Thursday, June 2, 2011
THE HEALING AND THE STRANGER
THE HEALING AND THE STRANGER
My wife Elaine and I married young. I was just 18 and she 19. Those first few years were tumultuous, as we meshed into the comforts of each other and the relationship grew into a marriage. After being married for 15 years, we had reached that point of nonchalance, or maybe it was that point of growing in different directions, and caring more for oneself than the pair. Elaine turned to another and fell in love. It's funny how that will awake you to reality, one that turns your world upside down. However, I learned from my mistakes, and prayed to God that I be given another chance. Let's just say that God did answer those prayers, and we started new. It wasn't easy, but it became a good marriage again. Now, I am not a religious zealot, but I do believe in the Great Architect of the Universe and have had too many prayers answered not to have faith. With this said, I am going to jump ahead to the story I meant to tell.
It started with a trip to the beauty shop where Elaine had been going to Tina for eight years. Tina noticed a patch of skin, where there should be hair, on the back of Elaine's neck. When she came home, she asked me to look at it. It was the size of a quarter and innocent enough - just a small patch of smooth skin. We decided to make an appointment with our doctor just the same, because it was a little inflamed. We thought nothing much more of it. A biopsy was taken and we were told to come back in a week for the results. A week later, the doctor took another biopsy, claiming the first one was too small and the results were inconclusive. So another week passed, and this time the doctor's office called and suggested we both be present to discuss the results. We went together, hand in hand, to the office to hear words that anyone fears. Cancer was diagnosed, and he was passing us on to a specialist. The form of cancer she was diagnosed with was Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma.
We went home with shock waves pounding our souls. I went on a hunt to find out all I could about this form of cancer. I spent hours searching the Internet for information, and what I found wasn't too promising. It is a rare incurable cancer, and treatments proved to be ineffective at best. I shared the troubling news with Elaine, and all the visions of the worst cascaded over us. We went to the specialist, and it turned out he was the only one in the area who worked with this particular disease. He explained the details, reviewed the biopsies, consulted a partner and took another biopsy, and so the trips to Spokane began weekly. We spent that time numb, shell shocked, with the rug of life being pulled out from under our feet. Elaine turned to me, I held her, and all I could do was turn to God and pray, for it was out of my power to do anything else. So pray I did, constantly, asking for help, asking for a blessing, and we continued to go to the doctor.
More biopsies were taken, weeks turned to months... until one night, in our kitchen, I felt the need to lay my hands on the spot on Elaine's neck that was affected as I prayed. My hands felt the power as it coursed up my arms and filled my body with indescribable electricity. I knew something had happened, and I had to rely on my faith that it was what I had prayed for. The next week another biopsy was taken, and another week of waiting. Now, I need to share with you that I was riding my bike to work daily. I was on the road at 5 a.m. to get to work by 6:30. The roads were always vacant, and it was a pleasant way to stay in shape. On this morning's ride, I had more than enough to shout about. You see, the last biopsy came back clean - no trace of cancer, and I knew that my prayers had been answered. Needless to say, the joy was being shouted from the soul as I road that morning.
I was peddling along on this desolate road, lost in my own thoughts when I heard a "hello." That "hello" almost gave me a heart attack. I mean, I was alone on a bike, riding on a deserted highway. I turned my head to see a stranger riding next to me. There is no way for me to describe exactly what made him seem different; it was everything and nothing. He wore a helmet on top of a stocking cap, sweat pants, and had a short gray beard, and was riding a Huffy. I ride a hand-built custom bike, and I usually look down my nose at a Huffy, but at this moment all I could think of was that God would ride a Huffy, because he wouldn't care about Prestige or anything else. It didn't matter what he rode at all. Strange thought to have at that moment, but it was there. He passed me, and for a while I was behind him. I thought his riding was effortless. He seemed to be peddling much easier than I, but there he was ahead of me. We started to climb a hill, with him in my lead, when the thought that I was not following God filled my mind, and I swear I saw a golden cross of flames on his windbreaker. As we climbed, I slowly caught up to him, closer and closer, until at the apex of the hill we were side by side. Now, if you knew my route, you would know I turn off on the dirt road there and cut off traversing a dangerous bridge before winding up on the highway and the best part of my commute. I was going to say, "It's time for me to take a different path," to him, even though we had only shared that first "hello," when I knew that wasn't the right thing to say. Instead, I just said. "See ya," and made my turn, leaving him to go on down the road.
As I traveled down the dirt, I was singing at the top of my lungs. There was no one to hear me, and think me the fool, my heart was overjoyed and over full, and singing was the only way to release it. (Not that anyone would find my singing pleasant to hear). I made my turns and rode my cutoff until I exited back to the road and started the last mile to the final turn to the office. I was riding along, lost again in the moments and thoughts, when I heard, "You beat me." The stranger on the Huffy was back along side me. It was then I decided to introduce myself and we exchanged names. His was Michael, and he told me he rode this ride every day. I kept it to myself that I had lived and rode this ride for a number of years, and I had never seen him. I just let it go with a smile, and told him it was my pleasure to meet him. Then it was time to turn off to the office parking lot and let him continue on his journey. I have never seen him again, but on investigating the name Michael, I did discover he is God's messenger, his Archangel, and to this day, I know who I rode with and how blessed I am.
Posted by P. Urial at 6:37 AM