We were waiting to be called in for a chemo infusion. It was one of Ray’s first chemo treatments and each of those first times we went to Karmanos Cancer Center, we were both scared and weepy.
“How are you?” Ray asked a thin, black man who looked like he had been to hell and back.
“Everyday above ground is a good day” he replied with a huge smile.
Indeed, every day is a blessing and I thank God for everyday that Raymond and I have together. Isn’t it funny how someone can speak one sentence to you and it changes your perspective on life? I believe that we are placed in another’s path for a reason and if we are wise enough, we can learn profound lessons from total strangers. I call these people, “earth angels.” The words we speak to each other, the words we “choose” to use, the words we least expected to hear, lyrics in a song or a poem, all have great meaning to me. Ever since I was a kid, I appreciated lyrics to music. I learned them and enthusiastically sang along with most every song on the radio. My mom used to tell me that, “If they put the multiplication tables to music, I would learn them!”
One day, early on in the “cancer process,” we met a man in the doctors office waiting room who had the same appreciation for words as I did. I was reading a book, trying to remain calm and pretend that I wasn’t the nervous wreck I actually was. The words on the page blurred as I wondered what the doctor would tell us today. Would he have good news? What if something is wrong? Ray is so weak and tired. He has lost 20 pounds. Is he dying? He’s not eating, he sleeps all the time… fear based thoughts raced through my brain, as I pretended to read.
For any of you who know Raymond, you know that he is a talker. He will strike up a conversation with just about anybody. It is usually my “test meter” to know how he is feeling on any given day, if he is talking, he is feeling good. He struck up a conversation.
A rather short, black man with a dress coat covering his brown pants was sitting in a chair in front of us. His hat carefully placed on the chair next to him.
“Do you have cancer?” he asked the dignified man.
“No, my wife does, but we got good news today, she is cancer free!” replied the man with an accent that I couldn’t identify.
Then he turned to me and said, “You’re a reader.”
“I love words” he spoke his quietly. “Any words, books, lyrics….” the conversation began. We talked about books we had both read, how the author’s style influenced the experience of reading, pulling the reader into the story. He started talking about music. He said he loved the old blues and jazz musicians that molded his early years. Then all of a sudden and out of now where he stood up, leaned over and quietly, sang a love song to us. Right there in the waiting room we were being serenaded. I wish I could remember what song he sang to us. It was a song from the ’40’s or 50’s. I do remember he had the most beautiful, clear voice I have ever heard. Halfway through the song, his lovely wife came out, stood off to the side, smiling, as she let him finish his song. For a few brief moments, we were all alone in that waiting room, no other cancer ridden patients waiting, no nurses calling the name of who was next to see the doctor, no pages over the intercom; just the four of us, connected through a song. A song as sweet as if an angel were singing it. A song that took our minds off of our troubles and swept us into the 40‘s. A song of love and hope and promise. The song ended with a flourish, we all hugged, wished each other well, thanked each other, blessed each other and they were gone.
Ray and I turned, our teary eyes met, and I excitedly stated, “Another God moment!” Yet another “earth angel”, speaking directly to us, giving us hope, solace, laughter and music. What a blessing. Our spirits were instantly lifted. My mind was no longer on fear, but on promise and happiness and gratitude. What a simple gift, this man with a song, gave both of us.
We have met many “earth angels” at the hospital; doctors, nurses, technicians, custodial workers, volunteer workers and patients. I’m sure I will be discussing them in posts to come, but I want to share the lesson these two “earth angels” taught me. I learned (or rather remembered) not to focus on my fear, but rather to have faith and trust that the universe is unfolding as it should. I need to believe this for both Raymond and myself. I learned that indeed, every day above ground is a good day and we should live it to it’s fullest. I was reminded that words can have a profound effect on people. I learned that everyone has a story and if you listen, you just might be hearing words straight from God’s voice, via an “earth angel”. I learned to be open and receptive to messages from God. They are all over if we only stop to hear them. “God moments” are every moment. As my girlfriend Cindy always says, “The future is a big place!” In my future, I will trust in miracles and in the messages I receive from “earth angels.”