Saint’s parade

“I saw him sometimes at night standing right next to Szymon’s bed. He often stroked his head spreading comfort and easing the pain. He never looked at me, as I was not the one for whom he came, but I was always glad that he cares for him, giving the warms and relief, which I could not give…”

First you seek help among the living, from captains to anybody who, without extorting money, is willing to support you. Soon you realize, that nothing what you encounter on your path to full recovery goes without permission from He, who is not bonded by our reality. Bonded by rules, you are restricted with, to have an illusion of stable, predictable nearby future. In short, superpowers, which people don’t have not to cause even more chaos in this world. You start to read about miracles, which are happening all over the world, people who should be long dead in accordance to our medical knowledge, but are still alive. And it gets you thinking. “What can I do, how can I help myself in experiencing God’s mercy on my soul? To whom should I pray to get proper intercession of saints? To be heard.”

You start to look through those stories and try to find which of those saints had the most of those miracles happening, which had the biggest God’s grace and cured people from dread diseases. You look for patterns, which link all those miracles, and hope that if you do the same God’s mercy will come down on you. Quickly you know, on the path of being called saint, you need to be first proclaimed blessed by church. And the whole beatification process needs prove of miracles. This got me thinking, I admit it could be seen as naive thinking, but you will try everything, so I thought maybe if I pray to one of them, he will have the proof of being saint by performing a miracle on my son.

„Alright! This is my final offer! I know you need this as much as I need it. I know you need this for a different reason to mine, but I know it lays in our mutual interests to make sure it happens.” He paused for a second and then rose his finger to the air. “One miracle! One small, or maybe for some of you big, miracle, and we are good. I need it for Szymon to stay on earth and you need proof of your holiness. We all know that without it nobody will believe that you are saint, and we know only saints gets the best seats there. This is my final offer, take it or leave it. Calling once! Calling Twice! Sold! “

Act I

Blessed Martyrs of Peru

Curtains

They were one of those we decided to turn into. It was one of those situation, one could call coincidence, but those who believe would see God’s finger pushing certain people on your path. Soon after we were listed, to our room in the facility, entered a couple with little girl. And with only few words exchanged, we realized that they came from the same city as my wife, and know same people from one of the prayers group my in-laws were going to.  And we did not need to wait long, when one of those people, from that pray group, said that there is no coincidence in life. And since we are both on the same path we should pray to two Polish Franciscan priests who were killed in Peru in recent times. They were proclaimed blessed by Pope Francis, and if God’s will is to make them saints, they need more miracles. I personally was not too convinced about this idea, so soon has forgotten of their existence.

Time passed and we started to have more and more opportunities to go outside the facility. We used those breaks in the training to travel a bit, close to our home, to escape from the city and sight-see close by towns. We also started to visit nearby sanctuaries to pray for God’s mercy. There was one not far from our home, that for some reason we preferred most. We heard about couple of strange stories that happen there, people got cured from disease when praying to Holy Mary for Her intercession. Church was beautifully, with huge figure of Mary in the center, right behind the altar. You could sense that there is something special there. It was the same place where saint Maximilian Kolbe was living before he was sent to Nazi camps and died giving his life for other man, who was sentenced to death. We thought that it will be an excellent idea if we ask those monks to conduct a mass to cure Szymon. Place where you could order a mass was just next to the church. There was a small booth with priest siting inside.

“Wouldn’t you like to have a yearly mass?” He asked.

“I am not sure if we have enough money for that.” We replied we a bit of hesitation in our voice.

 “Money is the last thing you should worry about.” He replied and asked. “What is your child’s name?”

„Szymon. Please pray for his health, and help in sabotaging his training.”

 Priest stopped writing for a second, looked up and ask us. “What is he training for?”

„He has a large tumor on his adrenal gland, making him unique and qualifying for a space program where they trained children to fly to heaven.”

Priest paused again for a second and grabbed from his pocketed small, foiled picture and handed to us. Out of the whole pantheon of saints he gave as picture with relics of Blessed Martyrs of Peru and said. “Please take it, these are third degree relics of two blessed Polish priests who were killed in Peru. You have huge drama in your family therefore please pray to them and maybe they can help you on your way.”

Tears came to our eyes, from shock and emotions. It was unexpected, very touching gesture, and clear sign from God that we should, at least, try to pray for his mercy with intercession of those two priests.

All we could say was “Thank you.” We turn around and started to cry like little children.

End of Act I

Curtains

My car my confessional

 

“Drop after drop falls on my cheek

is it rain or tears?

