Gandhi once said, "If you don't find God in the next person you meet, then you need look no further". I have thought about this quote for years. I meet so many people. Some kind hearted, some greedy, some hide their true heart while others wear their heart on their sleeves. I try to find at least a little bit of God in everyone that I meet. And I believe that to find God in the next person you meet you must meet them with kindness, humility and forgiveness even if they have yet to wrong you. Because we will all fall short of the expectations of God so don't look for God in the next person you meet but look for the spirit of God. Even if you find just pieces, you will find fuel for your spirit to keep on going.
This past week I went to visit my dad in Jesup, Georgia. Over the past six years his health has been skating on thin ice due to the end stages of diabetes and the toll it has taken on his body. Two years ago he almost died from heart failure. There have been a few scares in between. Last week he was in the hospital because he was not getting enough oxygen. Last year he had a massive stroke that has really taken the fight out of him. When I visited my dad the past week, I feel in my heart that I said my final goodbye to him. He has given up. He has lost his fighting spirit that has made him the man that I am today and why I fight so hard to stay on this earth to change it. I played my guitar for him which always makes him smile. This time he just looked down and stared at the table. It really broke my spirit and also fueled my passion to live for my family.
There was one time that my father did smile. As I was lying at his bedside the last night I was there, my father told me that he has started to see angels at his bedside. It has happened more than once. As he described each incident in great detail, he smiled as if he was William again. But I didn't see a fighter, I saw a man ready to go on to the next life and leave this life of suffering. As I have said before, death is not the most painful part of life, especially for the suffering. My uncle Warren died a few years ago from cancer. In his final weeks and days, he saw angels the same as my father. This should disturb me greatly that my father's demise is so close, but in some strange way it comforts me. He has fought long and hard. He has been such a great man and has made such an impact to every person that he has met. I am sad to see him leave me, but I am happy that his spirit will be free.
While I was in Jesup, I spoke at my mom and dad's church. I spoke about my disease and also about how we need to change the focus in our lives away from money, wealth and prosperity to helping one another and changing this world. As I spoke about Behcet's the people were fascinated. No one quite understands the disease. Even most people that treat the disease struggle with what it is doing to me and what it is. When my cousin's wife Nikki talks of her fight with cancer, people understand cancer. Cancer is such a diverse enemy, but the concept people understand. They support it financially better as well because they can understand it. As I go around talking about Behcet's and how it affects my life, I want people to know that it is not just about the disease, it is about life and how you can change your life and other people's lives without having to go through such a dreaded disease. I often feel like a panhandler when I do these talks. I have done two so far. They wipe me out the next two days afterwards but I feel that it is what I can do right now to help people understand my struggle, help my family and also help change the world.
My disease progressed quite a bit while I was home in Jesup. I expected this. Seeing my family struggle with the uncertainty of death and struggle financially really takes a toll on my stress levels. And stress progresses my disease at a faster rate. I played a great song for a crowd of over 300 people last Sunday. I wasn't nervous. I was upset that Behcet's has started attacking my forearms and hands. They have swelled to twice their size and the pain is unspeakable. Before I played Sunday I said a short prayer. I said, "God, I know you didn't cause this to happen, but can you give me relief for just a few minutes so that I can play this song". I had no pain playing the song. After the song, the pain made up for the short break. So I am faced with excruciating pain in my hands. This keeps me from playing guitar and piano, it keeps me from the things I love. It keeps me from writing the blog. But I will be damned if I will let this stop me from doing the things I love. I enjoy speaking to people, writing my blog and writing/playing music. These are the only things left in my life that I am able to do on my own. If you take two of the three away then I am going to have to be one hell of a speaker to make up for it. Hopefully, the doctors can find a way to get this out of my hands. For now, I will ice them down, wear my hand wraps and keep doing things painfully wrong for my hands but good for my soul.
I am still humbled by so many people supporting us with their time and money. We still need more but I am so grateful for what we have been given so far. More fundraisers will be coming in the next couple of months to help with our living expenses but there is also something else that I will be creating. People have asked how they can help and sometimes people can get things that we need better than financially giving to us. I have started on our needs page which outlines some of the ideas that we have for trying to support our family and also to help continue with my musical therapy. Of course feeding the family and covering our expenses comes first, but if these things can be given along the way that would be incredible.
Here is where our new needs page is: http://www.andybarwick.com/needs
There are many angels around us both human and in waiting. I see God in so many of each of you. Please stay strong with me as we all make our way through this life.