posted on Oct, 23 2011 @ 05:31 PM
Of my closest friends, I've known Chester the longest. He and I were the only two musicians we knew in our little town, and as teenagers, we learned
how to jam from each other. We also learned how to be cool, how to break the law, and how to survive on the street from each other. In essence, we
raised each other as adults; well, if what you consider being an adult involves competing with the rest of humanity, surfing the waves of opportunity
and misfortune, and mixing it up within the court of the king without exposing yourself as the bumbling neophyte that we each are deep inside.
The rest of it - loving honestly, serving graciously, and committing fully to that which is greater than oneself - came from other teachers as I grew
from boyhood. Chester was the counterbalance to all that. If there's a Heaven at the end of all of this, neither he nor I have any business awaiting
us within its walls. While I'm as prone to forgiving my own sins as anyone else, I'm not delusional. I know where Chetty and I have been, and what
we did when granted the option to do the right thing.
I got a call from Chester last night. He'd been in a car accident, and while it seemed as if it was one of his "dude, you will not believe what
happened to me" calls, after a short bit, I became aware that this call was very different; if only in why he felt the need to call. And the
truth is that unless you were me, and unless you'd known Chetty as long as I have, the real impetus behind the call would've slipped right past you.
After all, both he and I are experts in cloaking our motivations. What he was calling to tell me was that he was - most likely - on his way out of
Chester's been dealing with Type II Diabetes for 10 years now. His first sugar emergency happened as the dust cloud from the 2nd tower (WTC#1) was
still making its way through lower Manhattan on Sept 11, 2001. I remember arriving at my brother's house - where Chet and I had been building a deck
- as he was being packed into a car and rushed to the ER with what turned out to be a blood sugar level well over 400. From there, he began his life
of refusing to take the issue seriously, periodically conducting master classes in how to flagrantly leverage modern medical technology on behalf of
doing exactly what you want in spite of the deleterious impact it all will obviously have on your chronic condition.
Maybe it's true that he should've dropped for good years ago, and due to his own belligerent disregard. He'd be the first to agree with anyone
suggesting it. Still, I've been glad that he's survived. Last night was the first time that either of us seriously considered his condition to be
The night before, he'd been driving from his mom's place in Spartanburg SC to the little mountain retreat he maintains in the northeast corner of
Georgia, after having a 40 minute blackout of some sort that scared the sh*t out of the poor woman. Like most primal beasts, Chet felt the need to get
back to his home as soon as his stability returned, regardless of the fact that climbing into that truck and driving off alone was clearly the wrong
choice, given what had just occurred. It was another hour into the journey, when the blackout returned, and his near death adventure began as his
truck left the highway and plunged down a 50 foot embankment, rolling some number of times and resting on its top amidst heavy brush and small broken
Luckily, his launch into the darkness had been witnessed by other motorists, and there was a contingent at the top of the embankment, shining
flashlights and calling him back up from where his truck rest. Lucky, too, was the fact that he'd suffered no serious injury. He'd even had the
strength to make the climb to the road surface on his own. Wondrous technology those seat belts and air bags are. He'd woke up hanging from his belts
with deflated bags from one end of the cab to the other.
"All I remember is screaming 'No! No! No!', but it wasn't me screaming," he said, trying to describe the experience. "I mean, it was me, but I
wasn't doing the screaming as far as I could tell. It was like I was in the cab with me, while that me was screaming."
"That's kinda what they say about Near Death Experiences," I said. "Like you're there, but..."
"I know," he said. "That's what I'm saying. I was there but I was like hanging out and it was like I wasn't worried about sh*t. Not about any of
it. I could feel the truck going down the hill, and it rolled, but I was like it was a roller coaster ride or something like that. Like it wasn't
anything to be afraid of.
"And I never went upside down. The whole inside of the truck just spun around me as I was there. Like I didn't have a body that was part of what was
going on. Not until the whole thing finally stopped. Then it was like I was sitting there and looking down at the floor, where there was...like it was
a flashlight on the floor. And I'm thinking 'Why's there a flashlight on the floor?', but it turned out to be the dome light on the ceiling, but I
didn't know it until I came around better and realized that I was actually upside down. Until I came around better, I thought the dome light was a
flashlight or something at my feet. Really f*cked up, man."
"Yeah, and then I'm hearing 'Climb to the light!'. Voices coming from a distance, and I finally realize that I'm in my truck and it's all
smashed, and I gotta get out. All this smell of gas, and I can hear those voices, but now it sounds real, and not like I'm dead or something and
being told to 'Go to the light'... y'know...? I can see through the side door window that's gone that there are flashlights up there, and people.
So, I crawl out and make my way through all that crap my truck's upside down in, and get up the embankment."
"So, it was a sugar thing?"
"Well, yeah," he said. "They tested me in the ambulance and it was over 400, but I didn't have anything to eat for hours, and then, when they hit
me with insulin, I dropped to like 60, and they had to start feeding me ice cream and candy and stuff to bring me back up. Up and down and up and down
It was then that I realized that he wasn't calling about a car wreck that he'd survived, but that this call was about the very real possibility that
he wasn't going to survive the diabetes condition, and that it could take him out at any moment - literally.
"Why are you home right now? Why did they let you walk out of the hospital?"
He laughed. "Dude, I don't have any insurance. They have to take me in, but they aren't required to keep me there after they've stabilized me. Not
if I can't pay."
"But they know that your sugar will spike or evaporate again. They do know that, don't they?"
"Well, yeah. Of course they do. They're doctors. They know that stuff. But they know that I can't pay too. They have to cut me off somewhere. They
got me stable for the moment, so that's the cut off."
My mind was racing, and while some people might find fault in what I did next, Chester completely understood. In fact, it became really clear that
what I did next was what he'd hoped I'd do for him. I began preparing him for what was likely the next thing he'd be dealing with. Passing over to
the eternal realm.