"Ring them bells St. Peter ... "
Dateline: Where nightmares feed The wind blew through me, as did his words. The winds of Toledo Bend.
The words of Kelly Jordon. "db, I have to tell you something, but you can't tell anyone ... "
I was only backstage, back where they have the holding tanks for the bass, only went back there to see the "Biggin'" bass that Ish Monroe had in his bag, when KJ came up to me ..
. " ... come on over here I need to tell you something ..."
So we moved away from the tanks, moved into the folds of the backstage black drapes, moved close to each other to hear the low talk ride the wind. "
... db, I'm scared ... "
With the T-bend wind at my back, I smiled and put my hand on KJ's arm and I told him, "dude ... it will be fine, I know it's your first child and can be scary, but you'll be fine ... "
When I said that it was only a few hours since the wives of the family B.A.S.S. had thrown a baby shower for KJ's wife, Kerri ...
KJ and Kerri are expecting their first child, a baby girl, in several weeks, the beginning of June.
And he got close, leaned in to me, sucked in the T-Bend wind, shook as he stood there, and before he said another word the flags above us began to snap in the wind, the anglers in the tent held onto their baseball caps, and the dust blew, and a chair overturned, and behind us the waves beat on the rocks, and a bird hovered in the wind and with that wind came the horror. " ... db ... ah ... db ... I have cancer."
" ... where the four winds blow ... "
And the wind, and his words, took my breath away. And I wanted it to stop, stop blowing, stop talking, stop just stop, stop ... "
... I have melanoma ... "
The wind burst over the peninsula where we stood and slammed into my face, stunned my face, even though all the wind in Louisiana smashed into my body ...
I couldn't breathe, couldn't catch my breath, because as the fish were weighed in, as the crowd clapped, and the music played, all I kept hearing was ... "
...db ... I'm scared ..."
" ... have cancer ..."
" ... melanoma."
Even though KJ was standing right in front of me, all I saw was the shower gift I just gave Kerri for their baby girl, all I saw was the lump in Kerri's belly where the baby kicked ... "
... they found this growth on my shoulder ... "
And I'm shouting to myself, please dear God, stop this ... stop this wind ... stop the horror within the wind ... make this all go away.
"... I have to go to a specialist on Tuesday to see what if anything can be done ... "
And under the wind, and under the noise of the crowd, and under the laughs of the anglers at the tanks, I offer my good friend KJ, the only thing I can, the only thing I have to offer ... me.
"Dude, if you need anything ... "
I want to give him my blood if he needs it, I want to give him my shoulder if he needs it, I want to give him my life if he needs it. For KJ. For Kerri. But mainly for the tiny feet kicking within the belly of this family. As KJ walks away, I collapse on a metal strut that holds up the stage, and the wind attacks my back, and the words wound my heart.
" ... ring them bells with an iron hand ... "
We were fifth in line to ride the sky.
This past Monday at O'Hare ... United flight something ... window seat ... iPod headphones in my ears so no one would talk to me, the iPpod was still packed above me in the carry-on bin.
I was hiding behind white ear buds.
Watching the planes land, watching the planes take off, waiting for the peace that 30,000 feet above the earth brings. Horrors of earth, peace in the clouds.
The pilot was talking, the flight attendants walked the aisle, "Sir ... your seat belt please ... "
I never turned from the window, didn't feel my hands move, but heard the click, fourth in line now, come on United just get me in the sky, lost in the clouds, 30,000 feet above the horror that came on the wind. "
... db ... ah ... db ... I have cancer."
From the cabin speakers, "If you have any electronic device that has an on or off button make sure it is in the off position now please."
As I pulled the 'Droid out of my pocket I was about to hit the top on/off button without looking at it ... number three in line ... but glanced down and saw the green message light blinking, when I touched the screen I saw this: Visual Voice Mail from Kelly Jordon.
Dear fellow passengers around me, I'm sorry for your fate, but I'm going to listen to this voice mail, my on/off button will stay on for the next 32 seconds.
And this is what I heard:
"Hey db, it's Kelly Jordon. I just had my doctor's appointment moved up and they said it's a very good prognosis and they said it's on the surface and they said they are going to take it off next Friday and not to worry about it so things look a lot better ... "
Third in line now. And a tear rolled down my cheek as I collapsed in the seat, eyes closed, head against the head rest, waiting for the sky, until I felt a tiny gentle tap on my right arm. This is the exact text of the text message I sent back to KJ about that tap:
I'm on the runway in Chicago waiting to take off for a few days at home and I just listened to your VM and got tears in my eyes with the news at which point the lady next to me gently patted my arm and said don't be scared it will be alright ...
A stranger reaching out to a fear-of-flying passenger even though I couldn't wait to get into the peace of the clouds. ... and I said yes, yes it will ...
Second in line when KJ texted me back: Angels are everywhere. I read that last line over and over. And in the clouds came peace. In the clouds where the angels live.
" ... so the people will know ... "
Late last night I got this text message from KJ when I asked him if I could write about this, tell the world about something only a couple people knew.
Absolutely. It may help someone else get checked early before it's too late. Come Saturday I will once again be riding the clouds. Head in the upcoming second half of the Elite season, heart back home with my wife and family. And while within the clouds I will think of what KJ said, "Angels Are Everywhere," and I will look for them outside my window seat.
But as the clouds break, 30,000 feet below there will be the earth, and I will also know that down there, in the brown, in the yellow, in the light green, and in the green, there are also angels.
People, who while facing the greatest challenge in their lives, will open up their life for all to see in the hopes that by doing so, others, strangers, will be saved by the angels on earth. Especially those who wear a jersey. And with a bandaged shoulder, cradles a newborn child.
" ... ring them bells for the blind and the deaf
ring them bells for all of us who are left."
Ring Them Bells
Happy Easter. -- db
Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.