In my estimation, he has been elevated, and could you understand Dustin’s entire history you would likely agree with me. Let me tell you a little of his story.
Some time ago, Dustin Halliday’s father Daniel had a heart attack, an episode that left him with significant brain impairment. He cannot talk. He does not open his eyes. His hands are clenched, his feet are curled. For many months Daniel was treated in a VA hospital, and it was during those times that Dustin often begged to have his father released to him. Dustin wanted to care personally for his father.
A couple of weeks ago, the dream was realized. Now, on a hospital bed in Dustin and Misty’s living room lies Daniel. On the front door is a warning sign: Oxygen in use. Daniel is totally dependent on others; he can do nothing for himself. Someone else is responsible for his feeding, his medication, his bathing–his very breath. At times, others in the family lovingly tend Daniel, but the preponderance of his care comes from Dustin.
Daniel bleeds, and in the long, dark nights, Dustin tends him. He lifts his father’s legs, arranges the cloths, then pulls snug the tabs. His is a life-watch, a death-watch. It is of antiquity, of creation, of beginnings and endings. More often than not, though, throughout history, women have been those who people such a room.
I visited a few days ago. Dustin stood near the top of the hospital bed. I watched as he lifted his hand and caressed the slick head of his father. Dustin’s handsome face was a study in grief; marble chiseled by a master, canvass plied with dark and heavy strokes. Tears cascaded down his face. Tender. He ran his hand over the face of his father.
Dustin is not a man of softness. As is true for many people, his has been a life of challenge and of extreme grief. He has responded in a manly, strong way. Tonight, as his father nears the inevitable crossing place that leads from this life into that of another world, Dustin delicately ministers to his father. With love, he watches and washes and prays. His is a face of beauty.
Dustin Halliday, you are a prince.