My brother, Frederick Edward Barton (August 25, 1961 - September 26, 2005) was in a plane crash in early December, 1993. There were five people on board this huge, old, Gruman Goose along with a lot of freight. The plane was 55 years old and had not been properly maintained as it should have been. In terms of the investigation into the crash, there were many faults discovered- in the end, two people were dead, they were "crushed" instantly in the wreckage and three survived, very miraculously. My brother Fred, by the "Great Grace of God" was one of the survivors. God gave him back to us for another eleven and a half years before his peaceful passing in September, 2005. This, I call one of my life's greatest gifts: to have my brother and best friend for another eleven and a half years. Though his passing was as a thousand swords to my heart and soul- I am extremely grateful for the extra time we had together- considering the tremendous damage and extreme brokenness of his body coming out of the crash. He was truly a miracle.
I had given up my life and career for him temporarily, here in the city. Once released from the trauma unit at Vancouver General Hospital weeks later, and it was sure that he was going to be okay, he was sent back to Prince Rupert Regional Hospital. Some time later he was discharged from the hospital and placed in a hotel in Rupert so that he could keep up with his physiotherapy and doctor appointments. He needed someone to be with him to assist him with his continued doctor and hospital visits. He was my best friend, at the time I was the only one in the family not married and with no children- it was obvious what I had to do. I gave up my career in education, gave up my apartment and moved to Prince Rupert.
I stayed with him in the hotel for a few weeks until I could find myself an apartment. Nine months into my stay with him, on the morning of one of his physiotherapy sessions, we awoke very early. I loved and do love my brother very much but small town living is not for me: I have city in my blood. This is something I've known since I was six years old- the very first time we rode through Vancouver on a bus on route to the residential school. I looked at Fred, lying on his bed, waiting for the medi-van to pick him up. As he hobbled toward the door using very painfully, and slowly, his walker...in my mind's eye I seen him take his first steps. He walked out the door and as I watched him I smiled ear to ear. I knew when he came home at the end of the day he would have great news. The day ended, he came to the door, smiling...almost in tears. He said, "Guess what brother, I took my first steps today without my walker." I looked at him, too, almost in tears and said, "I know brother, I know. Congratulations."
I knew now for sure my brother was going to be okay. Now began the great internal debate: should I stay or should I go- as there wasn't a day that I woke up there, that I didn't have Vancouver on my mind.
Which Way Should I Go
I've sat in my room many nights in a row
as I've sat I've asked continuously: "Which way should I go?"
My mind often wonders to a city beyond
yet not in heaven but on earth, does this city abound.
It's of many bright lights much excitement and with much to do
wondrous attractions, opportunities, so beautiful too!
Yet in the excitement of my mind's eye
loneliness floods my heart at the thought of good-bye.
Though this town seems small with not much to do
I've made friendships, renewed relationships, I've felt joy too.
In these I'd learned again to trust, to laugh and again to play
a freedom in my heart I hoped forever it would stay.
As of late in uncertainty and with much gone awry
I've difficultly getting back on track, I feel I must say: Good-bye.
In my leaving am I running giving into my fear
so in that city so full of excitement- I could be near.
Am I hoping that the noise, the people, and the stores
would be enough to drown life's sorrows- shutting out life's sores.
Could it be that I've been battered, bruised, and hurt so bad
that I think that I'm not worthy- a healing to be had.
Have I done so many wrongs and wronged so many in my heart
that I continue to deny myself opportunity- a brand new start.
Lord in this world that I've so obviously built
help me build cities called Love, Joy and Peace, Removal of Guilt.
May these cities in their beauty out-weigh all done before
with keys accessible to all who want entrance to the door.
In these cities may there be hugs with many a bright smile
to encourage that one on to go yet another mile.
For the one who is weak, weary and broken hearted
may there be strength, courage and joy, to get them again started.
For the one who feels he's come to the end of his rope
may there be plenty of honesty, wisdom, and beautiful rainbows of hope.
You see here in the cities that abide here in this world
though beautiful and exciting much darkness is hurled.
Let me not be fooled by the city's bright lights
let me see it in its entirety, including the lonely dark nights.
When darkness will roam and sorrow increase
how then will the city be a sweet release.
Lord hear my heart my anguishing cry
I'm tired of trying to build cities that reach to the sky.
When all it takes is time out on my knees
a plea to the master builder: Can you build this city- Please!
Teach me to reach now for what exists beyond
the realms of the spiritual surely much help to be found.
Let me see you in your beauty, your strength and your grace
your ability to build, rebuild, and embrace.
An embracement of love, of loyalty, of trust
to have you in my life Master-builder, is a must.
I'll no longer in this world seek cities that deceive
that lie, that cheat, that destroy and bereave.
I'll set my sights onto heaven as I've heard that it's real
this city of gold, true happiness, no sorrow to feel.
No more darkness, no pain, no parting or grief
to meet at last the one, the foundation of my belief.
His name is Jesus, my Savior, my Lord and my King
the one who is my all, who is my everything.
As I stand once more getting up off my knees
I'll live by faith trusting you Lord, will part my seas.
That neither depth, nor height, nor distance or size
may prevent me from reaching that ultimate prize.
This city that you've built with its streets made of gold
another chance with many loved ones, forever to hold.
Let my heart be no more weary in this place that I am
God's spirit will lead me to where no other can.
Having discovered the answer to "Which way should I go..."
in a still, small voice he speaks:
"Be still. Follow me. For the path I know."
(C) Godwin H. Barton