Wednesday, August 1, 2012
A Brief History of Wilmington NC – Evan’s perspective
This morning Evan woke up in Wilmington, NC at around 8:30 am and with that act a day of equally intense and juxtaposed emotions was begun. In the last 8 hours we experienced heavy concern, deep soul defining sadness, sweet uplifting joy, profound gratitude and humility, and then full circle to heavy concern tinged with hope. But as with all things these last six weeks nothing is realized without a firm foundation.
In this situation, the foundation laid was actually the big events of the past weekend: The Concert, and the Grand Opening of Evan’s Garden. With no reservations or qualifications, nor cynicism or sarcasm; both events were roaring successes. They of course could never have been realized without the overwhelming generosity of time, talents and gifts of friends and family. To try and frame the support; there were over 100 volunteers who participated in preparing a blank grass canvas into a warm and colorful place of peace and tranquility that is Evan’s Garden; On Saturday, over 30 volunteers, 4 gifted music groups (Erin Nenni, When Forever Comes, Scott Barton with his Vocal Flava, and The Josh Pepper Band), a talented Stage Manager, an amazing MC, and a gifted Director put on a near flawless highly professional event.
Evan kept his distance as he is want to do at the moment, but listened, watched and observed all the people and activities, all while tracking down technical support issues on Saturday, and designing the next element in his namesake garden on Sunday. That said, the intense level of activity took its toll and Monday was very much a crash and burn day that had his parents on their knees more than once seeking one more hour, minute or second of time.
By midafternoon Tuesday the emotional and physical effects of the weekend had worn off to a great extent and Evan coming out of the woods after battling an infection for the past 5 days perked up enough to say that he wanted to ‘go out’. These words are buzz words for his need to leave the place he feels will be his Waterloo. A decision was made to go to the beach, a final family beach vacation, the destination: Wrightsville Beach just outside Wilmington, NC. 2 hours away, Hotwire for hotel, and we were loaded in two cars (Evan travels with wheelchair, portable oxygen concentrator, 2 tanks of oxygen, pillow and 4 blankets, computer backpack) and on our way.
Wilmington has a special place in our hearts as it was one of the first places visited in North Carolina 10 years ago. Evan spent July 4, 2002 watching the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach Fireworks from the deck of a beach house on Topsail Island just up the coast. 3 years later he did his North Carolina City project on Wilmington, did you know that Walt Disney World could fit the entire City of Wilmington in its boundaries? In 5th grade he travelled to Wilmington Christian School with his own designed and built computer to win the State Science Fair. Since that time a visit a year to Wilmington with a requisite stop at the Trolley Stop hot dog restaurant became family tradition. Except we hadn’t been this year, but there was an itching in the pants and a searching for the chance.
Last night as we pulled into the hotel there was a heavy overcast and the streets were lively but dark. A late night food run came back wet but victorious and a midnight breakfast of chocolate chip waffles with syrup, bacon and eggs was hungrily devoured by a famished Evan. This would be a good time to note that it had been determined several weeks ago that the radiation therapy had sufficiently disabled (please read destroyed, crushed, liquidated or your own vernacular for severely damaged) the main tumors that there was no significant energy depletion from them; so that Evan’s weight loss was now only due to his own appetite. Enter Prednisone to reduce lung tissue swelling and its desirable side effect of appetite enhancer.
The sun rose at about 6:30 am this morning, but was nowhere in sight as the rain pelted down and wracked window and pavement alike, lightening sparkled and the wind whistled and howled around flagpole, lines and corners. There had been no family beach time last night and it looked doubtful at best this morning. When Evan woke up his eyes told a story of anxiety. This was not home, this was not familiar, this was not good. Effectively his trip came to an end when he took the medications necessary to calm him down.
After driving around Wilmington a la the late night drives to lull him to sleep when he was a baby, we gathered up our belongings and in the pouring rain left Wilmington behind Evan. During these remaining months with Evan there are diametrically opposed strands of thought that beg for attention: First is the strand that wants to secure memories by doing those things and going those places that will be indelibly etched upon the surfaces of all our minds never to be washed away; the second is the strand that never wants to know when the last time you’ll visit a memory place with Evan.
And so as the rain poured over the car, tears streamed down a face knowing that this was the last time Evan would be in a place so near and dear to his heart. Truly this treasured place of memories will never be the same in the future. A walk on the beach will bring back memories of carrying a little boy from surf to shower so as to reduce the pain of chafing sand inside a skin tight body suit. Or a calabash meal on the inland coastal waterway will conjure memories of family friends and a little boy with a boyish grin and quick wit. Even the wind whistling through the dune grass will draw out memories of children’s laughter echoing as they run through the hot sand to the waiting surf; prominent among them a boy dressed in royal blue from his head to his ankles. Yes, August 1, 2012 will mark the last day Evan was in Wilmington, but will also be a day that Wilmington will live in us.
An hour later as we traveled the flat ribbon of road that is I-40 in the coastal plain, the sun broke through the clouds and shone warmth and light on everything including Evan sleeping in the back of a cruising car. The warmth of the sun was as uplifting as the rain had been depressing and was a reminder that comfort follows heartache even if some time and distance must be traveled before it is realized.
Tears gave way to somber comforting joy. Comforting joy gave way for the humbling of being informed of a generosity beyond the means of most mortals. Our family, friends and none too few strangers who have become friends were able to help us raise slightly less than half our goal for Saturday night. This is not to be sneezed or sneered at, on the contrary it is something to be overjoyed about for we know the challenges of a down economy, many people gave to Evan to the point of hurting. We knew this and appreciated every last penny for it represented the best that people could do. As the evening wound to a close we also knew that the generosity of the players, teams, management and league office of the NASL had come together to allow accumulated funds to be 2/3 of the goal for Saturday.
When Lizy first began working for the Carolina RailHawks as the Head Athletic Trainer, she also became an employee of Selby and Brian Wellman the then owners of the team. It was a relationship at a distance, but the Wellman’s had a place in their hearts for Evan, for what he represented and for how he conducted himself. Being the owner of a minor league sports team is not an easy thing to do, and friends are few and far between just from the sheer logistics and influence that can be unseemly and destructive to team goals. That said, the Wellman’s went out of their way to give back to the community in so many big and little ways.
It can also be said that they never forget to take care of their own. Almost two years after turning ownership over to another entity, the Wellman’s did not lose sight of the importance of maintaining relationships, supporting the underdog and reaching out with a helping hand. With by far the largest single donation toward Miracle 2012: The Concert Selby Wellman donated a sum equal to the shortage of the nights goal and a little more. Humility is to know that some gifts when given are too great to be repaid, that the only appropriate response is gracious and thankful acceptance.
And so we stand humbled before our old friends, family, new friends, business partners and former employers; with a bowed head and grateful heart we acknowledge that we are not worthy of such divinely inspired gifts but we will accept them and use them wisely.
Exhaustion is now settling in on the rest of the family, and tomorrow we will once again seek to be revitalized by working on Evan’s Garden. If you would like to experience some peace and revitalization we invite you to come on by and we’ll put you to good use. To borrow the saying of a friend; “We started from dirt, and we’re gonna go back to dirt. We might as well get familiar with it in the middle”
Many peace and blessings to y’all. If we don’t see you in the garden, perhaps you’ll stop by to hear The Regulars as they Jam for Miracle 2012 on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7:00 pm at the Big Easy in Cary.