Thursday, April 21, 2011

Breaking Through This Writer's Block

The evening was spent crying with my Mom as my Father stared quietly at the floor. Soon, as soon as the third week of May, they will be leaving for New York and the new life God has planned for them. When I say, "planned for them," I'm not referencing a recent occurrence. I believe that this move, this plan, has been in the works for years... if not centuries.

When my Mother retired in February the wait began. As a public employee in the state of Oregon she's part of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and will be, along with my Dad, relying on that retirement for the rest of her life. The "wait" is for the checks to begin paying out. It's a long and arduous process but they could see checks beginning as soon as the first of May. That first check will signal the beginning of the process. Of course, the plan is that once they're settled and have begun the new adventures, all well prayed about, that God has planned, they will return here at some point to see me off on the next leg of my journey. While that seems to be the ideal, there's a very good chance that when this ball gets rolling (the proverbial ball being the cancerous liver inside my torso) it may gain speed at an incredibly rapid pace, punch my ticket homeward, load my luggage and have me checked through Heaven-land Security before my parents can even log on to to receive the commercially promised help from Bill Shatner that we all dream of in the darkest recesses of our "trecker" mind.

The gist of it all is that when I say goodbye in May, or whenever the first check is received, it may be our actual, "Goodbye." There's nothing wrong with that. It has to happen eventually and I'd much rather have a goodbye moment than miss it altogether. It's just that as my body does begin to fail, something some may argue it's been doing since the age of thirteen or so, some of my realities become much more real.

Last week we met with a representative from Senior and Disabled Services (S&DS) to clarify my eligibility for Medicaid*. The questions she asked were reasonable. More than reasonable if one stops to consider how many people make their living defrauding the government and other agencies who provide such services. But as I answered question after question a pattern, an image even, began to appear. The occasional fall became "this many" falls per month. The odd memory lapse became a "pattern" of memory failure. The other day when I was a little dizzy became "regular spells of dizziness". (No matter how old I get, and I guess I won't get much older, I enjoy typing and using words that utilize the letter "z".) I suddenly went from, "I'm disabled. I know it because I have one of those blue things that hangs from my mirror for parking," to, "I'm disabled and will soon require regular supervision and care." The pattern, the image, formed a picture of me. With one glaring problem. I didn't recognize the guy in the picture. I guess it was clear to my wife who that man was. She's slowly seen the man she loves and married make the transformation. But, much like realizing you've gained fifty pounds in a year, I suddenly tried on last years bathing suit and found that nature had played a dirty trick.

This new image of myself has sent me, both emotionally and psychologically, cascading down the mountain-side - much like the horribly costumed stunt-people playing Wesley and Princess Buttercup in the "As... you... wish..." realization scene (after the abduction) of The Princess Bride. I'm having a very difficult time coming to grips with who I've become and how quickly, it seems, my future is about to become my present.

I am trying to fight. Mostly by getting out of the house as often as possible. There's been a lot of pain recently and that works wonderfully as a blockade. But I've been able to run the occasional errand with Kristin. I was also able to get out of the house and go to the monthly Relay for Life meeting with her on Wednesday night. There was more pride in my heart than usual, and that's saying something, for my wife that night as she managed to get us fourth in line for finding a tent spot for the actual Relay and a great spot for "curbing" (where our team will stand from 4pm-6pm at an intersection to collect money for our Relay for Life team). Kristin is fighting off quite a few of her own personal demons as of late. My situation hasn't helped at all. But Wednesday she managed to kick some booty! (We've been surprised to find that some of these teams are so competitive that the competition becomes more important than the cause. It's, fortunately, not the norm. But still, it's disconcerting.)

So pray for Kristin and I, as we battle our own depressions and bill collectors. It's not going to get easier for either one of us any time soon. But we are fighting. We are choosing joy at every chance and in every way we can find. Pray for my parents as they're torn between the need to start their new life and the pain of leaving me here for a while.

God continues to keep providing. Just this week we finally heard back from Bridge Assistance (a division within PeaceHealth which helps people pay who can't afford to) and they're going to cover quite a bit of my hospital costs starting back into 2010. Now if we can get approved for Medicaid that will allow for some much needed in-home assistance, giving Kristin the occasional break or ability to shop for groceries, hopefully we will continue to find the brighter side of this valley where Jesus walks beside of us.

