“I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …”
If you need to pray for spiritual help,
Saint’s John Paul II and Mother Teresa are your best bets…
You never know when life is going to turn on a dime and force you to face reality in a way you did not expect.
My best friend suggested I find someone (outside the fellowship) to talk to. And I had a contact up my sleeve. Last week, I made contact with a friend who was my academic adviser, mentor, professor and friend or many years.
We met when I began University in my second year of sobriety.
At that time, the run up to the Iraq war had begun, and expats here in Montreal, were marching in the streets. Not to mention everyone who joined in as Canadians. \
That was my first foray into Montreal Demonstrations. Let me tell you, Montrealer’s really know HOW to Demonstrate. We do it for any kind of reason, and we have the numbers to prove it.
Back then I was warned to sew Canadian flags to my backpack, so as to not get singled out and pummeled by demonstrators. That was a rude awakening for sure.
When I moved here, back in 2002, I was not settled in the life I wanted just YET.
I had one foot in the South, and one foot in the North.
I had not figured out my loyalty or where I stood in the world, because, I had made the move, but it took time to find my feet, so to speak.
Today I am 100% Canadian. Both my feet are firmly planted in Canada.
I have only one connection to the U.S. which is necessary, because it pays our rent.
I reminded my friend today of sage advice he had given me all those years ago, because it applied to our conversation today.
Not knowing where to turn or what to do, and not trusting myself just yet, I needed to learn how to navigate the city, the university and my life.
My friend said this:
IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO GO, OR WHAT TO DO, SIT DOWN.
SIT DOWN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. TAKE OUT YOUR MAP, AND FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE TERRAIN AROUND YOU. TAKE STOCK, OBSERVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND GET A FEEL FOR WHERE YOU ARE.
CONSULT YOUR MAP AND FIND YOUR PLACE. WHEN YOU ARE SATISFIED THAT YOU HAVE THAT FAMILIARITY, AND ARE READY TO MAKE A DECISION ON WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT, ROLL UP YOUR MAP, AND TAKE THAT NEXT STEP.
BUT NOT BEFORE YOU ARE SURE OF WHERE YOU ARE GOING.
I thought I needed to talk to my friend. In the end, I think he needed to talk to me.
My life is littered with little pieces of information, across a wide spectrum of topics. Like I said before, there are things I KNOW, for CERTAIN.
Life and Death are two of those certainties.
You never know what is gonna come at you. I sat with my friend, in the same cafe, that I spent 3 months talking to Elder’s Christensen and Sorensen. That is where I was introduced to the LDS Faith.
That was a whole other discussion. Let’s not go there.
Let’s just say that, that particular coffee shop, holds a very important place in my heart because that was where Spencer and I became best of friends.
I have a little of Spencer within me, which was very useful to me today.
My friend’s initial email said that … A lot had changed since we last saw each other, and somewhere, deep within me, I knew that the news was not going to be good. I was prepared for that possibility today.
I was right.
I know what it feels like to have someone tell me that I was gonna die. And I know what it feels like when someone close to you says the same thing, that they are going to die.
Today, my friend told me that he was terminal. That he had small cell Cancer, and that there was no cure, that every two months he goes for scans and right now, things are ok, but Fuck, you never know do you ?
What do you do in cases like these ? Swallow hard and try to find the right words to comfort and of understanding.
Been there, done that.
Spencer said to me earlier that I was in the right place for the right reason.
That my friend needed to talk to me, more than I needed to talk to him.
Spiritually speaking, we both are from Religious backgrounds. He teaches and IS an Anglican Priest. He was my teacher when I was working on my B.A. in Religion.
We both are Papabile.
And he knows my take on Saint John Paul II.
John Paul II always said that suffering is Salvific.
That there is saving grace in suffering, that suffering is something humans must do, it is unavoidable. Looking at it spiritually through John Paul II’s lens … We are saved through our suffering.
For many, many years, as a pope watcher, I studied John Paul II intimately. Like I have studied Francis intimately too.
I jokingly said to my friend today that maybe he should pray to John Paul. You never know when the intercession of a saint might work.
He admitted that he was in the Final Season of his life, and that he really needed to know what his calling was to be at this juncture of time. I asked him the very same question.
I told him what I did and how it felt. He told me to listen to God and to survey my life and see what I do well. And maybe, in determining what I do well, just might be, in certainty, what I need to do now.
We asked the same question of each other, HE had the answer for both of us.
Normal, mortal, human beings, never think about death and dying until it hits them squarely between the eyes.
We in fact, my friend as professor and I as student, had a class together called:
Death and Dying.
Nobody thinks about dying till they lose a parent or child. That is the ultimate loss. Friends and extended family, might be serious, but the further you travel from the trunk of the tree, the less the sting.
Having experience in Death and Dying, sets me apart from all of my friends and fellows. I have knowledge that not many people have inside of them, because I have been to the graveyard myself and picked out my plot.
Then I survived and realized that I did not need it.
While working at the bar, all those years ago, Todd’s lover Bob, lay in the graveyard that was located just across the street from the bar itself. Todd knew death already. And around us the next onslaught of death was taking place.
Todd kept me too busy to focus on dying.
That Pin Point Precision knowledge saved my life.
I know that with the utmost certainty.
If it were not for Todd’s Love and Grace,
(read: If not for God’s Love and Grace) I would not be here right now.
We all will die but it is not up to us to make the decision as to when.
However some want that choice here in Canada, to choose their own route, method and date. I want that choice for myself, I do really. I’m not going to end up in some hospital shitting in a diaper, unable to speak or feel.
I am going to go out on my own terms.
Today began another journey of walking someone I love to the final gate.
With Courage, Love and Compassion.