I didn't want the most recent "newsworthy" British kid to be born on July 23. I didn't want to share that day with him. By reviewing my blog posts of 2009, I was reminded July 23 was the day my stem cells "came home." The good folks in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit consider it "your second birthday."
On July 24, I was looking for something in my armoire and I came across a bag with a couple of the masks pictured above. I used them when I stepped outside to travel back and forth to post transplant follow up appointments.
I saw on Facebook today that it was the birthday of the nurse who assisted during my transplant. The folks I know who met her knew she was one of those nurses who were a perfect match to my "cleverness" and wit.
She's a great soul, who is still doing what she does and when I see her, she is the same fun and intelligent soul I got to meet and know.
I am beyond the drama and trauma of 4 years ago, but every now and then, when the wind is right, I can resurrect some of what it felt like. Not in an excessive way, but more in a, "Ah yes, I remember that" kind of way. Then, I move on.
Someone I know recently said, "I think Greg has moved on beyond his experience." In some ways, yes I have. In others, I haven't. I am comfortable with the balance of the two. The things I haven't moved beyond are the things that I recall when someone needs my help working through their cancer experience.
The things I haven't let go of cause me to use the following opening when asked to share my experience with "the alien."
I say, "Had you told me 5 years ago that in the span of less than two years that I would be hugged incessantly, have meals made for me and delivered to me, have my laundry done for me, have my house cleaned top to bottom, would have been kissed on the cheek by a Hollywood actress (yes, there were witnesses) and get to spend a weekend in the woods with nurses, I would have said, "Sign me up. Just tell me what I need to do!"
What I like most about the experience is that once the physical stuff was over, there was, and still is, time to process what happened emotionally and mentally. I did not suddenly become mentally and emotionally stable, nor am I anywhere near it. However, I think I have made peace with some of the "big puzzlements."
If I've said it before, forgive me, but I expected to step into Hell when, by myself, I wheeled my luggage down the corridor from the admitting area to the Bone Marrow Unit. I know that from my time spent there, I received a glimpse into Heaven. Into God's Kingdom on this earth. The earth that was created, and when it was created, "it was good."
The good is still there and I don't believe we have to get all mystical to see it. I now raise my eyebrows to anyone who thinks that all of this was created to, like a child bored with the structure they have built with building blocks, be destroyed one day.
Instead, I think this place is like a compromised immune system, that is given building blocks in order to restore it back to what it was intended to be.
I know that my view of heaven may not be as fantastic as that of Eben Alexander or Colton Burpo, but to me it is more real and calls us to help build it rather than win it as a prize.
“We see a newborn moth unwrapping itself and announce, Look, children, a miracle! But let an irreversible wound be knit back to seamlessness? We won't even see it, though we look at it every day.”
Leif Enger - "Peace Like A River"