My Journey pt 5: A Virtual World vs A Real World

Of all the posts I’ve put on this blog, this one has been the hardest to write. But I have to finish the story, because the ending is full of grace, and even though this part is dark the next part is full of light and God’s glory. But most of all I have to be obedient.

A few months before I moved out of my parents house and became Brad’s roommate, I bought a new laptop with my hard earned money. It is a good Dell, that I’d recommend to anyone looking to buy one. Along with the laptop I bought a game, that I had been dying to get, World of Warcarft. WoW had been a huge hit with the gaming nerds like myself and I was dying to get it. Prior to this I had heard a lot about MMPORG’s, but I had never played one. I had played a few RPG’s (KOTOR, FableJade Empire, and Mass Effect) and really liked the genre, so I couldn’t wait to play with millions of others. But the cost of the game + the monthly fee + the cost of Internet + a crummy computer + poor college student with fraternity dues meant that I would have to wait. So when I got out into the real world with a real job and money to burn (not literally) and quite a bit of free time on my hands there was no stopping me. My first few weeks and months playing the game, were spent learning about the world, learning the terminology, learning how to play, and making friends that, while I would never meet most of them, I spent more time talking to them then I did some of my real world friends and sadly to say some of my family. While my guild was never the most successful one in all of the gaming world, we did pretty well, and I’m proud of all that we accomplished in that virtual world. And yes there was pinch of sarcasm included in that last sentence. I invested two years of my life into this game, and it wasn’t cause the game was all that. It was cause I had friends there, I was accepted. In that virtual world I could be a leader, when in the real world I was lost, and I could be the hero, when in the real world I felt like a zero. For a year I was also involved in a long distance relationship with a girl that played the game too. Every night I would be on-line raiding, farming, pvping, questing, leveling, or just hanging out. Most weekends I’d be on-line 10-12 hours straight doing the same thing. I’m sorry if you feel like all of this is too much information, but I’m trying to get convey how wrapped up in this game I had become. And how likely it would be that I’d still be wrapped up in this game, if my world had not been turned upside down by God.

In summer of that year, my dad stepped down from ministry to deal with some issues that he had been struggling with and was unable to get victory in without devoting his full attention to them. By stepping down he was able to admit before the entire congregation his problem and finally be free to get some help. I can still remember talking to him before that meeting, he asked me to read the letter he had written and offer any advice I could give. I wish at that time I could have comforted him, but I wasn’t able to come up with anything profound to say. Thankfully where I lacked, God provided. You see he was worried about the congregation’s reaction, to what many would call a minor sin. He was worried they would think less of him, but when the time came and he stood up before them in true humility. They rewarded his 20+ years of service and hard work by standing with him in his time of need. Their response was a witness to work my dad had done, the character of every single person there, and the grace of God. So for a season my Dad stepped down from the bee-ma, he started getting the counseling he needed and started working for Terminex. And for a brief moment it seemed that this season of my dad’s life would be just that something temporary, something that we would eventually look back on as a living lesson, but that season didn’t go the way any of us thought it would go.

It was during this time period that I turned twenty-four years old (my birthday is in January btw). I don’t remember what we did for my twenty-fourth birthday, but what I do remember is noticing that my Dad was wheezing with every breath. At that time they weren’t sure why he was wheezing, but doctors thought he might have pneumonia. Just to be on the safe side the doctors were going to run a few tests. One of the first tests my dad took was a chest x-ray, and the results showed a mass on his lung. The first time the doctors went in to take a biopsy they found the mass to be tightly wrapped around a major blood vessel, so after a second try the test results showed the growth to be cancerous. When I first heard the news I was in shock, and a feeling that would be come all too familiar swept over me. For the longest time it felt like I was living in a dream world. Sure I had heard of friend’s relatives dying of cancer, and even my own Grandmother had passed way due to lung cancer. But cancer was something older people got, not someone as young and alive as my dad. It wasn’t long till he started chemo, you could see him growing weaker, as the poison designed to kill the cancerous cells, killed the healthy cells as well. I cut back my WoW playing making sure that I visited my mom and dad as many weekends as possible, but looking back now I wish I would have stopped playing altogether. At first it seemed as though the chemo was doing its job, and there was talk about my dad being reinstated as the Rabbi of Brit Hadasha. Almost a year to the day, my dad having been faithful, even while doing chemo, to complete his counseling sessions he was brought back to his rightful place of leadership. It was a happy time. However it didn’t stay that way, my dad continued to get sicker, the doctors tried new chemo combinations but they didn’t seem to work. (I’m sorry, I know I’m leaving stuff out, and maybe getting events out of order.) Towards the end of October, I was flying out to see the girl I met while WoW, whom I wasn’t “seeing” anymore, for her birthday. Since I lived a good hour from the airport and had a very early flight my mom offered to let me sleep at home and take me to the airport in the morning. What I hadn’t realized up to that point was how rough of a time my dad was having at night. I won’t go into it here, but even now the memory brings tears. How my family got through those months was a miracle in itself. My return flight on Monday got me in sometime in the early afternoon, so I stopped by to see how my dad was doing before I returned home. We had a great talk, probably one of our best since the trip to Virginia Beach. I still feel bad that I didn’t take more time to talk with him, but I “had” to get back so that I could wash my clothes and do all the other things that seemed so important at the time. Looking back though those things couldn’t have been more trivial. On Thursday while I was at work, I got a call from my mom that my dad was in the hospital, and I should come down asap. 

When I got to the hospital, he was already on quite a few drugs, and they had to incubate him. So he couldn’t talk. The doctors explained that the cancer had in my understanding eaten a hole into his tracea causing blood to fill the lower part of his lungs. For the time being the patch the doctor had put down there, plus the tube was keeping more blood from coming in but any sudden movement or violent cough could rupture it. In order prevent that from happening they gave him some milky white looking drug, that caused him to sleep. The doctors wanted to give his tracea a chance to heal and for a scab to form. So many people showed up, pretty much all of Brit and quite a few people that we hadn’t seen in years. Through 20 years of ministry my dad touched so many lives. On Saturday the doctors decided to try and take out the ventilator tube and allow him to breathe on his own. They slowly weened him off the milky drug that was keeping him unconscience and eventuallly they turned off the ventilator. My brothers Sam and Matt were out in the waiting room as my mom and I watched my dad slowly wake up. … He was only awake for a few seconds before the doctors realized there was a problem. Thankfully my mom was smart enough to get us both out of the room while the nurses started to work on him. It was then that we had to make a really difficult decision, Do we tell the doctor to patch the hole again and re-ventilate him? Or should the doctor just make him as comfortable as he can? It was a decision that neither of us wanted to make, but in the end we decided that putting him back through that torture would just be too much. My dad passed away early the next morning, with his wife, sons, and brit family by his side.