I will hide it in my small mystery

I will hide my big misery”

Night again. The stars entered the sky and the moon leisurely is making the scene. The breath of fresh air away from corridors filled with the smell of chemo penetrating my nostrils. At times, it’s making me feel like I am the one taking the meds by inhaling it. I exit the facility and head towards a parking lot. Each step away from that miserable place puts me at peace, at the same time each step away from them, knowing that I had to leave Szymon and Mag there, puts my heart at sorrow. This constant conflict tearing me internally apart.

Few more steps, parking lot, during the day fully filled with cars, now empty with only few cars left, and among those few awaits my best friend – my car. One who stands there patiently, no matter if it’s hot sunny day, which heats up its black paint to the temperatures making the car untouchable or frosty winter day covering the car with snow, so you can barely recognize it among the others. My companion on the way home…

 “If you would have had ears to listen, eyes to see, and mouth to tell me what to do… Well, maybe you do, but I can not hear you because it is me that is constantly talking.”

I heard once that some people believe that cars, as many other objects, have souls. They listen to us, react to our emotions, words, and if you will be mean, it will break on you in least expected, least favorable moment. I do not fully cope with this idea, but still there are times where I joke and talk to my car like it would have ears to listen and mind to decide. In current state, this is the best place for me to release all the tension. Let my emotions go. Allow those words laying deep inside of me to come out, and tiers to fall, well hidden behind the rainy windshield. This is one of those places where I felt save to show my weakness.

Door shut, engine started and the journey began. I said goodbye to the security guide on the way out of the parking lot, and left for home. There are nights when even he gives up and goes to sleep leaving the barrier open, so no one will wake him up when leaving so late. I love road back home, especially at night, when there are not many cars, and once you pass few streets, you enter quite long drive through the woods. Driving in the winter, when trees are covered with snow make this passage even more breathtaking. Or in the autumn when the road is hidden in the fog and I am passing by construction cars, working on the side. Mist make them looked like alien invasion seen on films.

“Dad, I know you can hear me although I can not hear you, see you. Please give me just one little sign that you are with us on this path. Please show me something, which will bring peace to my heart. Something, which will reassure me, that no matter what happens it is your will and nobody else’s. As I know you love us and want what is best for us, but please, I beg you, give me a sign making me certain, that it is not my delusion but your love spread to us.”

Those few minutes that I have in my car when traveling back home gives me a chance to pray, talk to God, ask this reoccurring question “WHY???”, or just say all those things I could not say in front of Szymon. It gives me a chance to cry out all the sadness as I don’t want to show him my powerlessness, which constantly hunted me. Those few minutes spend in the car gives me a chance to make all those little plans of what to do next, as I know that planning for more than a month would be just stupid. And sometimes I could just stay silent and listen to the music, just for couple of minutes, not to think of anything. Just look at the road and take my mind of all the problems I have, we have. I know that it was hardly possible to do but at least I try.

I love road back home, these are those few minutes where I can recharge my batteries for the next day, bring back smile on my face and pretend, or maybe believe, that all is and all will be good. That there is nothing to worry because all those horrifying stories, told about the others flying to heaven, doesn’t have to come true in our case.

“You will not hear me. You will not feel me, but you will know that I am close to you.”

Round Four – The Gang

“Welcome back! We are about to start the second half of our football (soccer) championship game between Visitors and Home. For those who have missed the first half, the score is one to nothing for Home, with the ball hitting the net just before going to the locker rooms. The weather is nice, sunny and warm, making this a lovely day with a family, here at a national stadium. After few minutes rest players are now returning to the pitch. Coaches grouped the players to share some last-minute tactics before the referee will blow the whistle and the second half of the game will start. As all of you know, it’s a game of two halve, therefore still much can happen.

And there it is! The referee started the second half. The Visitors are not wasting any minutes, knowing they are playing not only against Home team but whole crowd who is screaming and cheering for their players. Everyone knows that with this kind of support you can move mountains. The Visitors can feel that pressure coming from tribunes hence they need to score a goal until they will not run out of motivation. As with each minute passing by this game will be more and more difficult for them.

Nice cross by the one visitors trying to reach Tymek. The ball slightly misses him and he needs to catch the pass. Oh no! Quick slide done by Boldy and the Home is back in control. Long pass to Szymon, what nice tackle, he passes one player, two more, and there is only him and the goal keeper left! Will he manage to score? What a suspense. Crowd is getting louder while Szymon stopped for a split of a second, looked into goal keeper’s eyes, twisted his lips into adorable, disarming smile and shoots! Gooooalll!!!! Did you see it?!?! He puts the ball in the net! The goalkeeper just stood there and could not do anything about it! The game barely started and Home managed to score another goal!

