Perspective of a friend and pastor, Marshall
This is Marshall Brown writing, pastor and friend of Will and Angie. I flew into Phoenix this Sunday night to spend 24 hours with them. I landed at 9pm at night and it was 108 degrees. So amidst all the things you have been reading about Will and Angie, remember to put it in the context of extreme heat. But I wanted to write and talk a little about the last few days as well as give a bit of context for where they are.
First the past few days. After struggling to breathe, Will was admitted to the hospital (ER then ICU) over the weekend. His lungs had filled with fluid and had to be drained. As you might imagine, this was terrifying for both Will and Angie. As I would hear the pulmonologist explain on Monday, the doctors at the hospital expect his lungs to fill again with fluid. He has a case – I am not sure how strong — of pneumonia. The plan now is to insert tubes into Will’s side that will allow the lungs to be drained as often as necessary. The upside to this is that once the tubes are in, Angie will be able to do this on her own without assistance. The downside is that the fluid contains protein – something Will needs more of.
Like with so many things these last months, Angie has become a medical expert. Several times while I was there, I would hear her explain something to the medical professionals or “read” the machines. I even saw her adjust some of the many wires and tubes that Will is connected to. When I left Phoenix on Monday afternoon, Will had been transferred out of the ICU to a regular room. The plan was that he would get a blood transfusion yesterday afternoon and have the tubes inserted today (Tuesday). Will and Angie hope to be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday so they can return to Oasis for treatment.
For the last 5 weeks, Will and Angie have been living at a Marriott Hotel in Mesa. They are about 3 blocks from the Oasis Center. For some reason, I had in my mind that the center was bigger than it is – I guess I “knew” that it was an outpatient center – but I somehow kept envisioning an inpatient center on sprawling grounds. It is actually a large home and a small clinic that are about 3 blocks from one another and 4 blocks each from the hotel. I was able to visit the house that they call the Lifestyle House It is a beautiful old home along a wide boulevard. There is a stoop outside that is supposedly where stage coaches used to stop. Inside are several treatment rooms and a mid-sized working kitchen. There is also a classroom space there. Every weekday morning, Angie’s angelic parents and, when they were able, Will and Angie, attend classes there to learn about everything from the nature of disease and cancer to how to prepare raw vegan food.
I was not at the Center long, but I was struck by the warmth of the people there. Angie told me later how much she believes in Oasis and the people there. She feels like they really care about Will as a person. I got a chance to eat their lunch – and though raw vegan is not in my immediate future – I must say it was very good. And surprisingly filling.
I was in Phoenix for 24 hours. For much of that time, Will was asleep. I really only got to spend an hour with him. That brief time was sweet. I personally delivered an invitation to my upcoming wedding and told Will I expected to see him there. That was fun and I was glad to have good news to share with my friends. It was great to see him smile. He has one of the world’s great smiles: gentle, kind, infectious. I thanked him for loving and encouraging me through my courtship of my fiancé – we got engaged just before he left for Phoenix. I will never forget a conversation we had in a UCLA hospital room 5 months ago when he talked about his marriage and the nature of commitment. His words were a gentle, but firm prod to me. Like so often with Will, that day I had gone to be a pastor – only to find myself being pastored by Will. This trip to Phoenix was no different. Simply watching Angie and Will live gives me the courage to keep going with my life. So much faith. So much love.
Their life is not remotely easy. Will is tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of so many setbacks. Tired of not living a “normal life” (his words). And he is scared – I love his honesty. He is a man in whom there is no pretense. His songs are so real because he is so real. But he is afraid because he does not know what the future holds. And he does not know where the pain will be next. But he is not deterred. He continues to fight. They are both so brave. Like many of you, I had laughed out loud reading a recent post of Angie where Will made hand motions about fighting fiercely “like a tiger.” I asked for a replay. Awesome and fierce and hilarious. And in that humor lies a strength, Will’s strength. In the midst of circumstances that would break almost anyone – Will is able to laugh, and Angie with him. May God be merciful to these beautiful servants of His.
Thank you for sharing, Marshall…Continued prayers of mercy and healing abound…
Harrison CowanJuly 18, 2013
Thanks for the post brother. We continue to pray for the entire Gray family.
KelliJuly 16, 2013
Marshall, yes, thank you for this beautiful entry. You eloquently capture the amazingness of Angie and Will. So thankful for your friendship to them and for your visit (and many visits over the months!). Like John, I have no words to express the range of emotions, only tears.
JohnJuly 16, 2013
Marshall- thanks for writing this beautiful entry. I’m not sure what to say. Simply tears as usual. How beautiful are Will and Angie. Such a good honest word, you go to pastor and are pastored to by them. May God fill Will and Angie with the perseverance, strength, and health that we pray for them.
Colleen and Tony BonillaJuly 16, 2013
Praying, praying, ever praying. Have mercy, O Lord. Restore what the locusts have eaten. Give Will and Angie a future and a hope.