes than my mind can untangle – two surgeries in less than a week, and his drug-induced sleep has gone on for nearly as long.

Emails and texts from people around the country have been a God-thing for his wife Rachel and their four adult children. Entries on appear by the hundreds. Prayers for healing, miracles, and recovery abound, many include snippets and whole paragraphs of scripture reminding us of divine faithfulness and prayer’s power.

Before I caught a plane back to Michigan today, I returned to the ICU at Holmes Medical Center in Melbourne and placed a card on my brother’s chest, told him to keep the light on for me because I will return, and kissed him goodbye.

I share my note not to suggest I have my theology all figured out, but to confess the struggle I experience . . .



Dear Doug,

I woke up at 2 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I found a Walgreens and bought this card. Hundreds of people are praying for you, and I’m among those at the front of the line. I’m sitting at a Dunkin Donuts crying my eyes out. Like everybody, I’m praying for your healing and recovery. Even though parts of your body look like a war zone, your life is too sweet to leave. My prayer is for you to stay.

But I can’t help wondering what your active mind is thinking, what you in your deep sleep are seeing. Maybe you’re headed down a trail to something glorious, to that place where the trees grow taller, and the air is clearer, and a faithful God is saying, “Come to me and I will give you rest.”

Should my prayer be, “Stay if you can” or “Go into those arms if you must”?

I’m not about to tell God what to do, nor you. So, my prayer is that whatever you’re seeing, feeling, beholding, and experiencing, you will receive your heart’s desire.

I’m going to hedge my bet and keep my tennis racket strung tight and that new can of Wilson yellow balls in the closet in the hope that we will invade the courts at the corner of Hall and Breton to see who cramps up first.

Thanks for being my best brother, my best man, and my best friend. I love you always!



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  1. Maria Krug May 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    Prayers for no pain
    Prayers that the love and support Doug’s family is feeling now does not dwindle as “normal” comes back into play.
    May the Lord choose the path that is right and may we all have the strength to bear what comes next.


  2. Becky May 15, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    Dear Dan,

    I have been praying the same prayer. I’ve also been praying for you. Waiting and watching is a hard place to be.

  3. Dr. Don May 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    My deepest sympathy, Daniel. Being in recovery from emergency surgery of my own, I, too, have received well-wishes from an array of friends. Many have been from some that I already considered to be close. Others have been surprising, as in, “I never realized that acquaintance cared enough to send a greeting.” Many have been religious, but blessedly free from “knowing” the answers to life’s big questions. At this point, I am happy just knowing there are others with me on the path. Your note to your brother is such an encouragement. Blessings to you, my friend.

  4. Ellen Ives May 15, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Oh, Dan– I am so sorry for what your brother, his/your family, and you are going through. I wish for you all a way to know some peace and comfort in whatever happens. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Ellen

  5. John Baumgartner May 15, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    Dear Dan,
    I first want to reach out in compassion and mercy to you on the occasion of this human calamity. I can imagine the confliction you describe. I can sense and feel the anquish over not so clear outcomes. I am reminded of Annie Lamont’s three ways of prayer: “Help, Thanks, Wow”. Hopefully the movement is to Thanks and Wow.

  6. Allan Martling May 15, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

    Dear Dan, We join the list of those surrounding you, your brother and your wider family. I think I know you well enough that you have probably said these loving words of faith to your brother before. If there is a gift to crises like these, we do end up sharing the important, life-giving and life-celebrating food of love to those who need them most – for the first time or the umteenth time. And they are practice for the non-crises times to open our relationships to words that kiss and thoughts that embrace others. We love you, Dan

    Grace and Peace, Allan and Nancy

  7. Dennis Keefe May 15, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    God bless you, your brother and your whole family, Dan. Thinking of you. Praying.
    Dennis Keefe

  8. Anonymous May 15, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    Prayers for all of you in this valley of the shadow of death, this event puts reality to this phrase from the Psalms. May the rest of the line “you are with me” bring comfort.

