The Needless Suffering and Death of Nathaniel (Daniel) Kirby
We buried Nathaniel two days ago. Mainly, I wanted to write to you about some things that were on my heart before Nathaniel died. I also thought I would give you an idea how it went with the burial.
But first I want to give you proper greetings in the name of our Savior Yahshua in whose name we have hope and life. I appreciate you and Marsha so much for how you have loved me and my wife. Joellen thinks much of you and especially Marsha. Thanks for the sweater from Yacoth and also I got the coat from him. You’re love is embarrassing some times – everyone in the radio room always laughs at me when you ask about my coat situation or encourages me about what you’ve heard or something.
Actually, these last 5 or 6 months have been very hard for me mainly because I’ve been gone so much – to the hospital mostly or on the road taking Nathaniel to physical therapy three times a week. Taking care of some of the legal matters of the church tends to be consuming also.
About two weeks ago, Joellen and I got together with Michael and Emily Morgan and had a “marriage counseling” session with them. Joellen was able to air some grief’s about my busyness and about the needs of our 3 children. (Soon to be number 4). I think since then, she has had more grace to cope with my absence – and I have had to see how important it is that I take the time to cover her and give her my mind and express my care for her and the children. This morning we had breakfast together in bed and then took a walk in the beautiful spring weather – had a wonderful time.
When Nathaniel got out of the hospital, it was so wonderful. He was very sensitive and open and we were full of hope. We all felt there was a miraculous change. Nathaniel and I have always had a very open relationship. He was often free to be a certain way with me that no one else might see or know.
What I have to say from here on might be overly subjective but it is how I feel and perhaps our Father will give you wisdom to judge it. After a few weeks of being home, I began to sense a certain amount of the old Nathaniel coming back. He was beginning to resist my encouragement to “hurry and get well.” My efforts to get him out of the house and down to wood shop were only partly received. He continued to take a good many drugs, codeine pain killer, etc. When I moved to the Pleasant House to live with them in March, he was still regularly drinking wine, “to calm his nerves so he could cope.” Before going to a celebration or something, he would drink a glass, and sometime take some with him to drink while he was there. As I would talk to him about these things, he would receive me – he quit the wine, said he would try to cut back on the drugs, etc. I sensed a lack of gratitude and receiving of whatever we or our God had to bring to him. This isn’t to say his spirit was awful by any means or that everyone was noticing it – everyone was encouraged and full of hope for him, but seeing him from the inside I was a little disappointed.
The first time I got him down to David’s Harp Shop (carried him up the stairs) I felt so triumphant – Nathaniel’s back. He’s survived, and now David’s Harp is going to be different and on a new foundation. Instead, the hour we spent there was filled with his complaining about how I had let the shop get so messy. He was quite upset that some of his tools were either gone or had been dulled or misused. Our visit concluded with him saying that he wanted me to put all his tools together and bring them up to his house so he could keep up with them.
There was always a basis for Nathaniel’s negativity, but it was demonstrated. Where was his thanks for our support of him and to our Father? I quietly drove him home, helped him up to his room, and went off and got depressed.
So much of my life and vision was invested in Nathaniel and I needed him to overcome – but I was beginning to see that the battle wasn’t over yet. Finally, two days later I went to him to talk about it and he said he was aware he was being negative and said he was sorry. Nathaniel always seemed to be trying, but it’s clear to me now that somehow he wasn’t receiving the grace to put his enemies under his feet. Though his heart was to do it, his will was flabby, and unable to act.
After about a 3 hour talk several weeks ago with the elders, he told me it was “more of the same,” and had trouble with some of the things that were said to him. I do think he tried though, and did what they directed him to do. He got rid of his tape player; quit listening to the radio, etc. They told him it was abnormal that he had never gotten up before the body and expressed his thanks to us and also for our Father’s goodness. He did it the next first day, and it was so good to hear it.
I never doubted that there was a good seed in Nathaniel and that he would make it through this. I just thought it was going to take a long time with lots of working with him and Rose. (Their relationship continued to have its ups and downs – though it was definitely better than before the wreck).
