There's a good chance that if you had a conversation with me anytime between last Thursday and late Sunday, I probably have little to no recollection of it. It's not that our time wasn't important, it is simply that I have no real memory of the past week.
On Friday evening, Quincy came home to find me "asleep" on the floor in our family area. I had no remembrance of how I got there, or what I was doing on the floor, and when asked, I just shared that I, "was tired."
I went to our bedroom, got ready for bed, and climbed into bed and went to sleep. The next day Quincy had an early day full of events with the theater, and so I slept in. I had been fighting some kind of "bug" since the previous weekend when I "thought," that I had a virus that had been circulating in the schools and our neighborhood. Being a chaplain, I find myself in a lot of places, and I am used to following COVID protocol, but what was happening in my body started several months ago.
On Saturday evening I drove myself to our local hospital, where in the ER I had a minimal blood pressure and hadn't been able to eat in four days. I don't remember much, and I have to laugh because when I took my first shower on Wednesday of this week, I discovered a number of band aides in a number of places that I had no clue how they got there. That's when I realized just how sick I actually was.
As I write this, I am home and under care of any amazing team.
After my second encounter with COVID, an issue I have with my immune system became more than just a shadow in my life. It presented itself in the light, and had no plans to retreat. For over twenty years, I have lived with a condition that I knew would one day welcome a fungus, bacteria, or virus into my life that my broken immune system would not be able to defeat, and I would die from it. As I tell others, "I made friends with death a long time ago. Perhaps that's why I'm a hospice chaplain?"
I was diagnosed with more than one type of bacteria... four to be precise, AND a parasite! "Parasite" was not one of the things on the list I had filed away in my mind of life-limiting options. How wonderful! To think that something was actually finding life while bringing me closer to the end of mine!
Not a very romantic way to die.
I remember years ago when leaving a clinic after surviving cancer and a woman remarking, "You must really understand why God gave you cancer? You know, how it's part of God's plan?"
It took everything I had a "Christian" person not to completely allow my head to explode with her comment, and to carefully allow the words to flow from my mouth in a way that I didn't sound like a lunatic. I just remember looking at her and saying, "So you think God did this to me as part of God's plan for me and my life?"
She shook her head like a girl in class who just was told she was brilliant by the teacher, as she affirmed my response.
I do remember her look when I responded, "Look lady, my God didn't 'give' this to me as part of some historic, Biblical encounter with the Creator. God should have hit me with a damn bus. It would have been quicker, cheaper, and my kids would have had an amazing story to tell their friends."
She tried to get away and I continued, "God didn't do this to me. I live in an imperfect world, surrounded by imperfect people like me, who make imperfect decisions. My parents should have never had children to encounter a world where carcinogens would pollute our water and air, and I should never have chosen to live in Houston, where the EPA allows for more pollutants to exist because we keep our nation moving with the energy we provide. No ma'am, my God didn't do this, but my God hears my prayers and has a plan for my life as I continue to live in this imperfect world."
I was always told to put a little "tremble" in my voice so that people will either think I'm crazy or serious. I believe if I had added the tremble at this point, she might have ran in fear of me. Instead, I needed to have her hear that the God who created all of us, loves us. And that is what I still believe, even as my body struggles with new medications, a new team of caregivers, and an understanding that each day is a gift.
For years I have been caring for the "least of these," as one who has taken this role seriously. I have not always made good decisions in life, or with my health. I'm currently sleeping about 18 to 20 hours a day, and someone from my team is checking in daily on me. I'm once again "making sense," and my body is responding, slowly, to treatment My blood pressure, which was basically non-existent Saturday in the ER, has returned to a normal range, and I have been able to eat in small increments.
I will keep you updated on this new season continues, but no matter how long or how short it may be,, the God who created me has a plan... for something better... always.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2023 Stay in God's grip!
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.