Moor Peace

Exit the elevator, sign in. Wait. Young woman in dark blue calls my name and directs me to a dimly lit room with a vinyl, paper-covered bed, an indescribable medical device on wheels by its side. This gel is cold, sorry. Take a deep breath and hold it. There’s my kidney on the screen– large, black holes visible. You don’t have to be an expert to know that isn’t right (I’m guessing it’s urine that hasn’t drained). She stuffs paper around my jeans and moves the device to my pelvis. Same drill: deep breath and hold. She pauses and measures an unnatural looking mass in the bladder. We both know what it is but we remain silent. She’s a sonographer not a doctor.

Get dressed. Take this plastic cup. There are the restrooms. Wait here. Mr Weatherly? Take this room and have a seat. The usual interview from a medical assistant in light blue. Blood pressure is elevated. Is this drug list correct? A nurse practitioner will be with you shortly. Door opens and closes.

A dangerous amount of alone time.

I close my eyes and pray and search for peace. I know it is inside me somewhere but where is it? I need it now. Jesus.

Head in hands, I search through the fog and find myself on a boat trying to dock in choppy water. The bow of the boat is moored firmly, committed to and secure in my faith. I’m not going anywhere, but the stern drifts and the boat rocks. My motor runs. I turn the engines and push the back towards the dock. I’ve seen this done many times on sight-seeing boat trips…tie off the front of the boat and then turn the engines toward the dock and push the throttle. Slowly, stubbornly, the stern pushes toward the dock–it has no where else to go. Once the boat is flush to the dock, engine running to maintain position, all that is needed is to hitch to the cross-shaped cleat for security–but the fog. The engine churns; I’m trying too hard to find peace. I need help. I search the stern to see if help is asleep there. I turn my head hoping to find help standing right beside me at the helm. I hold the rope, searching the fog for help to catch the rope as I throw it and hitch it so I can cut the engine and rest.

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LordHis heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. (Psalm 112: 6- 8)

Knock-knock, the N.P. in white coat enters with a heavy lightness.

Mr. Weatherly, the mass has grown and is still blocking the ureter. Your creatinine is still elevated. We will need to divert the ureter with a nephrostomy.

I was preparing myself for this, but my thinking-self drifts outside of my body to watch me attempt to respond to her.

OK is about all I can remember.

[blah blah blah blah blah take this upfront and the scheduler blah blah blah blah get you a time for the procedure blah blah blah blah blah sorry blah blah blah take care blah blah blah wait here.]

More waiting.

I’ve been to Decatur twice in the past year. Last time was after the death of a friend’s father. The ride home alone with my wife resulted in the post Journey, a reflection on my marriage to the woman I’ve spent the greater part of my life trying to make laugh. On Friday night, we spent the evening in Decatur to listen to Sandra McCracken play at Eddie’s Attic and have dinner with our dear friends David and Katy. Sandra sang with sincerity despite laryngitis, periodically looking over her shoulder to find support or to provide the necessary key changes to the keyboardist, who she revealed was her new husband of 3 months.

Kim and I are familiar with the story of Sandra’s bitter and difficult divorce from her first marriage, with whom she has a daughter. Sandra engages the crowd to sing; it is a church service in the middle of Babylon. What are the folks who are waiting at the bar just outside this hushed room for the next act thinking about these vocal Christians singing fervently inside their mecca for folky, secular music? I hear my wife sniffle several times, too frequently for any reason other than the flow of tears. I try not to look, but love is exchanged in glances, and I turn as if checking my blind spot. And she glances back with swollen, watery eyes, the thin, slate-colored line drawn under them gripping hard not to run. I know without her saying anything. It isn’t the music; it isn’t the spiritual emotion filling the venue; it was a healing Sandra singing with a loving husband behind her. A second husband.

Life after extraordinary pain. Peace found. Sandra moored in a new place and praising God all the way.

