Chapter 22: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost
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As I mentioned before, I wasn’t terribly religious. Now please, don’t get me wrong: I had nothing against faith, (the faith of my loved ones and of my own was keeping me sane during my chemotherapy), but I did notice a disturbing element to religion. I found that lots of religions were obsessed with trying to get people to accept their respective interpretation of the Bible.
And while I appreciated all of the prayers and thoughts (and could feel the collective energy helping), I knew that I wasn’t long for my Catholic ways. Instead, I would use this newfound focus on positivity and compassion to be a better person overall- free from sect and sacrilege.
So to that effect, I enjoyed the visits from the priest, as awkward as they had been in the past. See when he would visit me at first, he would bring the body of Christ for me. I ate it, having learned the proper way to place my hands in which to receive the sacrament (right hand cupping the left in a “bowl” shape [left-hand dominance won this battle!] and then the right won the next– taking the body and eating it). At the very least, he would want me to say the “Our Father” prayer with him every time.
The request was not a difficult one to meet as I had the prayers memorized from a young age; my mother made sure of it. I knew “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” “Glory Be,” and “O My Jesus.” She gave me a small leaflet of all four, which I memorized quite easily. Reciting them was immediately instilled as a nightly ritual. I would utter all four of the main prayers, then add my own personal prayer, where I spoke directly to Jesus himself.
My customized prayer quickly amassed into a laundry list, as I would ask for many things: My family’s health and happiness, then my friends’, to not get picked on at school, any pertinent events forthcoming to go well, and most importantly, I’d sometimes have a venting session about my life. These sessions were crucial to my mental well-being, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. It allowed me a chance to decompress the day-to-day struggles, especially during my rocky childhood through our parents’ divorce and our foster homes.
The usual get-togethers with the Priest weren’t that bad, but mostly because to my declination of regular “mass visits,” so he would just recommend that I tuned into to channel four and watch the mass on Sunday. Even after that point, he would continue to check up on me as the weeks went on, just to make sure I didn’t need his assistance along the way.
During these stops, he would attempt to make small talk: first about the weather (which for a person stuck in the hospital for extensive stays like me was irrelevant), then about my treatment, and finally, after stopping in a few times and picking up on my devout movie-watching habits, found his Trojan horse, his Hail Mary play.
“What’s your favorite movie?” I had to think about it, I never was great with being put on the spot. “There are so many to choose from. Tommy Boy, Billy Madison, Dumb and Dumber, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Oh! Back to the Future.”
“Oh, I haven’t seen that one, what’s it about?”
I was about to lose my mind. Are you kidding me?! You haven’t seen Back to the Future?! It’s only one of the best sci-fi, time travel movies of all time! Instead, I refrained from an unnecessary scolding at the clergyman. “It’s really good, you should check it out.”
The Priest was waiting for me to ask him. I had no intention of it, as I simply didn’t want to put someone else in that ponderous predicament. No, instead he jumped at the moment to blurt out his favorite.
“My favorite movie is Ghost. Have you seen it?”
Ghost? What? “Yeah, I’ve seen it a couple of times; good movie.” I thought it quite odd that a man of faith would enjoy a film about life and death, almost as if it was “proof” of his spiritual slant.
“Ghost has such a powerful message about the power of love and faith. It’s an extremely touching film. That’s why I love it.”
You do know it’s a Hollywood production and doesn’t even mention “Heaven” or “Hell,” right? “Yeah, it is a very sad movie.”
“It’s actually a happy movie because everything works out in the end. Anyway, I need to visit some other people today, so I’ll see you next week?”
“Yup, I’m not going anywhere.” The Priest smiled and shook my hand. “May the Lord be with you.” He motioned the cross on his forehead, then mine, and quietly left the room.
But when he returned later in the week, he came with a gift: the movie Ghost. Unsure, of his intentions I said thanks and thought that would be it. But then he asked: “Would you like to watch it now?” Oh no, this is his copy and he wants to watch it with me. Horrified and afraid to say no to a Priest, I reluctantly said yes. So we sat down, me on my hospital bed, and him in the recliner next to me and watched the entirety of Ghost.
It was one of the most awkward things that had ever happened to me, and I can never forget it. I was deftly afraid that he would A. be one of those pesky talkers during the film; and B. trying to “cuddle” with me, or worse yet: C. Cry uncontrollably.
The most disturbing part had yet to come, as early on in the film, “Unchained Melody“ roared out of the television’s speakers– The infamous clay pot scene arrived. I wanted to rip my IV out, run out of the room and never go back. But instead, I just sat there, never breaking my sight from the T.V. Then they had a steamy sex scene. I slowly reached over to my IV and carefully peeled back the adhesive surrounding it to test its strength. I’m fucking out here. But as soon as it started, it was over.
Even so, I pictured him slowly reaching out and touching my thigh. I couldn’t help it; it was on the news everywhere! Stories of Priests coming forward, admitting they molested children, and there wasn’t anyone else with us in the room! I’m alone with him!
Near the end when Sam Wheat ascended into “Heaven,” I carefully looked at him with the corner of my eye and saw him tear up. My vision was blurry… because I too had wet eyes. Then I realized that I was projecting my own fears and expectations upon him and that he was only trying to make me forget about my struggle, even if only for a few hours. This poor man had been falsely accused of something so horrific in my mind, that I felt hopelessly guilty. He wasn’t a pedophile or a creep; he was a good man and a good father.
We finished the movie, and I took it out of the Playstation 2 and handed it over to him. He waved his hand at me. “It’s yours, I bought it for you. Thanks for letting me share my favorite movie with you. God bless, and have a great night, my Son.” He motioned the cross again on his forehead, then mine. I smiled.
“Thank you.” He shook my hand, and then quietly left the room. I sat there in reflection. Ghost, to me, was a movie about redemption and saving the ones you love, no matter what the outcome may be. And in a way, Father was doing that for me now; saving me from some potential bad thoughts and relating to me on a powerful level: film.
I still have the DVD to this day, and I’ll never forget that moment.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.
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