Nun, Deshe and me and our wives went to New York City to a Jewish folk dance thing. We left on Friday, March 28, and that evening Nathaniel became very sick. He and Rose were staying at the Maple’s because our floors were being sanded. Friday night he was violently sick, and throwing up with bad stomach pains. The brothers felt it was a bad case of a virus that was going around. Several people had been also very sick with similar symptoms. As I said this, I was gone during the whole weekend and missed it all. As I got back I got the story. This is basically what I found out.
Saturday, he and Rose called for the elders. Only Michael Morgan and John Post were available and they came over. He confessed some sins, (I don’t know what) and they prayed for him. John felt and proclaimed that it wasn’t Yahweh’s will that Nathaniel have to go back to the hospital and prayed on that behalf.
Nathaniel agreed. Nathaniel asked if they thought it would be okay to take some codeine. Michael encouraged him to trust his God, trying to steer him away from it and suggest not doing it. With that, they left. His pains persisted, so somehow he made it to a telephone somewhere and called his stepfather who is a doctor in Georgia. He asked him about taking the codeine and the doctor agreed it would help. So Nathaniel called John Post and said that he wanted to take the codeine and John said, “If that’s what you want to do.” He took the codeine and according to his report to me, the pain got worse. (He said it without acknowledging that it might have been better to have followed his brother’s advice).
Charles returned to town before breaking of bread, and supported his brother’s feelings, encouraging Nathaniel to “ride it out.” He gave him the freedom to do what he wanted to do. Saturday night brought no relief, and first day morning, he said, “Listen, guys I’m going to the hospital. Get me a car.” And they did. As soon as he got to the hospital, he started having breathing difficulties, also, which later evolved into a collapsed lung; ruptured stomach, etc… enter the doctors while the $1000’s add up.
When I returned from New York, having heard about Nathaniel’s hospitalization, they dropped me off at the hospital and I found him back in intensive care unit – in the same room as before. It was weird – I was confused.
Nathaniel was having breathing difficulties, but as best he could he told me the whole story of his recent sickness and how he got to the hospital. It became clear to me that he didn’t have a good conscience about being there. It was as if he had left the church or something. I talked to the elders and they said they had left him room to do what he wanted to do. They felt he had gone against their counsel by being at the hospital. The fact that he was so sick made it clear to him that the elders had made a mistake and that he had suffered all that in Island Pond for nothing. He felt he should have come to the hospital Friday night instead of suffering all weekend and elders encouraging him to “ride it out” had caused him a whole lot of suffering.
John Post came down on Tuesday and apologized to Nathaniel for having said that it wasn’t the Father’s will that he be in the hospital. John felt that all of Nathaniel’s complications was proof that he was wrong. He also said that if Nathaniel had followed his advice he would have died. He was glad Nathaniel had stepped out and gone to the hospital. Somehow, I wasn’t “glad,” and John’s repentance really troubled me. I talked with him and so did Michael Morgan but John continued to feel his faith had been presumption.
Nathaniel wanted me to talk to Michael and Charles and get it cleared up. He felt they too, had been wrong, but wanted them to agree so that he could somehow get peace in the hospital. After several days of talking about it, the elders concluded that Nathaniel had misunderstood what they were saying. They had only meant to advise him and support him in whatever faith he had – not forbid him to go which he felt they had said, and which he went against. Charles and Michael went to see him on Thursday and released Nathaniel and tried to give him a good conscience. Rose went down on Friday and she and Nathaniel had a hard day. She was hopeless and negative and bombarded Nathaniel with how bad the kids were doing etc. She came home and told me about it saying Nathaniel was really suffering in his spirit.
I wanted to go see him on the Sabbath, but Lloyd went instead. He found Nathaniel in the “pits” – hopeless, faithless. Lloyd felt that Nathaniel was responsive to encouragement, and felt he was okay and came home to break bread.
According to a nurse on duty, Saturday morning Nathaniel was depressed, and said he felt he was getting weaker every day. He died suddenly at 12:55 p.m. from massive cardio-pulmonary arrest. Tom Wall and I were in the music room in the Block talking to Rose (actually rebuking her) for how she had gone so unprepared in her spirit the Friday before and how she had so depressed Nathaniel etc. As we were right in the thick of it, Joellen called me out of the room and told me Nathaniel had died.