We’re always wondering if the latest bad news is the beginning of the end. Kim tells me to not think ahead, to stay in the moment, to stay in the moment, focus on the immediate.

The immediate is a scheduled nephrostomy on Friday. A second bag, this one with urine from one of my kidneys; it’s business as usual for the other.

Next week is a trip to Italy. We’re going all over the place. My tireless, spirited mother is sparing no expense to treat us. Mom, Rick (her sig-other), my sister, my wife, and me (brother-in-law can’t make it because of his own difficult story, which breaks our hearts). We’re calling this the trip of a lifetime. I will be on that plane, dammit.

I met an elderly woman at a senior living facility last night. She just turned 101. That’s like me starting my life all over again, reaching today, and still having 5 more years to go. Unbelievable. Lifetime is definitely a relative term. The trip to Italy may very well be the trip of my lifetime.

I think it is time to say it and face it. The mass is growing again and I don’t know what we’ll do next. I called my medical team in Nashville and spoke to a nurse with whom I’ve grown somewhat close these past two years. I wanted so much for her to tell me not to worry, that they’ve got a plan, but she wouldn’t or couldn’t say much.

So, I sat down to write these thoughts out of my mind. I put on Matthew Ryan’s May Day album and the first song, “Guilty”, plays as I type. He ends it like this:

I need someone to save me, someone to save me
I need someone to save me, someone to save me
I need someone to save me, someone to save me
I need someone to say to me everything is gonna be alright.

Medical Assistants, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Physician’s Assistants, Doctors– they can’t promise to save me or tell me everything will be alright. Unsubstantiated encouragement, what some might simply call hope, might be malpractice.

My mom and my sister would say or do anything to save me and hope with all the life in them that everything will be alright. The scripture above says one day we will look in triumph over our foes. That sounds like everything alright. But for them I bet the foe is cancer. For me the foe is fear.

I hate that my engine churns so strongly to find a peace that is offered freely and openly, I hate that I search through cloudy thoughts for someone to catch my rope that I throw like a life line. I need to hear voices from the shore calling me in, offering help, reminding me of hope. Peace doesn’t come easy for a man scarred by a past of atheism.

Funny thing, though. I texted my pastor/friend/near-brother Jared from the clinic this morning to tell him the news. It was 9:26. I drove home in a daze and started writing this post, and then he called me. At 10:26. That number again. The meaningless encouragement that somehow calms the engines. We fight on.

God bless.

Brent

** Note: The featured image is of the boat at Disney’s Tom Sawyer island demonstrating the front tie off, keep the motor running technique…

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Nancy Lester says:

    Brent, I just know you will be on that plane for your trip to Italy. We love you and are grateful that you share your “stories” with us. May God look after you.

    Love,
    Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tammy Andros says:

    Press on Brent. Everything IS gonna be all right. (I have no fear of malpractice lawsuits!) Have a great time in Italy with the ones you love. God bless.

    Like

  3. Susan Ledbetter says:

    We love you!!! Will continue to pray God-bro!!!!

    Like

  4. Elaine says:

    Stay strong! Like Kim says, live in the present! Stay focused on your upcoming trip! You’re always in our prayers! Love you

    Like

  5. Tony Dittmeier says:

    To quote the movie Tombstone, “I don’t have the words.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Grateful for the time you take to share your words and truth. Hopeful for health but most for the nearness for the Lord to be felt and leaned on in spite of the foe, fear. We continue to pray.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dave says:

    Love you man. Follow the sun to Italy and enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Todd and Jenna Elliott says:

    Brent, the Elliotts continue to pray for you and your family. You all are dear to us. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Donna Izer says:

    Brent, I appreciate your honesty in your two stories. Your faith and strength during this journey could only be from the love of your family and friends as well as your personal relationship with God your Father. God knows your story and is preparing you for whatever you may need. I will continue to pray for the peace you need to get each day! Love you

    Like

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