Photo of Marc Aaron Butler singing with Iveria (Matthew Abbatte, H. Mark Little, John Burt, Jean Renard Ward, David Gilman, Sam Kendall, Glen Allin) taken by Michael Horan on 7/8/12 at The Regent Theater
Close to the beginning of The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, Jill, who was raised without any conception of God, is placed in a position where she must trust. She is blown off a great cliff, from the eternal lands towards Narnia, and the moment is discussed as follows:
“To her astonishment she saw the cliff already more than a hundred yards behind her, and the Lion himself a spec of bright gold on the edge of it. She had been setting her teeth and clenching her fists for a terrible blast of lion’s breath; but the breath had really been so gentle that she had not even noticed the moment at which she left the earth. And now, there was nothing but air for thousands upon thousands of feet below her.
She felt frightened only for a second. For one thing, the world beneath her was so very far away that it seemed to have nothing to do with her. For another, floating on the breath of the Lion was so extremely comfortable.”
When Marc was first diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer I largely closed my trial practice by giving back court duty days, informing courts that appointed me to various positions whether to represent children or as a guardian ad litem that I was not accepting appointments until I gave notice I was once again available, and withdrew from all but a limited number of cases. I did this to prepare for Marc’s harsh chemo, and the needs he might have. Little did I know I was about to be involved in five preventable hospitalizations, and multiple life-threatening crisis and hundreds of hours at a hospital, at least in part due to failures of care coordination and symptom diagnosis and management.
I prayed before largely shutting down my law practice; this was very frightening because as a self employed person, I do not receive sick time or any benefits; there is no “paycheck” or W2 income in my world. And I have not accepted a new trial client since Marc was diagnosed on may 4, 2012. And I followed the instructions in the Doctrine and Covenants which is one of the scriptures in my adopted faith; I studied it out, as a result we arranged a 401k disbursment, and prayed, and was answered that I need not worry, all would be well and all would be taken care of if I heeded the promptings I would receive, each in good time.
Those promptings led me to demand certain acts of Marc’s medical team, that I believe were critical, and to heed the suggestion of a friend that we give Marc’s friends and mine the opportunity to support us by having a benefit. Marc then requested that the benefit be a concert, and involve all the areas of both our lives, from Latter Day Saints to Occupiers, both Democrats and Republicans. So that is what we did, and were surrounded and nourished by love, cupcakes and the support I needed to be able to be there for Marc. The concert on July 8, 2012 was also the breath of the Lion, and the love and energy at The Regent Theater that night had to be experienced to be fully understood. For Marc and I, this was a “time” for a lifetime, and nourishing on many planes.
Charley Blandy, one of the BMG “guys” was wonderful enough to agree to sing, and to humor me by singing The Boatman’s Song which I first heard him sing at BMG’s very successful benefit concert for the candidate who became President Obama.
Charley Blandy at The Regent Theater July 8, 2012 photo by Deborah Sirotkin Butler
Marc also spoke about his hopes for everyone, that everyone from the different circles in his life would speak with one another, and leave their silos to accept one another’s good intentions and work together to heal this country and this planet.
Marc Aaron Butler sharing his hope for the future, that we would all, no matter our beliefs or backgrounds, be able to leave our silos and work together for a better future for all. Photo by Deborah Sirotkin Butler
It was beautiful to hear Iveria and the Arlington Ward Choir sing Blazhen Muzh together. The ancient Russian Hymn was glowing sound, filing the acoustic space of The Regent Theater. There was a mix of Occupiers, Democrats, Latter Day Saints (Mormons) Republicans, people my daughter went to kindergarden with, folks who raise chickens, and the most phenomenal assortment of cupcakes including gluten and wheat free I ever saw. I am told there were more than 25 bakers!
I admit I felt like Jill in The Silver Chair. Like her, I was not raised in a religious home; my father being a militant athiest who truly believed and at 100 years of age, still believes that religion is for the weak. I have always worked, always carried my own weight, have not had a ”wage” paid by others since 1981, and to let go of so much of what I had built client by client really was scary. Letting go of the trial practice, though telling myself “its temporary”, even with keeping my hand in on appellate work, was like letting myself be blown off a cliff.
So, just so you all know, I have been floating on the breath of the great Lion, who C.S. Lewis called Aslan, but who is one of the many ways the Savior appears to children like me. Thank you all for your prayers, your love, and your support. The breath of the Lion is made up of the breaths of his children. And just for today, Marc had a good day, we have moved his care to Dana Farber, and will work, hope, and pray for many more good days, even with more chemo in the future. And, like Marc, I choose to believe that no matter our backgrounds or the beliefs we were taught growing up, we are members of one human family and only together can we leave a better planet for our children and their children, and the creatures who depend on the human race.