It is eight days into the New Year and I have done 16 loads of laundry and slept on the couch for the last five nights because Mark brought in 2009 with a cold that morphed into bronchitis. I have also made about 21 meals, and a half dozen cups of tea (for Mark). My nails are unpolished, my hair needs to be cut, and because Walter (our cockapoo) loves to sleep on the couch during the day, I am blessed with flea bites on my back and rear. So, last night I flipped the sofa cushions and today I will vacuum it with mothballs in the vacuum cleaner bag (that works, by the way), give Walter a flea bath and slap a flea collar on him, and maybe on myself just in case. David has been granted a few grad school interviews and I am proud and happy for him. Ellie joined a gym and has put herself and Larry on a new diet and exercise regimen. Ben is heading to Los Angeles on Saturday to see what might be out there for him when he graduates in May.
Last night, I did a shooter of cognac after a conversation with my father that never has a great soporific effect before bedtime. My parents are aged, ailing, and not coming to the end of their lives with ease. They are not coming to the kind of end that many patients of my husband’s come to when they live each day well until the day they pass in their sleep, or in a hospital bed with family gathered around them and then peacefully slip away.
But such is life.
So, these days, life is “ knock wood, spit through my fingers, count my lucky stars, thank a greater power” good.
I have come to the point in life where Perspective with a capital P and constant awareness is the driving force. An email came today from my friend Beth whose youngest daughter Wendy would have been 31 on January 12th. Beth reminded me that on Wendy’s birthday, she’ll be making four different kinds of soup and letting go balloons to honor Wendy as she does every year. In October 2000, Wendy was sitting in her car, talking to her girlfriends when a robbery (the girls handed over their wallets) turned into murder and a handgun took Wendy’s life at the age of 22. This defines senseless. This defines blasphemy. This defines injustice, grief, sorrow…on levels that are immeasurable. Yes, there was a trial and a conviction, and yet it only matters in terms of saving another life. It doesn’t bring back Wendy who is buried in a small cemetery about a five-minute walk from Beth’s home in Dallas where Beth visits every day and weeps as much as she did when Wendy was taken from her. Beth will never heal.
In her email, Beth said that Wendy had met John Travolta and Kelly Preston when she was out in L.A., and that because Wendy was Wendy, the Travolta’s remembered her. Wendy: the quintessential artist and free spirit who touched so many hearts including the heart of my mother who, although she asked about Wendy’s piercings said, “She’s just the sweetest thing.”
When Wendy was killed, John Travolta wrote a letter to Beth and family. And now Beth is sitting down to write to the Travolta’s for Jett. “I remember that he spoke about [the fact] that he could not believe ever going through the loss of one of his kids,” Beth’s email said. “Now I will write him a letter and I feel so very, very sad. Now I know he knows even more what it feels like. And that pains me.”
So, I listen to the news…the economic crisis, the wars in the Middle East and Iraq, global warming, famine, disease and I think that none of this is really new. It’s today news, but it’s not new. This country (the world!) has weathered setbacks and wars since pre-ancient times. As my friend Ellen asks, “Can we all really relate to a trillion dollar deficit? No. Not really. But can we relate to the loss of Jett?”
Yes. And Wendy. And then everything else just pales in comparison.
It sounds so crazy, but I have never been angry at my children. Unconditional love. Sure, they’ve annoyed me…but I have never been truly angry. And there is not a time when I either don™t think, and most of the time say, â€œI love youâ€ before I say good night or good bye. I started saying I love you with even more intensity since my own mother â€œleftâ€ me. I think I need to tell my husband more often as well.
Bethâ€™s email this morning just got me.