When we were told my mother was dying on Aug 1 I had many things that were running through my mind. One of which was regarding a trip to Africa that was scheduled to depart on Sep 3.
In the world of over promise under deliver that is death timeline guessing I kept getting estimates of 6-12 months. This was always given with a caveat of “optimistically”. I finally cornered Doc Wagner who was probably one of the smartest guys I’d ever met while simultaneously being the most socially inept. While all of his classmates in college were carrying on with beer bongs he was probably enjoying an exciting game of star trek trivia.
It was Doc Wagner that said one phrase that I remember all too well. “Weeks not months”. It was sometime early in the first week of August. I had to make a decision of whether or not to go to Africa. At the time I dropped an email to my friend Nick who is with Creation Festival and told him I couldn’t go. It’s not like you can catch a flight out of Uganda on the cheap if your mom dies.
But I had this feeling. Those who know me know I’m not a guy that says God speaks to me. In fact I’ve never heard the voice of God audibly before and I’m always intrigued when someone says they have. Not so much because I don’t believe them but more in a wondering what it actually sounds like. I personally hold to the hope that He sounds like James Earl Jones but after that Jim Carrey movie I’d be OK if He sounded like Morgan Freeman too.
I also wonder if when God speaks to someone does it count as infallible and become on the same level as scripture? That feels very Mormon to me. I digress.
The promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31 was that God would write His will on our hearts and our minds. I had this sort of “knowing” in my heart and mind that it was OK to go. I told my mom. I’m not entirely sure she understood the implications because she was jacked on morphine, but she seemed supportive. I emailed Nick back and said never mind. I’m going.
At the time I wasn’t sure what “ok to go” really meant. I think I thought she would live longer. I honestly didn’t have clarity one way or the other. Now I know. It really is OK. Mom will just have a different vantage point of the trip. Before it was just pictures. Now it’s a ringside seat.
Less than a month later I’m on the eve of leaving for that trip to Africa; Uganda to be specific. I’ve packed two suitcases full of stuff. One for me personally and the other full of a dollar store buying binge; bubbles, balls, colors, books, construction paper, more bubbles and candy.
I’m all stocked up on the meds, the shots and the snacks. I’m thinking I could possibly lose some weight with natures own diet plan. For that I have purchased Imodium. I plan on taking it by the fistful. I know it could have the opposite affect but considering the toilet options that I’m sure to be facing I’m uniquely ok with that. The lat time I was on foreign soil I ingested some sort of parasite that literally wrestled my colon to the ground.
I’m leaving with an appropriate level of trepidation that comes when you’re on the other side of the globe from my wife and children. I’m also going with a certain amount of anticipation that life will never be the same for me. With everything that has happened on my journey this past month, Africa is a perfect crescendo. Or perhaps it’s just a starting point for something entirely new…