Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Cold Room and A Cold Message

The words from the radio, "On a cold and gray Chicago morn another little baby child is born in the ghetto, and his momma cries" as I listen to Elvis sing I can hear the phone ring downstairs. The voice of Elvis continues and then I hear my mother gasp and begin to cry herself. My bedroom is unheated and cold so it takes a moment to get our from under the covers and head for the stairs. I open the door and the kitchen and dining room are to my left. My mom is crying and my dad is hanging his head. My Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucille are at the table with them.

My dad tells me that the V.A. hospital in Allen Park has just called and a cold voice using cold words tells the Galloway family that Thomas Galloway has expired just minutes ago. The coming hours are a blur and yet a flurry of activity. A call to a funeral home, people in the house, friends calling, sports fans calling and crying. A newspaper calls and words are expected to give detail to a young life, a big Marine, put into a grave, not by an enemy bullet but by an enemy in his blood.

It was early May when Tag first called to give us the devastating sentence that would lead to his death. He had been promoted and his marine buddies had punched him in the arm to congratulate him. Days later he was black and blue from his shoulder down to his hand. The Naval hospital in Pasadena diagnosed him with leukemia and he was headed home as soon as possible. Once in Allen Park at the hospital the full extent of his illness would come down on us like a wrecking ball turning brick to crumbs. Within a couple of weeks massive blood transfusions were required and people from all over the downriver area gave their precious gift.

Tag fought hard and had some brief times of strength and we hoped for recovery. But, when he went back into the hospital as the Oak and Maple leaves came down he commented to my dad that he would not be getting out this time. He never made it home again. They say that the line of cars for his military funeral was a mile long. It didn't matter to any of us at the time. We only knew that our mom and dad were burying our brother.

My parents were never the same and neither were we. The years have come and gone. In 1987 I conducted the funeral for my dad and he was laid to rest next to Tag and my mom. All of us question the unexplainable and we are left with no answer. At times we even doubt the wisdom or even existence of God. Thousand of troubled souls abandon faith and embrace nothingness and emptiness. I have traveled the road of doubt and have questioned the very truth of God.

I am glad that I doubted and questioned. I am glad that I honestly searched for purpose and meaning for mankind. In my search, which has taken me some years, I am convinced more today than ever before that: He was, He is, He always will be. In spite of my belief or unbelief He is.

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