One of my favorite songs ever is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I have so many memories of when it was played or sang at a memorable part of my life. It was played at my grandparent’s 50th anniversary and also it was the father/daughter dance song at our wedding. Each time I have heard it in the past, it has made me turn my head away and choke back the tears. It was because I could feel a lifetime of emotion flow from the people that it was being played for. It was beautiful and painful at the same time. For the past year, I have been playing “Iz’s” version on my ukulele. When I sing and play it I don’t cry or choke back the tears like the other times. I am not sure what the difference is but the only thing that I can think of is the words of the song remind me of a better place. A place without pain, without fear and doubt, a place that makes me almost forget the situation I am in. I am stuck without a solid treatment, prognosis and in tremendous pain most days.
People along the way have been trying to reassure me that “it will pass one day” and I thought yes (one way or another), or I also hear so many people telling me to try this and that, and this and that and it goes on forever. I take it in like gas burning under the hood of a quiet car and me trying not to stomp on the gas tearing off in the other direction. Lately though, I have been trying so many different things because I feel abandoned by all of my doctors except for Dr. Sellers. Nobody has answers and nobody has time to find out what is going on. Thoughts of death have coursed through my mind and a terrible feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing. But I keep thinking that I have so much to live for under the rainbow. I am not ready for death, life in a wheelchair or a slow painful declining life. We have gone from having our own house, to having to sell it for a whopping loss, to now moving in with Mary’s parent’s at the beginning of March. All the while, my view of everything has been mostly from a bed and every once in a while a few hours out on a good day. It has felt like a circling drain for the past few years that lately has turned more into the speed of a well-conditioned toilet.
This past week things changed. We are still moving to Beckley, West Virginia with Mary’s parents, I am still in the same declining state, but I am no longer alone. I requested that Dr. Sellers run an MRI of my brain and my entire spine. He was a little resistant at first but he did it out of respect for my situation. The results were something more than what we expected and may prove that if I have open back surgery I might be able to improve my situation. But it is pure speculation at this point. What has given me more life this past week is that Mary and our good friend Kristin Turney Jones made a secret pact to be my advocate. They are coming after my doctors with controlled abandon. Not reckless as you would expect when there is anger and resentment involved, but they have mapped out a master plan that basically says “Doctors, man up with a plan or we are seeking other help”. I have been trying for over two years to get me “fixed”. Now I have people that are well, energetic and sincere in their mission to gather the truth whatever it may be, for better or worse.
This feels like a turning point for some reason. It feels like a defining point that I will look back at one day and say this was the week that changed my point of view on life, the meaning of suffering and helping those that have lost their voice to help themselves. A few weeks ago, Mary and I saw a movie called “Marwencal” to support our good friends David Naugle and Rachel Ibarra. David is actually in the movie and is responsible for changing the main character’s life. David is the whisper that opened the floodgates. It all began with David just stopping and recognizing someone suffering and bringing in others to help. David was instrumental to helping this man begin to let go of the past and celebrate his artistic talents. David was not mind blind to the man’s situation, emotions and feelings. David looked past the tattered shell of the man before him and bent down to give him both hands in help and healing.
Many people have their “Marwencal” moment, their turning point in their lives that forever changes how they feel, hear and see the world. I remember my uncle Edsel’s “Marwencal”. It took a tragic farming accident to where he lost both arms in a grueling equipment accident to change his life and the path he was on. Some people have a “Marwencal” moment and never really notice it. For others, it is something that is visually and intellectually apparent. Maybe this last week was my “Marwencal”. We shall see. I say that because I haven’t lived my whole life yet and I am still in the same place that I was the week before, but with just with a twinkle of new hope. If this is my moment, I am not sure what I am going to do if I get somewhat better. I have thought of having a small organic farm, doing missions and even just working here and there where my heart leads me. The less money that I have, the clearer my vision for what is needed here on earth is. And it is a long, hard and difficult vision to deal with. But I think that Bono framed it best when he said, “but the one thing we can all agree, all faiths, all ideologies; is that God is with the vulnerable and the poor; God is in the slums in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house; God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives; God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war; God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives. And God is with us if we are with them.” Look for his vision on www.one.org and even if you are not a Bono “fan” you can’t help but feel the sincerity of his message given that he has been given great wealth and he gives great wealth, influence and time to help where he can.
Sometimes it takes disaster to bring people to know each other and love one another sometimes. I truly hope that people around me know that I love them and God loves them before they leave me. Love is stronger than hate and love breaks down barriers. I just wonder why it sometimes takes a disaster to meet people where they are at, somewhere under the rainbow. It is difficult for the giver and the receiver of a gift or help that you think you don’t deserve. There is that awkward moment and also you feel an inner barrier break down, a freedom arises that you can only feel when a need is met that you have no power to fill; and someone, by the grace of God, opens their heart to your needs and fills them. If you are given influence, use it!!