“But life’s not the breath you take”¦”
Dateline: Christmas 2014
I don’t know what God wants.
I don’t even know if I believe there is a God, I tend to believe more that aliens put us here, seeded this planet so to speak. I tend to believe all those UFO’s we see in the sky are just the newest attraction in the Disneyworld of 3014, long lines to FastPass the real WayBack Machine ride. Turns out Peabody was right.
Then comes a ladybug.
Comes a ladybug on a 24-degree Connecticut winter day. A ladybug sitting on our kitchen counter next to the toaster and bagels.
Comes a ladybug on the outside of our double pane replacement windows, on a gray New England 29-degree winter day.
Now please don’t cite scripture to me, don’t bible me about God, or Jesus, or whomever or whatever it is that you pray to, I don’t need it and frankly don’t give it much cred.
Don’t need any of it because there was a ladybug on my Pella window screen.
And on my speaker phone, a young man in Austin, Texas, 25 year old David Cosner was telling me about”¦
“¦his latest hospitalization for lung problems, his 191st hospitalization”¦
“¦his 14-day coma”¦
“¦his 10-day coma where he lost 2/3 of his right lung”¦
“¦and then he said, “db, can I tell you a quick story.”
“It’s a story about the good luck charm my Mom gave me. She gave it to me the time the doc found a fungus growing in my lungs. He told me I had a 15 percent chance of living through the weekend, but my mother told me, told me that this good luck charm was special “¦”
I wrote down “charm” and “special.”
“We were driving home from the doctors, I was sitting in the car crying, my Mom was just holding my hand, I thought db, thought this was it, they had given me some new medicine in the chance it would help.”
I wrote down, “chance” and “help.”
“What’s the charm, dude.”
“A glass ladybug. Mom told me that if we see a ladybug this weekend, that everything would be alright.”
I wrote nothing down.
“It was Super Bowl weekend, cold here in Austin. When we get home, both Mom and I go to my desk and computer to look something up (he told me what but I didn’t write it down) but as we get to the desk we bump it”¦”
“¦and I just sat at my desk in my home office….
“”¦we bump the desk and out from underneath my keyboard, out walks a ladybug.”
“¦looking at the ladybug clinging to my screen window on a very cold December day.
“”¦the breathing in and out”¦”
My safe place, is the song, “Let It Be.”
I put my big, serious, Sennheiser Studio headphones on, opened iTunes, clicked on Let It Be, and hit Repeat One Song icon.
If you hack my iTunes account, in my library you will see I have played that song, 1,141 times.
I’ll crack the 12-hundred play mark today. Easy.
My head was bowed over my keyboard.
My hands were clasped.
A teardrop puddled around the “m” key.
I just spent 00:54:33 on my cell phone doing an interview with David Cosner.
And I need a place to hide, a safe place, a place where faith is possible, a place where miracles are possible, a place where “holy” is possible.
David Cosner, is a guy who loves to fish. Even if this is on a fish site, that’s the last time I will mention him and fishing.
David Cosner is a guy with Wegener’s Granulomatosis of his lungs, so rare of a disease that only 0.06% of the population of the United States contracts it, a rare disease that if left untreated can kill you pretty quick.
There is no cure.
And that’s the last time I will mention anything to do with David’s health.
This isn’t a story about sickness”¦
“¦it’s a story about”¦
The miracle of, the human spirit.
“”¦the breathing in and out”¦”
“I’m here on earth, I believe, to prove to people that all things are possible, that even in the face of sickness, you never want to give up fighting, sure it gets you down, but you never let it keep you down.”
I don’t know if walking on water, is the truth, or marketing.
I don’t know if loaves and fishes, is the truth, or just marketing.
Human spirit though, is a flat out miracle.
Human spirit is the spark inside of us, that makes us human. Without it, no way we walk into a hospital for the 191st time. No freakin’ way we walk back out.
“I’m very competitive db “¦ huge “¦ I really believe it is the fight in me that will beat the disease in me.”
Then: “I have come too far, gone through too much, to give up.”
“”¦that gets you through the day, ain’t what it’s all about”¦”
I hate to tell you this, but you are dying.
The moment of our birth starts the countdown clock, to our demise.
According to the people who count people, there have been about 108 BILLION people who have walked this earth going all the way back to those who took the first barefoot steps to those now in baby booties.
Every one of us on this planet alive today only makes up about 6-7 percent of every one who has ever been alive here.
56 million of us leave the planet every year.
130 million arrive here every year.
We come, we go, some are here not so long, others, a long time, and way to long for most of them to be driving.
