Love and Faith
by Bruce Craig
This month, a new grandchild will be born.
Why do I start with this statement, because it sums up my story.
Did you ever see ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ ?
I saw it in maybe ’69 or ’70, when I was 18. By then, I had had over 20 surgeries, including bone and skin grafts, experimental leg stretches and bouts with gangrene and hemorrhages. Overall, I spent large portions of my young years either recovering or rehabilitating from surgeries including amputation in my late teens.
The part that impressed me in 2001 Space Odyssey , was the journey, down a tunnel of lights with sound.
I had seen something like that happen to me before. When I was in really bad shape after the bone graft operation, that went a bit wrong and the leg went septic (gangrene). Within a week, I had a massive hemorrhage in my leg. Blood was seeping to the side of the split cast (split, so they could lift the leg and change the dressings). I knew something was wrong and screamed for the nurse, who in turn called the resident (resident doctors lived in rooms at the end of the hallway as this was a teaching hospital).
Next thing I knew, the room was full of Dr’s and nurse, working on the leg while my life blood splattered all over. In and out of consciousness, I remember, the sounds flowing together…like a single noise…and a motion…travelling thru light…a sense of calm overcame me…no more pain or fear…then there was a shape of my Grandmother who had passed away a few months before. I guess I was dying.
She smiled sweetly and beckoned to me ‘come Bruce…come with me’…and I responded…’no Nana…I don’t want to come’. A day or so later, I had the same vision of her in my room and again declined.
It was that sensation, of travel thru light, that the sequence in 2001 reminded me of.
What I found out later, maybe several years later, is that my parents were called that night and told I wasn’t expected to live the night.
As it was a Catholic Hospital (St. Joseph’s –Toronto)…I also remember the sounds later (after the Dr’s and nurses left after patching me together)… heard the voices of the priest at the foot of my bed and a couple of nurses or nuns (sometimes they were both).. He was saying a prayer. At the time I didn’t realize it…but it was ‘last rights’. Suddenly, one of the nurses broke into the prayer and holding my chart declared ‘…he isn’t Catholic.’ The priest responded…’Well, we are half way there, let’s finish it anyway’. So, that was my introduction to Catholic rites.
I was brought up United (protestant) and my parents were regular churchgoers. I can’t say that I was a model child, teenager or young adult. Certainly not a model Christian. But, I did have a respect for the concept of God and the love of his son Jesus. Further, as per my enjoyment of the outdoors (camping etc)…I felt there was a presence greater than just what i could see and touch. No, I did not have scientific proof. But I did have ‘faith’ that the aspect of God was real and momentous in my life, as was love a real thing.
Falling away from organized religion in my teens, it wasn’t until I met and fell in love with Sylvianne (Wife) and wanted us to marry, did I get a deeper spiritual awakening. This carried me thru my adult years, thru thick and thin (open heart surgery for mechanical aeortic valve at 47 and aneurysm repair , at age 47 with 4 children, and the stroke in 2013), bringing up a family and making a living in a very stressful job of 100% commission sales for 25 years then owning my own business, a retail store in downtown Toronto. I did it all.
What has all this then meant about religion? The point is: in order to believe in the spiritual, you must have faith in love. That is, the ability to accept concepts beyond the temporal. For this, you must hold dear the times you have been loved, as I was, by medical staff but especially my parents. My siblings might have a different view, as I was high maintenance and may have distracted my parents from focus on the whole family. Love…that’s all you need…as the saying goes (John Lennon).
Funny thing, the stroke at 62 actually saved my life. It made it clear to me that there was more than the material world for me. Frankly, I lost interest in making money. I looked over my shoulder and saw my kids, now adults and a new joy filled me. Love. Grandchildren came next and ohhhh….if you have any of those you know what I mean…what a joy. By the end of this month, my son will bring the next Craig into this world as he himself was the last of our family here. And so, the end is as the beginning. A new child is born. A smile, a kiss, a warmth of love to welcome a fellow human. All this, while my older brother waits for his kidney transplant with our niece as donor. Another love.
That’s how I close this folks…LOVE and FAITH. Nothing can shake these beliefs if you practice them.