By Bruce A. Smith
Chapter 25 – The Blue Mist
At breakfast, I learned that I wasn’t going to have to organize any cooking for the 200 or so people at Unity as the Army had convoyed-in two mobile home-sized structures to be a mess hall and kitchen, along with a full staff of cooks. All the Men and Women of Honor had to do was take care of themselves and pitch in as we saw fit medically, which ended up being lots of little detail stuff, especially helping patients get settled in our convalescent facilities downstairs.
Nevertheless, after breakfast Adam and Naleef escorted Angie and her two sons to Unity for extra help. Travel was still restricted to authorized vehicles, so we had to escort our people coming in.
Jo took one of our Gators and ferried her daughters back to their home to assess things, and feed the dogs and cats. Two hours later, they came back noticeably changed. When I asked what had happened, they told me they had to bury their two dogs. Radiation, we all assumed, and would have been a tragedy for any two teenaged girls. But it seemed more than that, but only Jo was talking.
“The power is still off,” she said. “We don’t have any electricity or any water. But the phone is working and we have gas for the stove, but the house was cold and damp like it was dying.”
Ah, death is in the air, everywhere, literally and figuratively. An old way of life is dying right in front of our eyes.
When I shared my insight Jo just shrugged, and walked away to the girls’ room to put away the load of clothes she had brought back from her house. She looked like she was moving in, at least for a while. Monica tagged behind her with her own bundle of clothes, including a winter parka. But Tracey lingered.
“What do you think, Tracey?” I asked.
“I dunno, Dave. It was sad, really sad, to bury Tippy and Noble.”
“My condolences on losing your dogs, Tracey.”
“How are your cats?
“I don’t know. We couldn’t find them.”
“Uh-oh, that doesn’t sound good, Tracey.”
“Nope, it sure doesn’t.”
Death and uncertainty – the hallmark of this young child’s life these days. I changed the subject a little and moved towards practicality. Were the girls moving in?
“Your Mom and Monica sure look like they don’t want to sleep in your house, do they? Do you?”
“Nope. I wanna stay here, too. There’s lights here, and everything.”
“Like what else? What’s everything?”
“Well, like everybody’s here. We’re doing stuff, ya know, like helping people, and singing for Trey and Willy.”
“Yeah, that was cool yesterday, wasn’t it?”
“I think we did some good, too. I saw more color in their faces.”
“Yeah, well, I gotta go,” she said, cutting me off. Only so much discussion of life and death, I suppose.
I went to the kitchen and joined Ryan and Angie for another cup of coffee and to hang out at our little card table we had set-up there – the Unity oasis from all the Army stuff. A supply chopper had just come in with fresh vegetables and, boy, did fresh tomatoes look good. I snitched one and ate it like an apple.
“Watch it, Dave,” said Angie, “we got a lot of mouths to feed and everybody wants fresh veggies.”
“You’re right, Angie. Sorry. Put me on restricted salad. Seriously, whatever is fair.”
“Oh, Dave, shut up will you,” she said, and slapped me gently with a serving spoon for emphasis. “Just don’t do it again, okay?”
During the morning, Adam and Naleef had escorted two more staff into Unity: Ben, a very solid twenty-year old part-time criminal law student; and Jack, our weekend day leader, whom everybody admired.
Jack was one of our most solid guys and had come in from Paxton, a suburb on the west side of Worcester, a bit of a trek with all the roads blown apart in downtown. He couldn’t call us directly as our phones weren’t working, so he went to the soldiers at a west zone check point and got them to contact us. Both he and the soldiers knew of our situation from TV news reports, so he got choppered right to us via the Worcester airport to the high school, and we got him with a Gator. In actuality, North High, with its central location and large fields, was becoming the central airlift site for the Eastside. Adam and Naleef went down on a Gator to ferry Jack to Unity, and snooped around to see if they could get more fresh tomatoes – and bananas, which were becoming highly prized sweets.
