And Billy took a very short trip through time, made a peewee jump of only ten days, so he was still twelve, still touring the West with his family. Now they were down in Carlsbad Caverns, and Billy was praying to God to get him out of there before the ceiling fell in.
A ranger was explaining that the Caverns had been discovered by a cowboy who saw a huge cloud of bats come out of a hole in the ground. And then he said that he was going to turn out all the lights, and that it would probably be the first time in the lives of most people there that they had ever been in darkness that was total.
Out went the lights. Billy didn't even know whether he was still alive or not. And then something ghostly floated in air to his left. It had numbers on it. His father had taken out his pocket watch. The watch had a radium dial.
Billy is still on his family vacation, this time in the depths of Carlsbad Caverns. He is still twelve and still very anxious. This time, instead of worrying about falling off a cliff into the Grand Canyon, he is waiting for a ceiling of rock to collapse on top of him. There are also clouds of bats and total darkness to fuel his fears. Basically, it sounds like the entire trip has been an exercise in phobias and self-doubt for him.
Unlike Billy Pilgrim, my family trip has been quite positive. I spent today shopping with my kids and wife. Toys "R" Us, Barnes and Noble, and Journeys Footware. Chuck E. Cheese for lunch. It was a really relaxing morning and afternoon. No crises. No bloodshed between siblings. In fact, my daughter and son acted as though they really liked each other. Remarkable.
This afternoon, we drove to the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center to visit my brother. It only took about 15 minutes to get there. My brother was in really good spirits, sitting up in bed, laughing and joking around with my son. We stayed for about two hours, and I don't think my son stopped talking the entire time. I may be wrong, but I think my son's visit was really good medicine for my brother.
My brother has lost a lot of weight. He's cold all the time. I assume that is due to poor circulation because of his damaged heart. He told me that he walked a quarter mile today--three laps around the hospital ward. To me, he appears much stronger, and that buoyed my spirits, as well.
So, tonight is not about total darkness. Tonight, I see some light for my brother, a radium dial of hope. He will be coming home, after his doctors adjust his medications and determine his best course of treatment. Yes, he won't be able to carry water heaters out of basements anymore, but he may be able to live independently. Take care of himself.
Saint Marty is thankful for a day filled with happiness and possibility.