February 11, 2015

The Writing on the Wall

Post-transplant, day #428.  The Writing on the Wall.

I have met my maker and returned!
What advice I'm giving
To all those living
Is just to learn what I have learned:
Life is dear! There can be no vict'ry in defeat.
If out-numbered, beat a fast retreat
To the nearest shelter and dig in!
When you live, then you win!

This last week has witnessed my triumphant, albeit low-key, return to the musical theatre lighting desk, with tonight being final dress of Blair Academy's The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Those who know me know my affinity for good theatre, especially musicals, and that lighting those and dance performances pretty much constitutes my lighting career.

It is the rare straight play that doesn't get boring for me.  But musicals have a way of getting better night after night, production after production, becoming more familiar and worn and treasured each time I see one or hear the cast album.

They also have a way of getting under my skin and causing me to become an emotional wreck.

Case in point:  in the fall of 1997, while my girlfriend was living in Silver Springs and I was in New York, both of us for master's degrees, I visited her for my birthday and she surprised me with tickets to see Rent.  Given ticket prices and lines that stretched around blocks, I never got a chance to see it in NY.  This would be my first viewing of a show I knew almost by heart just from the cast album.

I enjoyed the show immensely, singing along with the cast mostly in my head, sometimes outloud to Kimberly's annoyance.  But then we reached my most favorite song of the show: Seasons of Love.

Now here I must back up to just a few months previous, to before leaving Springfield, to a moment in time when my main sport was climbing.  Towards the end of my last semester, my best friend Dave asked me to his room and then told me with tears running down his cheeks that our mutual friend and world-class climber, Chris, had fallen while free-climbing.  He was dead, his head cracked open like a watermelon on the rocks below.

You may think I was horrified.  You would be right.  But aside from shock and numbness, I couldn't process the loss of my friend at the time.

Yet in the middle of watching Rent in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Larson's lyrics washed over me and allowed a release of my grief like I'd never felt before.  By the middle of the song, I was bawling -- and I couldn't make it stop.  It took several minutes after the cast had moved on with the rest of the show for me to compose myself.  I don't think Kimberly ever understood the impact that a mere song can have on me, especially when it opens the floodgates of grief.

But now, having finished Drood, I have another tune that makes my emotions boil to the top; an anthem that ends the show.  In a deus ex machina ending, Edwin Drood escapes from the crypt his body was deposited in after his "murder" and describes what he learned as terror washed through him and he fought for his very life to get out. in "The Writing On The Wall".

You have no idea the sudden strength
That you feel within you,
The steel and sinew,
When fate stands smiling at arms-length.
The lyrics echo and reinforce how I felt prior to transplant; how the overwhelming majority of us feel I think.  We will do anything to survive.  And how those of us feel who are trying to encourage others to keep their head up and keep marching on in their recovery, no matter how hard and exhausted they are getting.

Scratch and claw for every day you're worth!
Make them drag you screaming 
from life, keep dreaming
You'll live forever here on earth.

I have read the writing on the wall,
And it's clearly spelled out
For those who've held out
That holding on to life is all.

Sometimes, though, someone can't escape from the crypt, can't cheat fate.  But of my fellow CF Warriors, not a single one has simply given up, simply laid down and died.  They fight strenuously with everything they have to the miserable end.  And in the last six months, we've lost a LOT of Warriors. From Kenna Taylor, who was denied transplant, to Jordan Wood, who had survived two double-lung transplants and spread the word about organ donation through his work in the church and elsewhere.  A few days ago, we lost the strongest fighter I've ever known, Eryne Shan.  Even with her dying breaths, she was asserting that she wanted to live.  And, of course, I am still deeply impressed with what one small girl, Ellie Levy, was able to do with her time here on earth and how hard she worked to survive.

Today, I am reminded that life is *always* worth fighting for.  Screw Death.  And I urge everybody approaching transplant who I'm in touch with, from Jen Eisenmann to Janine Ulyette, to gird yourself for the fight of your life; to ready yourself to tackle the worst things imaginable if necessary.  Because I want to see you come through this and you deserve the extra months and years coming.

If you hear my voice, then you're alive.
What a bloody marvel we survive,
When you think of every risk we face

In our mad human race!

I have read the writing on the wall!
Try to live forever
And give up never

The fight - you'll need the wherewithal!
Can't you heed the lightning
As I plead. Inciting you to read 

No comments: