In the early morning hours of January 16th, my Stepmom called an ambulance because her husband, my father, was incoherent, not making sense, and sick. When the paramedics came at 3 in the morning and started their evaluation, my father was able to give them his name, age, etc. They determined after checking him that he was okay and gave him two Tylenols. They departed without taking him to the hospital. About 4 hours later, my Stepmom would come home after doing laundry, walk to his bedroom to check up on him. She opened the door to find collapsed on the floor, not breathing and unresponsive. My Stepmom called the paramedics again and it took them nearly thirty minutes to get there. With his lips blue, his breath ceasing, they started their resuscitation procedures, but it was too late. He would die at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York.
I had to call the hospital myself as my Stepmom called me hysterically because they had not come out of the Emergency room to give her any updates. I then hung up and called the Emergency room myself and was transferred to the doctor who was there when my Father came in. He informed that they tried all they could but could not get his heart started. He was unaware that my Stepmom was in the Emergency Room, waiting for answers. I had to tell him that she was out there and alone. I hung up. I was in the Target parking lot when I learned my father died due to COVID related issues.
A few days later, my younger brother would be admitted with COVID. I had spoken on the phone with him just a few days after our Father’s death. A week prior, my younger brother had Gall Bladder surgery. He mentioned to me that he was getting winded when walking to the bathroom. It did not click in my mind that he had COVID. I assumed it was recovery from the surgery. It would be a day or so later that my stepmom would have to call the Ambulance for my brother. This time, they took him to Elmhurst Hospital. He was admitted and immediately placed on 100% pure oxygen. I managed to text him and tell him that I loved him. The last I called, he did not pick up, but I left the message of the Gospel on his phone, pleading with him to go to Christ. I would not hear from him again. Daily my Stepmom would call and update me on his status. At times, I called in the morning, worried. The people, the staff I spoke with could not give me any clear answers, but only tell me to wait until after the doctors had finished their rounds and that would end around one in the afternoon.
The only communication that my Stepmom could have with him was via Facetime, but that had to be by appointment through a social worker. There were times, when she could not get to speak with him. The days pasted and all seemed to be going well, but that all changed when a few days later he was not improving. I was called by some doctor, I do know who since there were so many that called me, asking me to give permission to intubate. I was the only living kin to my younger brother and I had to give permission. I did and they intubated him. Though heavily sedated, my Stepmom was able to Face time him. In order to communicate, he would give a thumbs up to her and my Stepmom would relate that to me, and she would relate to him my love and prayers.
Daily I would walk in the backyard in prayer, asking and pleading with the Lord to spare him and save him. Friday, February 5th, on our daily call, the nurse who tended him stated that he was improving but could not make any promises that the improvement would continue. I was happy at the moment and thankful to the Lord for that news. The next day came, February 6th, his 34th birthday and the daily call was the same, he was hanging in there and looked to be improving. All seemed well.
On February 7th, I awoke on the Lord’s day and me and wife went to church. My Stepmom would be getting the daily update that day as I was not able too. I came home from church and spoke with my Stepmom and she stated she was having problems getting in contact with the doctor with an update. I told her that I would call. It was around 3:20 pm when I called the nurses station there. The nurse picked up and her voice was frantic. In the background I could hear the code alarms going off loudly. She told me she would call back a soon as she could. She hung up. Not even 5 minutes later, my phone rang, and I recognized the hospital number.
I picked up and the sound of the code alarms were still going off in the background. It was a female doctor, whose name I cannot recall. Without hesitation, she told me that my younger brother had gone into cardiac arrest and they were doing everything they could for the last 5 minutes. She said they were all in there doing what they can and that she would call me back. At 3:30 pm, February 7th, a day after his birthday, she called me back to inform me that he had passed. She very politely passed onto me her condolences and we hung up. I remember wandering from my bedroom to the patio where I collapsed to the ground and lost control of all my emotions.
My wife placed her hands on my shoulders as I felt my world collapsed in a matter of seconds. My Father and now my younger brother had passed into eternity. I had not seen my brother in a decade. I was hoping and praying to travel up there to help him recover, now I would travel to make the cremation arrangements and collect some of his things.
My brother spent the last of his days alone in the ICU unit at Elmhurst Hospital, surrounded by aliens, strangers he did not know. I know he felt fear. I could feel that being his brother. He was my younger brother, I knew him. Even though sedated, I know he was scared and alone. Due to the New York State and Hospital protocols, no one was allowed to see him. Not me. Not my Stepmom. No family whatsoever. There he lay in a cold room, surround and hooked up to machines helping him breath.
He was isolated like so many were and are in New York State. The news is finally coming out about the deaths of many seniors in nursing homes. The governor of New York knew of the problems and allowed them to happen, ignoring them. Families were not allowed to see their loved ones. If you were lucky, it would be through a window with no human contact. We may never know the true numbers of those that have died alone due to this virus and the godless politics.
An article came out yesterday I believe and Phil Johnson of Grace to You posted it. The Article was about how nurses are using rubber gloves and filling them with warm water; placing them in the hands of those who are hooked up to machines. They are trying to recreate human contact and they have the ignorance and audacity to call it, “The Hand of God”. Truly, the article angered me so much. How can that represent human contact? It simply cannot. What it represents though is the coldness of our present humanity.
It represents the depravity of the human heart. It has been the strategy of the devil and the powers that be in the destruction of family. John Calvin once stated, “When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers”. It certainly is true of our age as Romans 1 is passing before our eyes this day.
My brother was alone in that room. If the doctors had to wear the PPE gear to be around him, then why not family members? My Stepmom and I were not there to rub his brow, to hold his hand, to kiss his forehead and be there all because of protocols. Whenever we called for an update, it seemed like we were a burden to the health care providers there. Now, please know, this is not a diatribe against all doctors and nurses. They see death daily. I get that, but I think they fail to realize that outside, sitting anxiously near a phone is the loved one. There are doctors and nurses that are in it for the paycheck, but there are those that take their oath seriously and care.
We are seeing a great evil arise in our time. Here we see the hopelessness of the world. It is a new world were the cold and depraved heart are in abundance. We are seeing the rise of tyrannical governments and a health care system that has forgotten its Hippocratic oath to the patient.
No, a rubber glove filled with warm water is not the hand of God! It is the touch and caress of a loved one that makes all the difference to that person that is lying in that bed, scared and alone. My nightmares nightly are of my father dying on the floor of his bedroom and my brother alone and scared in a cold, darkened room. I wish and pray that I was there to hold his hand and kiss his cheek.
Now all that I have of my brother is a small vial of his ashes on my shelf.
Yet, as the months have flown by, I have learned that we have a God that does not let go. He does not depart from us when we are alone scared. We await the Hope of Jesus Christ, who will return and make all things new.
Nightly the verse that comes to me and a verse I read often is Revelation 21:3-4 that states:
“And I heard a loud voice from the Throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
My heart and prayers go out to the those that have lost their loved ones, who they could not see in person. I now know what it feels like and that is why we must share the Gospel of the Glorious Christ to guide and hold us in these dark and evil times.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Stephen J. Melniszyn
Dedicated to my Father, Stephen J. Melniszyn (May 10, 1954- January 16, 2021), and my younger brother, William Daniel Melniszyn (February 6, 1987 – February 7, 2021)
You both will always be in my heart and memories.