“Through all my sickness I have learned to live in the moment, don’t worry about the past, don’t worry about the future, live today, live NOW.”
Me, I’m not so much a “now” guy as a “next” guy.
That is, I WAS a “next” guy until last Christmas.
Last Christmas, when I thought I was out of, “now.”
“”¦you just might miss the point trying to win the race”¦”
“Christmas is very important to me db, very important not for the gifts of things but for the gift of people, my family, my girlfriend, being around all my family and friends, but, but, you know, it seems like I’m always sick around Christmas, around the holidays.”
Yeah, I know.
The day after Christmas last year I was lying unconscious on my bedroom floor.
I remember getting out of bed.
I remember my son picking me up off the carpet.
The day after Christmas last year, I was in grave condition in a hospital, on my daughter’s 31st birthday. That night, alone in the hospital room, a priest gave me the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
I was asked to confess.
I was given Communion.
A blessed hand knit “Healing Blanket,” was draped across my chest. I woke up to find a rosary wrapped around my right hand.
I was out of, Nows.
“Lots of times, I have almost died “¦”
Take this for what it is, but when a 25-year-old tells me that, I lose a little bit of faith, when I see the carnage we leash on each other, I lose a little bit of faith, when emails come, when a text comes from a friend with the word “I” and “cancer” in it, I lose a little bit of faith.
“”¦ almost died “¦ some times it takes me 7 days to be able to walk the 10 feet to the hospital room door “¦”
I covered once, a newborn placed in a microwave “¦ on high.
I covered once, a packed plane that flew directly into a mountain.
I covered once, a baby born with all his innards on the outside.
I covered once, the dump pile of dead and dying fight dogs.
I knew a 6-year-old girl who died on the Wish bus to Disney Land.
My best friend was melted by the Cong with flamethrowers.
I have lost a lot of a little bit of faith.
“”¦ hospital room door, but you know what db, I think my story is payback for all that. My story getting out there, because if my story gets out and it helps a person, just one person out there keep going, keep fighting, then you know what db, then you know what, all, ALL of this will have been worth it, worth everything if it helps just one person.”
And with that, my faith comes back.
“”¦life’s not the breaths you take”¦”
Through the speaker phone, I hear this young man try to catch his breath as he talks. He is clearly winded, and as a human being, and as a father of a son his age, I can not help but worry. I can not help but be sad. I can not help but say a silent prayer.
“db, the trouble with this disease I have is that it keeps coming up, keeps coming back at me, I think, I think it may be something deeper.”
And with that sentence, my reporter shield melts, and I look at the speaker phone, and I pull up his photo on Facebook, and I am suddenly, just a dad, the soul of a father makes me put down my pen.
“David, my friend, in life we are not defined by what we are, but by what we do, don’t be defined by your body, define yourself by your mind, by your soul.”
Define yourself by the kindness you show to man.
Throughout my life, I have had the rare opportunity, the honor, the privilege of every once in a while meeting the kind, in man.
As a lone tear hit my speakerphone. I knew, the young voice I was hearing coming from it was the innocence, was the hope, was the miracle within man.
The miracle called, Love.
A Ladybug Christmas.
From David: “When I saw that ladybug crawl out from under my computer, db it is hard to put this into words, but when that ladybug crawled out, I had the glass ladybug my Mom gave me in my wallet, when I saw it, I, I, you know just had an overwhelming sense of God “¦”
Believe, if you believe.
“”¦an overwhelming sense of God, I just started crying db “¦”
Wonder, if you wonder.
“”¦just started crying db because at that moment I knew I was going to be okay.”
“David, if you remember just one thing I say, please, please remember this: I believe in miracles. I believe that miracles happen around us each and every day, but we just don’t take the time to slow down, live the now as you say, take the time to see the miracles, see the message being sent our way.”
I don’t know, what God wants.
Don’t know what he wants from us, from me, from David.
But here is the exact very last thing I said to David on the phone.
Here is the very last thing I will say to you this Christmas.
Love is the answer.
“David, believe with all your might in miracles, and trust me my friend, TRUST ME, miracles happen “¦”
Then I ended our conversation with this: “I don’t, for a moment, believe in what people call “¦ coincidence.”
And I choked when I said that, took a hitch in my lungs, lips went to wavering because what David didn’t know at the time “¦
“¦ didn’t know at the time “¦
“I don’t, for a moment, believe in what people call”¦coincidence.”
“¦ didn’t know at the time that in the palm of my hand, I was holding a ladybug who had just crawled across the notes of our conversation.
“”¦but the moments that take your breath away.”
The Breath You Take
Merry Christmas from Barb, Ashley, Jimmy “¦ and me.