The first picture on the website of me, with the juice box in my hands and the piece of grass between my teeth, is from my first day of chemo. The first day of chemo was a wild day. I want to tell you the story but first let me ask you a question. Have you ever had days where you felt like you were blind folded and Jesus (or some other holy benevolent being who loves you and wants good things for you but is also a little crazy and not afraid of anything) had you by the hand and started running through a maze, while you did your best just to keep up and not let go, listen with all your being? I know that is a bit specific but that was how my first day of chemo felt. Anyone else ever feel that way?
It was a gorgeous day. I was up early to pray and meditate. (You know how you have a certain way of dribbling the ball before you shoot from the top of the key or before you serve in volleyball? Or tap the goal posts of the net? Or the way you wrap the rope for wakeboarding or waterskiing? Prayer and meditation does that for me. It grounds and focuses me. It makes me ready for whatever is coming and I’ve got to do it every day.)
Firstly, my brother Brian came over early to put new spring tires on the car, wash, and detail it. It feels so good to have things in order and a tool well tuned at the ready.
Soon after, my longtime friend, Kimberly, came over with treats and medicine. The day had hardly begun and I was surrounded by love in action.
Then, Bernie and James came to take me to Southlake. We had a great time. We listened to one of my favourite books – Lamb by Christopher Moore. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read and it made me love Jesus even more. The time in the clinic was exhausting, but was made lighter by easy company and a good book.
They sent me home with a chemo treatment box, to slowly drip for a couple of days. Someone, perhaps many people, lovingly knit little bags for “juice box” of chemo. A simple, sweet thing that made me feel like someone had been through this before and they were willing to share their tricks. Somehow the little box of poison that is going to be a part of healing me did not feel so threatening in its little knitted bag.
Part way through the day, I mentioned to Bernie that we should stop by my favourite place to hike on the way home. From the top you can see all the way to Bond Head to the North and the rolling hills of Caledon to the West.
We stopped on our way home to run a couple of errands. I was tired and I didn’t actually feel like a hike but as we approached the turn I said to Bernie “We’ve got to turn here”. As we entered the parking lot there was a car that caught my attention. Something was odd about it. When I got out of the car, I could see what the issue was. It was running and someone had attached a hose to the tail pipe. I ran as fast and as low to the ground as I could and opened the front door of the car. Thank God it wasn’t locked. Then I booked it out of there. If she had just started the process of trying to kill herself, then I did not want her to come after us. Bernie ran to the top of the hill to get a signal and called 911. He crept to the car and could see that she wasn’t moving. As Bernie talked with the dispatcher I put myself at the ready to run and turned off the car. At his signal I crab-ran to the car, turned it off then ran back again (my little chemo box in my hand like a relay runners baton). Again, I urgently called to Bernie that I wanted to make sure she didn’t see us. It was clear to me that she had put a tremendous effort into her task and I did not want that energy to be transferred to us.
(If you are one of the kids in my church who comes up for the kids talk you will remember me teaching you how to cross yourself. (three fingers, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, put them together etc.) There are many times that you can use that spiritual tool and this was the perfect time for me to cross myself for divine protection.)
When the police arrived they opened the back door and she woke up immediately. She was angry and started filming the police officer with her phone. Clearly, there was still a lot of fight left in her.
As we stood on the road directing the rest of the emergency crew to the site a neighbour came strolling up, curious about the situation. I just said, “Someone’s sick”. She wanted to be alone in her pain and I didn’t think she would appreciate an audience. The neighbour then said to me “Aren’t you the priest from Schomberg?” I said, yes, and he proceeded to remind me of a time 5 years ago when I visited him and his family during a crisis and helped them through it. He said it changed their life. I had forgotten all about it. He hadn’t.
Then, my friends Sarah and Natasha came up the road with their beautiful dog. Sarah has been helping me heal and meditate and doing amazing energy work with me. I laughed when I saw that it was her coming up the road. Of course it would be Sarah! Perfect!
After the woman was taken to Southlake, Bernie and I had our hike and took in the view with renewed gratitude for the simple gift of breath and life in this day.
This Jesus dude seems to know what he’s up to, so I’m just gonna hold tight and try to stop screaming. Wish me luck!