Chapter 35 Summary

2001

Next, Rebecca and Deborah drove Clover, Virginia to visit Henrietta’s sister, Gladys. When they arrived, Gladys sat, wearing nothing but a thin nightgown, in a wheelchair next to a hot wood stove. Her dying husband was in the next room, moaning in his bed. Deborah, clearly agitated and covered in hives, made a halting speech to Gladys about everything she had learned.

Soon Gary, Glady’s son and Deborah’s cousin, came into the house. He saw the hives on Deborah’s face and watched her pacing around the room. He looked to Rebecca, who explained that the information about Elsie had upset Deborah badly. Gary was close to Deborah, and he understood her feelings better than most of the family, so he seemed sympathetic.

Gary’s nickname was Gary The Disciple. He had spent his youth drinking and chasing women, but this led to heart problems. When he was about thirty, ill health forced him to up his hard living, so he devoted his life to God instead. He encouraged Deborah to relax herself and trust in the Lord, but Deborah could not. She kept pacing back and forth, repeatedly reciting everything she knew or had heard regarding Elsie's hospitalization and Henrietta’s cells.

When reasoning did not seem to help Deborah, Gary conducted a spontaneous spiritual healing ritual in Glady’s living room. First he looked “vacant,” and then “his upper body seized like he’d been electrocuted.” He approached Deborah, shaking and shouting, and began to pray for the Lord to heal her and take away her pain regarding Henrietta:

We need your help liftin the BURDEN of them cells from this woman! Lift this burden, Lord, and take it away, we don’t NEED it!

Deborah’s body began shaking all over, and she prayed with Gary, repeating his words and thanking God for helping her. Then Gary demanded that God take Deborah’s burdens away and give them to Rebecca to carry.

As all this was happening, Rebecca sat as silently as possible, watching in amazement and scribbling notes. She reflected afterward:

In any other circumstance I might have thought the whole thing was crazy. But what was happening between Gary and Deborah at that moment was the furthest thing from crazy I’d seen all day. As I watched, all I could think was, Oh, my god…I did this to her.

After all this was over, Deborah said she felt better. Outside, a light rain turned to a storm. Both Deborah and Gary took this as a sign from God. Deborah led the way outside, saying, “You ready for some soul cleansing?