I just wanted to try to tell you how I felt about it all, Elbert, and try to make a conclusion from all this. It seems to me that Nathaniel’s will is where he was defeated. I think mentally he wanted to make it and change. But maybe the effect of the world was too great on him – he was too damaged somehow to be able to pull out of the nose dive he was in – too set in his ways. I don’t know about this. I felt that our Father knew this – the wreck really changed Nathaniel. We all saw his heart and had hope in that. But somehow, he did not have or would not receive the grace or strength he needed to bring about a change.
I think he was a son, and I feel he was confident enough in that fact that he died in peace. He said before going into his last surgery, he was ready to die. I believe him. But it doesn’t seem to me that he fully realized how much all that his gifting could have blessed Messiah. And somehow I feel we will suffer because part of our body had to be amputated, instead of getting well. Anyway, that’s it. If you feel I’m trying to figure it out, just tell me so. It’s like I needed to tell you all this. I feel better. It’s been pretty hard on me, though I tend to have a lot of outward composure.
I would like to tell you more about the burial or something later. I’m too emotionally strung out now to go on. I would love to see you some day. Yesterday we got rid of all of Nathaniel’s stuff (gave it to those who had need). Rose is being cared for – mostly by Joellen. Joellen, I think, has a gift of compassion and she loves to care for those who are suffering. Well, I must go. I love you so much. Thank you for your life. I love Yahshua also so much and the wonderful salvation I have been brought into.
P.S. Later Wednesday night. There was a couple of other things that I was thinking about this whole thing. At the time it bothered me a lot that Nathaniel just went to the hospital against the advice of his brothers. Somehow, whether they were presumptuous or not, they had said that Yahweh didn’t want Nathaniel to have to go back to the hospital. Someone that was connected is in grace (at least I feel this – I know that someday probably I will be tested on this). Someone in communion would have at least called back the elders and said “Look I want to go to the hospital – what do you think?” So that they could have been “sent out,” or under the protection of the angels. But Nathaniel was somehow not in our hands. When I talked to him in the hospital he told me that “us guys” up in Island Pond didn’t really realize that he was really a sick guy the last two months and we kept just expecting him “to get well quick.” He said that the next time he had a stomach pain, he was coming to the hospital right away.
Looking back, I see that the hospital couldn’t save Nathaniel. I think it would have been a whole lot better that he would have died in the Maple’s having been receiving from his presumptuous elders, and being full of faith in his God. Then again, if he didn’t have the faith to trust, at least he could have sought a good conscience. It was just all kind of indicative of his general condition – not a lot of faith.
Not too many people know of this drift of things with Nathaniel. Most people thought he was doing well. The week before he died, I was careful to not let out my negative feelings and question, but I did go to Nun a few hours after we got the news and I told him how I was feeling.
Having never had a funeral before, we didn’t know what to do. Nathaniel’s parents, both divorced and remarried were there. They were sobbing without hope. It was a very hard thing to not fall into the only funeral pattern we knew, and made a saint out of Nathaniel. “He was a good ole boy.” There was quite a bit of singing and some prophecy about the resurrection.
Nathaniel’s folks left after being in town a total of one hour, and they flew back to Georgia. Phineas and Bill Johnson and Jerry Pimpare built the casket. It was pretty snazzy looking. The hospital was very cooperative with us. We asked that they not do an autopsy and they didn’t. We went down about 10:00 a.m. the next morning and got his body. I was a pretty gruesome task. I know our God gave us grace. We got all the necessary paperwork and registered the death and all that stuff.
I wanted to say that I don’t think we made a saint out of him. We did proclaim that he was a son, and that we would be rejoined with him. Most of the church was there at the burial. After prayer, most of the people started leaving, and the men let the casket down into the hole and covered it up as Rose and most of us close to him watched. I feel that we all had peace – no loud wailing, but lots cried some. Perhaps some day, Yahweh will speak to me or us about all this.
*** Although this letter did not have a title, I, (the editor) took the liberty to give it one