Most of us spent the morning in our new role as orderlies, and we helped with the patients in the basements and moved bodies from triage – some went to an evac chopper, some went to the morgue on a cargo truck, and some came to the basement – mostly for a few days’ worth of anti-rad treatment and Unity TLC.
At lunch, I suggested to Adam that since we had two new male staff on siite, maybe he and I could think about going home for a bit. Adam surprised me with a non-committal grunt.
I wondered out-loud what more we needed to do for staffing, because in another seven days we would have full staffing probably since the radiation levels would be down to the point where folks could drive for an hour a day and not worry. But, the idea of leaving before then, when I actually tried to think about driving away, seemed impossible. How could I leave the guys – and everyone else?
Yet, I felt exhausted and wanted to leave. While talking I resolved to stay for the next week until travel was pretty much unrestricted. I was about to tell Adam this when he reached across the table.
“Dave,” he said.
“Dave,” he said urgently through clenched teeth, looking at me with fierce eyes.
“God dammit, Dave…. help me to the bedroom.”
Yikes. I hadn’t got it from the tone of his voice. He was in trouble.
I hurried around the table and got Ryan to assist me. We stood Adam up; he was weak in the knees. We started taking him down the south corridor to the men’s staff room when Terry stopped us.
“Adam, what’s wrong?” she demanded.
“I don’t feel well, Teresa. I want to lie down.”
“Bullshit, Adam. We’re taking you to triage. C’mon.”
We half-dragged Adam into the Commons room and the waiting arms of the medics.
Hovering over Adam, we received confirmation of his radiation sickness.
We were all taking HF-2200, vitamins, miso soup, and had been very cautious about dust, but it hadn’t been enough for Adam. And, he had had his midnight sky ride on that first night. Rad levels were still very high then, and he had received extreme exposure. Plus, he was eighty-three years old, even though he had told Terry he was eighty-one. Regardless, Adam Peronski was a very feisty, sharp-minded guy and critical to our well-being. I didn’t want to lose him.
After Adam had his blood and marrow drawn for tests, we took him on a gurney to the men’s staff bedroom.
Terry followed us, and catching her eye I turned to Ryan and said, “Let’s go big guy and see what needs to be done in the kitchen.”
We left Terry and Adam alone.
In the dining room, I whispered into Jack’s ear that Terry was with Adam and that I thought they shouldn’t be disturbed for any reason. He looked at me quizzically, and then Ben came over.
I told them briefly in code that Terry and Adam “go way back,” and now was a time for them to have “as much privacy as circumstances allow.” They got it.
When I finished, Ryan handed me a hand-drawn sign he had just made: “Do Not Disturb for Any Reason – Dave.”
“Shall I put it on the door to the men’s staff room, Dave?” Ryan asked.
“Yeah, Ryan, that’s a great idea. You must be psychic; I was gonna make the same exact sign, but you beat me to it.”
Ryan beamed, then looked down at the ground.
“Is Adam gonna die?” he asked.
“I dunno, Ryan. I hope not, but I think he is.”
I was right. Adam was gone by dinner time. The radiation had really torn up his lungs, and clots were pouring throughout his blood system. Within an hour he had a major stroke and then another a couple of minutes later he was gone. We didn’t even have time to get him on a medivac chopper.
We gathered in Trey and Willy’s room after supper for another round of healing. This night was pretty somber for we had just lost Adam, and Willy and Trey had lost all the gains they had made the night before. Trey’s breathing was painfully labored.
By instinct it seemed, we went to our same spots around the same guys that we had the night before. Captain Montoya and Specialist Mulhearn joined us as well.
Terry and Karen didn’t look like they could do a repeat of the prior night, especially Terry, whose eyes were red and almost swollen shut.
Even pistol-packin’ mommas have hearts that break.
“I’d like everyone to lay their hands like they did last night,” I called out. Everyone responded. They seemed grateful to have someone take the lead.