  9. Ana May 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    Oh Dan, I am so sorry. The thought of losing a sibling takes the heart somewhere it should not have to go Your words were so beautiful and so descriptive that I found myself listening in to the conversation your brother just might be having. I hope he wakes up and gets to read your words.

  10. Dick Dunn May 15, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    Wisely chosen words and deeds. I’m sending my love and bear-hugs.

  11. Lisa Mitchell May 15, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Dear Dan, My prayers are with Doug, you and his family. This is one of those mysteries of life. Thank you for your reflection and naming your prayer and reminding all of us that it’s in God’s hands. I love the image your words gave me of going into God’s arms to rest – whether we’re living or dying. God’s blessings to you at this difficult time. Lisa

  12. Karin Lance May 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Beautiful posting. I have been struggling to get on the care page and am so very thankful I got to see and read this post. We are all praying for Doug and your whole family. It is hard to believe this is happening. I love you and Doug very much. Thank you for the update.

  13. Marie Cobb May 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

    This made me tear up. Praying for your brother, his family, you and your family. We never know when a major health issue will come along.

  14. Mary Kansfield May 15, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    It’s always hard to say good-bye regardless of when or where. Just returned from saying good-bye to David Waanders who is a patient at RWJSomerset. Would there time for one more game of tennis, one more day together, one more manhattan. As you said, keep the door open — we’ll be coming along shortly. In the meantime we’ll try our hardest to keep the faith and run the race well. Pentecost is here. Love, Mary

  15. donald jiskoot May 15, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    So powerful and meaningful gut sharing. I can identify having lost a favorite brother. Pain lingers even after “letting go”. Blessings my friend.

  16. Roger Mulder May 15, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    Dan, Bev and I have offered numerous prayers on behalf of Doug, Rachel and family. Like everyone else, we were completely shocked when we heard the news. Please be aware that we will keep the entire Plasman family in our prayers and recognize that God is in control.
    Bless you for being a beloved brother!!
    Please keep us informed of current developments.

    Rog & Bev

  17. Russ Donaldson May 15, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

    Oh, Dan, we’re so sorry to hear of your brother’s crisis. Our prayers will be with him and with you.

    Russ and Azanda Donaldson

  18. Judy Atwater May 15, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

    Oh Dan. This hit me deeply. I had an older brother named Doug. Thank you for sharing your heart. I will keep your big brother Doug, his family, and you in my heart and prayers.

  19. Susan Kmetz May 16, 2016 at 1:17 am #

    Dear Dan-
    I have never met your nor your brother, but I am a friend of Hilary Guter’s and she has told me of your brother’s illness. I am so sad to hear this news and I am praying that your brother will have a full recovery and that there will be a happy outcome to this. Sending prayers and love from the Jersey Shore and I will put the name “Doug P.” on our prayer list at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Manasquan, NJ. God bless your brother and your family at this difficult time. Sincerely, Sue Kmetz

  20. Heidi and Kris May 16, 2016 at 1:20 am #

    Dear Dan,
    We are keeping your brother, Doug, you, and your family in our thoughts and prayers.
    Love, Kris and Heidi

  21. David Kidd May 16, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    I’ve wished all my life that I had a brother – especially one like you. Thanks for being you! Dave Kidd

  22. Lou Bury May 16, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Prayers to you and your family, Dan.

  23. Elon Cameron May 16, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    All love and prayers to you and your brother during this time.
    Thank you for sharing your faith in this struggle, it helps light the way for those of us who forget there are many of us with loved ones fighting for their lives, everyday.


  24. Phil Plasman May 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

    Oh Dan,
    So appropriately stated. This man is so loved, because he loves so much . May the faith we received from our fathers and forefathers show up in a very practical way in this very difficult time.
    Please know that Jan and I care for you for Jody, for Rachel the kids and of course especially for Doug.

  25. Marge Vander Wagen May 19, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    I am weeping because you now know the feelings I had when my husband was ill. I will pray for you, your entire family and Doug. My prayers are for mercy and grace. Mercy that Doug will be spared any discomfort. Grace that we can accept and be content with God’s plan.
    My heart is with you in the coming days.