2-0 may for some may look like the game is over, but let’s not lose hope. There is still time for at least one goal for the Visitors. One that will raise them from their knees and put back into the game. Visitor’s goalkeeper kicked the ball. Cross went to midfielder, he started his run, passing two defenders. Oh, I think we will have a chance to see a goal for Visitors. The midfielder passed the ball to the attacker. He allowed the ball to pass him. He followed the ball with his eyes while turning around and when the ball was in the perfect position, he hit it with full strength. “Yes?!?…Yeess?!??…Oh nooo!!! What a save!!! Have you seen it?!?! The goalkeeper jumped to the ball, that was heading toward upper right corner and with just a split of the finger he managed to push it away from the goal. The referee whistled and we are going to have a corner. Both teams are battling in the Home’s penalty area trying to win best spot to score or defend the goal. The whistle blown by the referee and the ball is heading straight to the center of the penalty area. All the players are in the air trying to reach the ball with their heads. Yes?!?Yeees?!?! The ball is heading towards the net, kicked by one of the players from the Visitor’s team. Oh no!! how much bad luck you can have in one game?! Everyone saw this ball heading straight to the net, but it took this strange turn just at the end and hit the woodwork! The crossbar is what they need to satisfy with! “

“Don’t stop… never stop…” Voice whispered in my head. ” Please, if this is how our life will look from now on, let it be, but make it last. Last as long as it can be… I want to see him running, laughing, having fun with other children… There is nothing more pleasing to my heart than his happiness… It spreads warmth into my whole body and puts huge smile on my face. I know it may mean that he will not have a chance to live a normal life, like any other kid, but please at least give me those kind of moments… They help me to forget, forget where we are…”

The Gang – bunch of kids, different age, from 2 to 14 years old running around in small groups. They were making lots of noise but no one dare to reprimand them, silence them, as this was what kept this place alive. This was breath of fresh air, which this place gained each time The Gang met. And you could see that for some kids, like Szymon, not having a chance to play with peers, as it was too risky to go to kindergarten or school where you could get deadly infections, the gang was the reason why they smiled on to the way to the facility. The smile, which was healing our bruised hearts from consciousness that we need to bring him back there. To the last place on earth you would like to drive your child too.

The Gang did not have a leader, but Boldy being the oldest was having the highest authority in the team. Szymon, who was treated like his younger brother, were given much more attention and sympathy. This gave me peace in my heart that even if I lose sight of him Boldy will take care of Szymek. Even corporals when they saw those kinds playing, showed sparks of joy in their eyes. They were sometimes yelling to slow down, walk, don’t run, but it was only to keep them safe. They knew that some kinds should not force their heart so much, due recent chemo injection, which still might be weakening their body. “…I beg You! Don’t take this away from me…. don’t take him away from me…”

 “10 minutes to the end of the match. The Home team is in possession of the ball. There is not much time left, there is always not much time. Let’s see what they can do! Short pass and the ball is going to Kacper, who passes to Maks. Just look how he sprints with the ball! He is running towards the goal, slows down trying to catch a breath, looks around and sees Szymon running on his right. One tackle, and two more defenders ahead of him. “Here! Here!!!” He could hear Szymon screaming on his right. One more tackle and Maks and Szymon are left with the goalkeeper. Maks looked at Szymon and though, “He is younger, I will give him this satisfaction to score another goal.” He passed the ball to Szymon, who did a quick slide to reach it, stood up and shoots… Goooallll!!! GOAAAALL!!!! Everybody screams, everybody smiles. “What a day!” Stated the commentator. “3-0 to Home. With only five minutes till the end of the game nothing will take away their victory, nothing will take away this joy of winning the game. They are almost there!”

“Boldy! Boldy!” familiar voice yelled from the crowd. “Come on, your meds are ready! I need to hook you up.” It was one of the corporals ending the game. “Ehh” Boldy turned around and headed towards the corporal knowing that there is nothing else but just to end the game 5 minutes before. “Just 5 minutes?” He asked with high hopes in his heart. “Ok, I am waiting for you in your room. But just 5 minutes, as I will be late with the others!” Corporal responded with a smile on her face. She also knew that nothing bad will happen if she will delay the meds by 5 minutes but lots of good will come out from them playing a little longer.

Those corridors have magical power of changing to whatever those kids have in their minds, could imagine. One day they are football pitch, the other racing tracks. Those little bold heads running, screaming, laughing made this place much sunnier, less gloomy. And seeing Szymek playing with them, sharing the joy of being among other kids, made my heart swell with happiness.

“Please stay tuned, as next week we will host for you last race of the season. Find out who will go home with the World Champion title and who will just have to settle for a second place!”

