What are you afraid of? When the room is dark and you’re alone with the ticking clock what steals into your mind? Maybe it’s the mundane daily things. Maybe you’re lying in bed afraid you ate too much and have blown your diet. Or maybe you’re lying in bed afraid you’re not going to be able to eat for a couple of days because you have to feed your child instead. You might be afraid you left the thermostat up to high because it will run up your already exorbitant electric bill. Or you might be afraid the shelter is full and it’s going to be another cold night outside. We have other types of fears, some of which can be paralyzing. Some have a fear of aging. Some have a fear of living too long. Some have a fear of being destitute while the destitute have nothing left to lose. Some fear the future because they do not know what it will bring. While others lie in the dark fearing the past because they know exactly what it brings. Some people fear failure. They lay awake at night consumed with the drive to success while others have a fear of succeeding. They too lie in bed at night wondering when their world will collapse because it always does. Many people are afraid of being alone when they should really be afraid of being lonely. The two should not be confused. I’m never lonely when I am alone. Then there is death yet so many people are afraid to live. Many are afraid of death because they see it as an ending. Something is finished. Over. My sister told me she didn’t mind dying she just didn’t want to be there when it happened. Well honey this is probably the only thing you won’t be able to delegate. And I say I wouldn’t miss it for the world. That moment of transition from this vessel that we trudge around in for years into becoming…. just becoming.
I haven’t sat before this keyboard in years. This is my palette. My instrument. My voice. Like any artist or musician grief brings emotion. Emotion needs expression and this is the only way I have of letting go of the pain. You loved it when I wrote. Every time we spoke you asked when I would write again. So here I am brother. sitting at the desk I haven’t sat before in years. It’s a beautiful day in the mountains. The sky is cloudy but the only rain that is falling is landing on these keyboards while I’m trying to type. It’s mating season at the lake and the geese are fearless and loud. I have my door open and somehow the sound of all the life outside lifts my heart slightly. I was absolutely giddy when you came up here to see me. I’m sure you realized that when I ran outside and threw my arms around you. I remember holding that hug and squeezing. I don’t know if it made you uncomfortable and I don’t care. I am an extreme empath and I absorb other people’s energy and I retain that memory. We were chest to chest for a reason. I wanted to feel that beautiful energy and be filled by your loving heart. And I was. I feel it right now sitting right here and the tears are accompanied with a smile now. We had a wonderful time just sitting and talking. You my friend haven’t changed. You were sweet to a fault, and you were a mountain of a man. You could have been a bully, but you were just the opposite. You became a preacher, and I became an outlaw. Now I guess I’m just still becoming. I wish you could have stayed longer… You spoke about your family, and I could hear the pride in your voice. I asked you to preach at my funeral and you said you already knew what you were going to say. Tim, I don’t think you have any idea how much that meant to me. There’s no one else. I know you’re here with me today. I have felt you around me, as I always do when someone I love crosses over. I also know that feeling will not last. This sense that I have right this minute of you standing behind with your hand one my shoulder while I write this is overwhelming, but it will be gone at any moment, like now. What will remain embedded in my being forever is the energy from that hug. You have become part of me. You have made me a better man and every time I hug someone else, I will share your energy. Your kindness will spread through loving embraces that will traverse time and generations. You are eternal. You are my brother. I love you and until our next hug I must let you go.
Changes. Transitions. From the moment of conception until our last breath when we make that final transition we are changing. We evolve and then we devolve. We crawl as babies because we can’t walk and I promise you I’ve taken care of enough of the elderly to say with the utmost confidence many of us will crawl again.
So here I am transitioning. I lost sight in my right eye December 3, 2020. The story is irrelevant. The loss was instantaneous and the pain can not be adequately by the author. Will it return? Don’t know. But this is where I am. There is nothing I can do to affect the outcome. I pray. Not just now or not because of this. I pray because I’m blessed. I pray to give thanks and I never ask for anything for myself. But now I do. I don’t, however, pray for healing. When my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 56 his response was “everybody’s got something”. So that’s what i pray for. I pray for the strength of character and fortitude to deal with my “something” with the grace and dignity and poise that my father dealt with his. That is an extremely high bar.
For the last couple of years I have noticed a discernible change in my vision. Strange “headaches” that just hit with an explosion behind my eyes. They wouldn’t linger. Just bam… and in a few seconds they would be gone. It has deteriorated to the point that I have trouble seeing clearly in almost anything less than perfect light.
I went to the eye doctor yesterday and he did several different test and took some pictures. He told me that they would be sent to the doctor in Atlanta and they would review the material. If they see something they usually call before the end of the day… wrong. Thirty minutes later a call from the Atlanta VA from Dr. Pleasant Female Voice (PFV). Dr. PFV asked, ” Is this Edward H. Deeb Jr. last four 1725?”….You have to love the personal touch…” Mr. Deeb you have macular degeneration.”
There was no need to ask to many questions. I am familiar with the disease through my work and through my mother’s diagnosis. There is no cure. There really isn’t any treatment. It progresses in three stages. Early…Mid…Late. Start to finish ten years to being legally blind. According to Dr. PFV I’m in the Mid. Probably 3, maybe 4, years into the measurable progression of the disease. She said she could send me some vitamins and suggested occupational therapy.
She also asked me if I smoked and I said,” Yes ma’am. Not that many cigarettes but a fair amount of cannabis.” Dr. PFV chuckled and said,”I would advise you to quit smoking cigarettes, Mr Deeb.” I knew I liked her. ” The cannabis will not hurt your eyes. In fact some studies suggest otherwise. This disease is usually found in adults much older, Mr Deeb. ” I already knew that. Most diagnosis are around 80 year of age.
