The Healing Trip Part 19

From My Journal Dated Tuesday August 6, 2019:

I rearranged the den last night in preparation for the hospital bed. Threw away two large bags of old paperbacks, magazines, and what nots. Hauled the furniture where the bed will go into other rooms. Nearly killed myself doing that. I also climbed on top of the step stool and wiped down the top of the fridge . . . three times, in fact.

Men . . . what they know about cleaning . . . but why I thought it so important on this night eludes me.

Those old paperbacks and magazines and whatnots were Mother's. Dusty and yellowed or broken. Why had he kept all this stuff after so many years?

By the time I went to bed, after a long hot shower, I was so exhausted, I hardly knew my name.

5:15 p.m.: Van still hasn't had the thorasentesis. If he doesn't by 6:00, I will need to leave here to get home at a decent hour, but I don't want to do that. I don't want him to have the procedure alone. Cousin Nancy came by the hospital today, took me to lunch at 5 Spot around the corner. It has quickly become a favorite place. Fried green tomatoes.

Afterward, the three of us--Nancy, Van, and I--created a contest with the winner receiving a lifesaver from Van's stash that I have kept close by for him. Something to keep the bad taste out of his mouth. Something to add a little sweet to his life. Nancy predicts 1.6 liters will be removed, I'm going for 1.3. Van said 2.0. Then we waited for the team.

Later: Nancy won. She took a green lifesaver as her reward.

Earlier today I received text messages from Kathleen (a nurse), Bob (a nurse), Carla (a nurse), JoBeth (a nurse) and a conversation with Nancy (a nurse) . . . all expressing concern at me taking Van home for hospice care. I admit, I'm concerned, too, but Van is driving the bus and he wants to go home. Haven't I said that all along? I ran into Van's social worker in the hallway and expressed my concern. She got on the phone with Ogeechee Hospice in Statesboro, then later looked in on us. Seeing Van asleep, she motioned for me to come into the hallway. She said, "I talked to Brenda at Ogeechee Hospice and she wants to know if James Purvis is Van Purvis. I told her that, yes, my brother's given name is James LaVance but everyone knows him as Van. Cheryl (the social worker) said, "Brenda said they went to school together. She said to tell you she was Brenda Scott . . . " I nodded. I had graduated with her sister, she had graduated with Van. Cheryl expressed how upset Brenda was to hear that Van was the patient. All I could think was "We'll form a club."

"Do they have a room?" I asked.

"They do," she said. "Now all you have to do is convince your brother to go there."

I returned to the room to find Van awake. I sat in a chair opposite him and said, "There are quite a few people concerned about us being alone at the house."

He said, "I've been thinking about that . . . I'm wondering how you feel about me going to Ogeechee Hospice."

I smiled. "I'm already on it," I said.

I went back to the social worker's office and told her all systems were "go."

When I returned to my brother's room, I sat in my usual chair, near the sink. He called my name and I looked up. Took in his face, so thin, so gaunt. His skin, nearly translucent. He is only the shell of the man he'd been only a few weeks earlier. His breathing was slow. Easy. As if he were calculating his next words. And then he said, "I'm still believing for a miracle."

"Good," I said. "Good."


It was in this place . . . it was on this day . . .

So much had happened up until now. Western Ireland. Eastern Ireland. Northern Ireland. The Carrick-a-Rede Bridge. The city of Belfast.

A day in Scotland. A good night's sleep. Tea and eggs benedict in the morning.

A meeting at the Eric Liddell Centre.

First one cab ride. Then another. Shuttles and planes and trains . . . and it was in this place. On this day that it happened.

After leaving the Eric Liddell Centre, Clare and I returned to Angel Share Hotel to begin our Second Afternoon in Edinburgh Adventure. We slipped in and out of shops, purchasing in some, not in others. We went to the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, a real treat. We went to the The Elephant House where J. K. Rowling was not only inspired but wrote notes on a napkin that would later translate to her Harry Potter phenomenon. Clare and I met up with David and Diane there, we all had decadent coffees and something equally sweet to eat. Then, after writing our own inspirations on napkins, we set off again. More shops. More purchases. More laughs. Another pub for tea where I sat outside and listened to four men speaking an English I couldn't make out for love or money.

We gathered around a bagpipe player who stood in front of some shops on Victoria Street and listened to the music of the Scottish ages with a crowd of folks who clapped appropriately.

Then we walked back to the top of that hill boasting the castle to the Tartan Weaving Mill. More shopping.

The weather was delightful. Cool and crisp and inviting. I walked along as though I were flying. Or, more precisely, skipping. Though not in reality. That would look silly.

As our time was running out, we headed back down the hill toward the hotel. The plan was to meet Diane and David for dinner, then we'd take the train back to the airport . . . a plane back to Ireland.

We headed down Lothian Road, past the Parish Church of St. Cuthbert where we had been the day before, then came upon the Church of St. John the Evangelist on the corners of Lothian and Princes Streets. The doors were opened. A steady stream of visitors milled in one door, out the other. I looked up and over the stonework. The spires. The blue and white and aqua flag slapping at the air high above, front and center, over the tower appearing to be a man puffing his chest. So proud. So bold. So regal.

I turned back in the direction of the hotel. To the street's hustle and bustle. Then stopped. Looked over my shoulder at the church again.

"Do you want to go in?" Clare asked.

"I do," I said, although I wasn't sure why. I only knew that something called to me from within and I felt I had to obey that call. And so we did.

And we took a seat. Me in one pew, all alone. Clare behind me, all alone. Around us the piped-in organ music moved all of those who sat within the hushed walls of the sanctuary. Myself included. Some prayed. Others took photos. I had taken a few myself. But now, suddenly, the room--this cathedral--seemed to take on a life of its on. Breathing, in and out. In and out. I looked toward the ornate altar, washed in golds and browns, reds and creams. Arches of stained glass and polished wood. The checkerboard flooring. The kneeling pillows. Every little detail whispered of a holiness that drew me closer to the One who had inspired it.

I looked then to my left, compelled it seemed, to a wall-sized window of stained glass depicting moments in the life of Jesus. Him touching those who had come to see and hear Him. Him healing the sick and afflicted.

"I'm still believing for a miracle."

The voice pushed through my ears as if they had been spoken by someone sitting right beside me. The hymn swelled and my breath caught in my throat as silent, unbidden tears pushed their way out of my eyes, trailed down my cheeks, and plopped onto my blouse.

He had come to me here. Here. In a church neither of us had ever heard of and only one of us had ever seen. Here, in the silence and in the holiness and in the breath of worship.

Here, he had come.


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