Competition

Life teaches you to have distance to situations you come across. Poor are those, who were given such a lesson and they did not draw conclusion from it, meaning did not change their attitude. For me, one of the key findings in those days was that, drama can take on different faces, and that point of view depends on where you sit. What will look like an end of the world for one will be just a minor issue for the other. Your childhood crisis looks funny to grownups, love related issues would be blessing for those who don’t have money to buy food, and stress at work would be nice break from constant pain suffered by oncological or neurological patients. Strangely those who suffer less are often much louder from those who are really in pain.

“How are you?” I asked the person calling me.

“My world just ended, he left me, there is no point of living anymore…he was everything to me…” The tears started to fall on the other side.

“Cheer up, I know you were seeing each other only 3 months, but I can expect that it can be real drama for you.” I tried to put her heart into peace.

“I will try…but you know… I need time…and how is your life?”

 “I am fine. No change, my son is still fighting with this deadly anomaly in his body, but I am sure we will manage. We will beat it and have our life back.” I replied trying not to sound like her problems were nothing compared to ours, but more showing that even if this kind of situation you should not lose hope.

“…I know my problems are nothing compared to yours…” her voice started to be much calmer.

“Yes. You’re right” I smiled trying to bring better mood into the conversation.” Remember this next time you will start to cry because of some jerk leaving you”. She smiled back to me.

Those were times when knowing that not many people can help me, understand me, I can at least show them how lucky they are not to have worse problems.

Most of those who lived the same and understood me well were very supportive, compassionate, and in most cases their story was no better from ours. But there were also people who for some strange reason still needed to compete. Still trying to show whose life was hit more significantly and whose was just dabbed by real life tragedy. Let’s leave them aside for a moment and come back to the facility.

 “Tell me, which door would you like to choose? One where you come here for a week, they do few quick tests, sometimes performed a surgery, and at the end of that week you know if your child either flew to heaven or is disqualified. Or maybe the second one where you wait. You wait weeks, months, sometimes even years. Each day can be the one where they will say – “Now it’s time!”.  Each day is one more day stolen from them. One more day given to you to spend more time with your loved one. Each day which may bring another chance to sabotage the flight. Tell me, do you prefer to know it quickly or wait and just use that time as best as you can. Knowing that the day will come but you just don’t know when…”

There are ten floors at CSD, each one carries different training courses. Key ones are – floor number six, heart uniqueness, most of cadets come here for short period of time. Captains run few stress tests, perform a surgery and at the end parents are told if their child is qualified, which in many cases it means flying to heaven within that time spent in CSD. If not, as the anomaly was fixed by accident and cadet no longer qualifies, they send the child home. Floor number three, sight anomalies. Most of the cadets who are send to this floor will not be qualified for the flight. Reason why they train them is to find something, more unique anomaly, which would allow them to move the cadet to our, seventh floor. My dilemma is fifth and tenth floor – neurological uniqueness. Cadets here showed high brain potentials. They could envision things non-other could. Problem is that in most cases their brain had to disable other functions to perform those tasks. Here you could see, what parents called, disable children, with cerebral palsy or epilepsy, which often is down to either no contact with their child or having a ticking bomb in their head. One that could explode any moment without giving any warning. Each time I saw them pressing button with either 5 or 10 I felt compassion, seeing in their eye despair caused by conscious constantly remaining them that their child will not survive without sever consequences. And all they have is just waiting for the flight while taking care of their beloved, not really knowing what he/she is like. The only thing that they can be sure of is that from time to time he/she suffers lots of pain, as those visions came with a price.

Coming back to the competition visible on our floor. You could hear parents talking from time to time, on whose child is more special. “70 percent chance for a flight?” Asked one of the mothers ensuring she heard it right. “I would love to have that much. My son has only 90 percent. You know what that means? There is only 10 percent chance, he will not make it. That I will be able to take him home with me…” You could see tears appearing on her eyes, when she was saying that. My key take from life is that many times it acts very ironically on us. Especially in those kinds of cases. Later, it was him with only 10 percent of chance to be disqualified, who left for home, while the one with 30 percent made the flight.

Luckily there are also people who have distance to all of that, knowing that those emotions are not really helping, changing anything…just making your life worse…like it would really need to be.

 “What you worry about?” She asked with a bit of surprise. “I forgot to give her Lugol’s iodine before the test!” Mark replied nervously. “So what? Worst case scenario this will just give her thyroid cancer. They will take it out and she will be fine. Not like what she is having now.”. She replied with a bit of irony in her voice, as in those kinds of moments you just don’t know if you should cry or laugh.

Life can be a great teacher. What is huge tragedy for one, for you is just another road block, which you overcome quickly and do not spend much time on it.