God is good. My parents are about to become a bigger part of a family that God has slowly been merging them with over the past two years. I know that they'll be appreciated and loved. Corey, Jon and the kids are about to be blessed beyond what they can probably recognize. I wish I could watch it all happen. Heck, I wish I could be a part of it. I guess I have been. There's a similarity of Moses and the promised land, though the only comparison I have to Moses is a short temper and inability to follow directions properly, I feel like I'm getting to see this all from afar, from the mountain top. But I won't be able to enter "the valley" of this new family that God's putting together. It's not, I don't think, because I've sinned in some way. It's just not how God planned it. I am privileged to have seen what's happening from the rocks above. I know God has a similarly miraculous plan for Kristin and her life.

Looking at all that, it's hard to reason how I could find any way to be depressed. And maybe, after this blog, I'll find more roads out.

It's time for me to sign off. I'll leave you with a re-post of the "upcoming" things from my blog the other day. Please keep them in mind as each is important to me. Important enough that I'd ask you each to come personally if I could. God bless you all.

*Just to clarify, you're not confused. Those of you who've been following closely will remember that we were told by every state and federal agency, including S&DS who's helping us now, that I would not be eligible, barring complete renal failure, for any kind of Medicare or Medicaid until I had been legally considered disabled for two full years. Meaning the earliest possibility would be December of 2011. It seems, however, that there are certain words, when used in certain contexts and by the proper person, presumably wearing the appropriate robes, which have the ability to call Medicaid from the Heavens. I will say no more on the subject as to avoid angering the Medi-Gods who linger at the top of the nearby misty mountain. Just clarifying... you have not gone insane. (Though I am very close.)

This Sunday is Easter Sunday, or as I prefer to refer to it, Resurrection Sunday! Our church is having a very different service. At 10:30 on Sunday we'll be having a celebration feast. Families and friends eating and singing together. It's an important day for me because I'm celebrating the greatest thing God every did for me. It's also important for a second reason... I've prayed and asked God, many times since the cancer, to let me do scripted theater one more time before I go home. Sunday I'll be doing a one-man piece, a monologue, of Peter (Jesus' disciple) after the crucifixion. It's a very moving piece. One I've done before. But it will probably be my last chance to do any scripted theater.

A quick little "Easter Duck" I drew. 'Cause, to be honest, the Easter "Bunny" never really made a lot of sense to me. I don't care what the Cadbury people say.
So, please, if you have no other plans this Sunday morning please come and join us! It's highly unlikely you'll be preached at... after all, you just got that here about four inches ago. But you can come, sing, eat free food and have a really good time. There's even an egg hunt afterwards for kids!

We meet every Sunday in the gym at the far end of Kelly Middle School in Eugene.

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Then on Monday, May 16th we're doing one more Papa's Pizza fundraiser at the Coburg Road Papa's Pizza in Eugene. Papa's provides a wonderful service to the community with their fundraising opportunities. The Aaron M. Jamison Pre-Memorial Foundation is hosting one more event in order to attempt one more run at paying down bills. The lower the debt I leave Kristin with, the less stress I have. The less stress I have, the more I can deal with everything else on my plate. (And some of those things are brussel-sprouts.)
In order to participate/help-out you'll need a flyer, which you can get by clicking here. Bring in a flyer to the Coburg Road location any time from open (11am) to close (Midnight) on Monday, May 16th, order food to go, to eat in or enjoy their fabulous lunch pizza bar and half of the money you pay for your food goes to help with our bills. Or, you can bring in the flyer (during the same time period and date) and use it to purchase some special gift certificates where 25% of the money helps us out. Either way we'd really appreciate it.

If you're on Facebook, you can find the event by clicking here.

Finally, in spite of my promise last October that I was performing my final improv comedy show, there may be another one in the works. My wife is heading up our Relay for Life team this year and we're trying to put together a family friendly improv show on either Friday, July 8th or Saturday, July 9 to raise more money for our team and the American Cancer Society.

So if you're looking for the opportunity to go out and laugh with the whole family, keep checking back! Because I think this is really going to happen!

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