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The birth of a new Baby...


boy is certainly a cause for a time of joy.  Both healthy and happy, Bazil Riley was born on the 21st day of November 1963.  But the joy was short lived. The joy of this baby’s birth was quickly eclipsed by a tragedy with international implications. Just hours after Bazil’s birth President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.  The nation mourned the loss of their President and the Riley’s family would soon mourn an illness: the baby was sick.

Soon after he took his first breath in life he ended up in the ICU for six weeks.  It was on a snowy Christmas Eve that the car broke down on the way to the hospital.  His father flagged down a motorist on that cold snowy day.  The driver of a bread truck was kind enough to give them a ride to the hospital.

And so it is the case with the life of Bazil Riley, times of joy have always been eclipsed by overwhelming or catastrophic moments of pain and sadness.  His otherwise normal, happy childhood was eclipsed by a molestation which he was forced to keep to himself until he was an adult.  He served honorably in both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army where he received specialized training that resulted in special duty assignments.  Although he was not physically injured in combat, the reality of blood-stained hands lead to him being diagnosed with PTSD.

His formal education of college and graduate school were tempered by life’s lessons of perseverance and endurance.  His passion and zest for life were initially realized in his works of metal sculpture.  He thought that it would be through this artwork that he might be able to reconcile the past with the present in making beautiful art forms.  Then he was stricken with a chronic debilitating disease.  He would sculpt no more.

He was bitten by a raccoon that was initially thought to be rabid.  The post rabies treatment was administered. He endured the full course of the post rabies treatment.  But instead of attacking the rabies, the vaccine attacked his immune system.  The raccoon was not rabid.  A mistake had been made in communicating the results from the lab to the field office.

He was life flighted from Marion, South Carolina to Duke University Medical Center.  There, the many doctors searched for a proper diagnosis so a treatment paradigm could be implemented.  Initially the doctors thought that Bazil had Dumb Rabies or Meningitis, eventually it was determined , after a battery of tests, that he had CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy). Which according to the fact sheet in the rabies vaccine, one in one million people get this disease for which there is no cure. Bazil will eventually end up comletely bedridden and on oxygen and a feeding tube before its all over.  But until then, he's full speed ahead with Bad Dog Poetry and other writing projects that he has in the works.  Bazil doesn't have an ounce of quit in him- it's simply not in his nature to roll over and give up, no matter how severe the pain or how debilitating the disease.

Two months after the diagnosis, Bazil was involved in an accident that burned his face and both hands and shattered his right leg, which required it to be completely rebuilt.  The chaos continues.  The treatment paradigm for the disease has slowly eroded his life’s savings.  He maxed out his health insurance and soon after, he and his wife lost their house and both vehicles.  Needless to say, life has been a challenge.  He’s fond of saying, that their nest egg was plucked from the nest, cracked open and then eaten; and all because of a simple mistake of miss-communication.

But he will gladly tell you that he would have it no other way.  He has learned that pain and suffering do little to build one’s character, rather, it is a time that you reveal the character that you either do or do not have – he has character.  It is through this blessing that he has realized his true calling.  As he prayed, “God forgive me”, he also prayed, “God use me”.  His life so far, as arduous as it may have seemed, was the desert that has led to his promised land: he is now the writer of Christian fiction.  He not only writes stories that are plausible, he writes about what he knows – God is good.  He develops both characters and storyline that allow the reader to locate a practical application of scripture, as a means to reconcile their own pain and sorrow, and their promise of realized forgiveness.

Bazil served honorably as an officer in the U.S. Army and is a graduate of The Divinity School, Duke University.  His doctoral studies are in the field of sociology.  He has worked as a metal sculptor, newspaper columnist, in the funeral industry and as a hospital chaplain.  His life experiences combined with his own struggle with a debilitating chronic disease have allowed him to fully understand the emotions and circumstances related to suffering and loss.  Drawing from these experiences, Bazil develops characters, ensuing dialogue and storyline that can be painfully real and joyfully helpful.