The way I see it…. I am blessed. God has given me so many beautiful memories. I cherish EVERY sunrise. Bright and brilliant! Blasting away shadows with pastel hues of color or slow and still. Just a lightening of dark to varying shades of grey. They are beautiful. I sincerely absorb smiles from little children and old folks. My soul has soaked in not only my own joy and suffering but also that of all the people I have loved, hated, protected or pursued. I know now why the Lord has made me an extreme empath. When my sight is gone I will be able to absorb energy … good or bad… to feel others pain and suffering. Sometimes what we see gets in the way of what we feel or should be hearing.
By losing my sight I have to wonder what else will happen? I’ve heard other senses become enhanced to compensate. Will I become more aware of the sounds that God has given me? Will I be a better conductor of the images that flow through my mind now even though I posses the ability to see? I don’t know. Life is nothing but a transition. From the moment we are conceived until the final transition when we are received. I tell people every day I wake up with a pulse is a good day…. and the day I wake up without one will be a glorious day… That’s the wat I see it.
A solitary tree stands on the hill
It has stood for all time. It stands still.
Its bark scarred. Its branches bare.
The weary warrior will find slumber there.
He drops his gear. He’ll close his eyes.
He’ll just rest here until the others arrive.
For shed no tears. He did not die.
He’s feasting in the halls of Valhalla
telling warriors tales and brothers lies.
Dedicated to Command Sargent Major Michael J. Deeb
Everyone that knows me knows I am of middle eastern descent and feel passionately for the atrocities happening now. If you have ever wondered how things got this bad let me try to explain it from a different point of view.
The big war had just ended. it was the late 1940’s and the cloud of destruction had just settled.It was called a world war because it literally encompassed the world. It was everywhere! Asia! All of Europe! Africa! Everywhere but right here… We have continued to farm and raise our families. The madness never to touched us. Then some people came….. They told me that I had to move. They told me I had to take what I could carry, including my family and leave my ancestral home. My family has lived here for generations. My children were born and raised here as was I.
What is the reason for me to leave? Well you know there was just a big war? Yeah I know.. Well during that war there were millions of Jews killed. I heard that to and I mourn for them. But that has nothing to do with me. Well yes it does because that’s why you have to move. See when the Jews were killed in Europe and all their homes and possessions were taken they became displaced. They had nowhere to go so the nations of the world got together and decided to give them your home. What? Why my home? Why not the homes of the people that did these terrible things to the Jews? I have no problem with the Jews! my sister in law is a Jew! My neighbors are Jews! Our families have lived together for generations! Do they have to move? No they do not. They will keep their home. But why MY house? Why my house? Because the nations of the world decided that the Jews were promised this land by their God so you have to move. But we have the same God! God made promises to Hagar and to Ishmael! Do not Gods promises mean anything to anyone else? Why just the Christians and the Jews? I will NOT move!! Sir, you WILL move!! You Do NOT want to put your family through the experience of being forcibly removed by the government! Oh you mean like they did to Jews in Europe? Sir, I am but one man and my first responsibility is to my family… so I will leave my home. But you hear this. You make sure your children and their children hear this. I do not have an army but I will fight you. I will teach my sons how to fight you and their sons until the sun no longer rises and there is eternal darkness over the land… or until I am back home…. There will be no peace.
A simple explanation as to how we got here today.
For some reason, unknown to myself, I thought of a resident I was lucky enough to meet at the nursing home. This wasn’t a very old man. He was maybe in his early 70’s. He had dementia and would often for no reason and with no warning just lay down on the floor and most often cry softly. The first time I saw this I immediately laid down next to him. Another CNA showed up out of nowhere with two pillows and a blanket and then backed off. Here we were. Two very large men laying down on the floor in the middle of the hallway in a very active nursing home… in the middle of the day.
Don’t ask me why I did this. This was in no training or seminar yet it was my immediate and most natural response. I’ve seen others do this. First responders like EMT’s, firefighters, police. I think there are several driving factors. For me it’s the eyes. Everything is raw and real in the eyes. Whether it be panic, fear, anger, love, frustration, encouragement or hopelessness, it can be seen in the eyes. Even dementia cannot take that away. And it is not the look in the other persons eyes that is important. It is the look in my eyes. They have to see that they are safe. They have to SEE that the words they are hearing have truth. They have to know that no matter where they are they can look you in the eye and know it’ll be alright. The only way I know to accomplish that is to meet them where they’re at.
When I was a little boy jumping off the stool
I would do anything just to get a smile out of you
Then I was a soldier floating on the clouds
jumping out of airplanes just to make you proud
I never made you happy and I never knew your pain
but I would give anything to try to make you smile again
Now I am an old man there’s nothing left to do
I hope I can make you smile the next time I see you
In a conversation with my son one word brought a flood of memories rushing back. the word was homeless. I immediately thought of my mother and a ride we took. We pulled up to a busy intersection in Macon where a man was standing with a sign. One word. Homeless. Mom dug in her purse and handed me a five dollar bill to give to the man which I did. I couldn’t speak. This was completely out of character for my mother. When I regained my senses I asked her and she told me the following.
” I had a dream last night that frightened me to my core. I dreamed that I was in my 20’s and was lost in Atlanta. No one would help me. I had no money. I had no food. I had no car and most frightening of all was I had no place to go. There was no destination I was just lost begging for help and no one heard me. I know that man will probably go spend that money on liquor but that is not my concern. I realize I have not been as good a Christian as I could have been. He may be hungry. Eddie that was more than a dream I had. I think I’m being prepped. I think Jesus put that man there to see if I was listening.”
Mom died a month later.