“I’d like everyone to imagine,” I continued, “in their mind’s eye, this room filled with a blue mist. You might have to close your eyes for this.” I closed mine, and then opened them a bit to see how the guys were doing.
Naleef closed his eyes but he was the only one. Kevin A’s were decidedly wide open. All the adults had their eyes closed and seemed relaxed, but not the guys. Nevertheless, I decided to proceed.
“I’d like you to imagine that this blue mist is a healing mist and with every breath we take, we take healing energy into our bodies. So, everyone, take a few, deep breaths. Feel a deep healing come into us.” I heard deep breaths throughout the room.
“Now, imagine that every time we exhale, this mist becomes energized with even more healing potential. It energizes and fills the room so much that the air, every molecule of air in this room, is fully charged with healing energy.”
We all breathed deeply.
“Now, with this complete healing energy in the air, imagine that Willy and Trey are filling their lungs with this great healing energy.”
Again we breathed deeply, but it was not as dramatic as the first few breaths. We were getting a rhythm, connecting to our deeper self, and breathing more softly.
“Now, imagine that the healing energy moves into our bodies from the air, into our lungs, into our blood vessels, and travels throughout our bodies.
“Continue to imagine that it moves now into Willy’s and Trey’s body. Every blood cell in Willy’s body and every blood cell in Trey’s body is now energized with healing energy. There is no place in the body that blood does not go, so in Willy and Trey every part of their body is receiving this special, wonderful, healing energy. Breathe deeply. Yes, just continue to breathe and imagine this healing energy flowing throughout Willy’s and Trey’s body.
“Now, imagine that so much healing energy is flowing through their body that you can feel it in your hands, the hands that you are touching their body with. The energy feels warm, or maybe it feels a little tingly. It is a positive, healing energy. An energy that heals, that cancels out the radiation energy that is making Willy and Trey so sick.
“Now, in our mind’s eye I want you to imagine Willy and Trey healthy. Just picture them being sassy, and healthy and full of life. Can you remember when Trey went to the Homecoming Dance two weeks ago? Can you remember how sharp he looked?
“Can you remember all the women Trey hit on, leaning out the window of our van, like he did last Saturday as we drove to the bowling alley?”
“Yeah, the fool,” murmured Kevin A under his breath.
Kevin P poked him in the ribs. “Shut up fool; shut your stupid mouth,” whispered Kevin P, sotto voce.
Karen caught my eye as I looked at the two Kevins. Her glance said, these guys never quit, do they?
“Imagine Willy. Remember the time the cops brought him back last summer after he ran from us and the State Police got him on I-95 in Georgia? Remember how sassy he was. Remember the time he passed his Food Handler’s Permit. See in your mind’s eye how proud he was, so proud that he told everyone about it for days. See him alive and full of life. See him on a Gator wearing a rad suit, and at the high school helping others. See him wearing his yellow scarf and red beret, so full of pride. See these Men of Honor as they once were, full of life.
“Now, feel that memory, the energy of that memory, the energy of that vitality flowing from your mind into your hands. And then from your hands into their bodies. Remember for them. Energize them. For the radiation is taking their body’s memory of vitality away from them. We will remember for them. Our memory and our thoughts will counter the sickness. The power of our thoughts will heal Trey and Willy.” I paused and let those thoughts sink in.
“Now, we’re going to do one last thing. Like last night, I want you to say some healing chants after me. Here we go.”
“I send,” I started. No one responded.
“Say, everyone, after me, ‘I send,’ okay? Here we go.”
“I send.” They got it.
“And they are cured,”
“And they are cured.”
“So say I,”
“So say I.”
“With all that is divine within me,”
“With all that is divine within me.”
“They are healed,”
“They are healed.”
“We are finished.”
“We are finished,” and with that I removed my hands from Willy’s forehead. Everyone else opened their eyes, relaxed, and pulled their hands off the healed. As the previous night, both Willy and Trey looked relaxed and breathed noticeably easier.
That was it for me. I went straight to bed.