Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hope is a waking dream


Against all odds and the Sunset Garden Book, those plumeria are thriving in Austin

For the last few nights I've sat on my porch in the cool, quiet, early fall evening, and looked at the moon and thought about life.  Or more specifically, death.  The terrible specter of death has crept into my life. My beloved friend J is gravely ill.  Maybe.  Of course not.  I don't know.

Just two months ago, we all spent a wonderful weekend laughing and cooking and eating and feeling immortal, or as immortal as middle-aged people have any right to feel.  If you had asked us to vote on who seemed the healthiest, ate the best, exercised the most, and led the godliest life, J would probably win.  He was coughing a little, perhaps, but this has been a harsh year for allergies, and the smoke has been constant.

We didn't know.  

He is so clever, so funny, and so dear.

J and his sweet wife went home to Texas and he drove his daughter back to college.  Then he  went on a cross-country road trip, relocating his Navy son from San Diego to Maine.  But when he got back, he suddenly started to feel awful.  So he went to the doctor for a check-up.

He got the news nobody wants.  He has a very rare, aggressive lung cancer.  It has already spread to his liver and bones, although not his brain.  His pain is unbearable.  Life is suddenly very different, precious, and frightening.

J and B--two halves of a perfect whole

In  truth, this is not my story to tell.  I feel greedy claiming pain and fear because his family has cornered the market on pain and fear.  I have no right to expect constant updates or medical information.  Would I feel better if I had that?   Does carrying some of the anxiety help to bear it, or just duplicate it? Am I exploiting them by posting about it?

I feel compelled to be brave and optimistic, but it's hard.  I suppose the correct path is to presume that medical science will throw everything they have at this and J will rally.  That he'll recover.  That this will be a dark chapter in their fine, long marriage, but he will see his grandchildren, yet unborn, grow up.  I made a little bracelet with his initial, which we share, to wear every day until he is well again, because I can't keep my fingers crossed that long.  There is literally nothing else for me to do.

My tears won't help at all.  If they did, he'd be better already.

Everyone he knows wants him to get well, not just me.  J is my old friend--not my husband, my dad, or my son.  I don't presume to want it more than they do because that's impossible.

But make no mistake:  I want it so much.  So much.

 J was a snappy dresser even  in 1975, and he made sure I had a proper white orchid for our senior prom.
He wore his cool Johnny Carson suit, and I wore a black tee and a long black silk skirt, which I made.
He was not responsible for my matching black eye.


  1. How very unfair. But I don't think you are taking anything away from his family by grieving yourself. Your caring can only help.

  2. Nicely done, Jenny. J is blessed with a close and loving family -- wife/soulmate, children, parents, sisters. But he also has what I would call a chosen family -- the JCC. Giving voice to your love for J and your fear for him exploits nothing. I love your inclusion of the plumeria; they survive in Austin against the odds, and I must believe that J will, too.

  3. You're allowed your sadness, even though you aren't family. And remember, burdens shared are burdens lessened.

    Pleased to meet you, by the way! Looks like we hang out at all the same places...

  4. I don't know you, i don't know J, i don't know his family, or your friends.....but i know that love is something that expands when shared, even when doing so hurts. you're hurting and need love and support. your friend and his family needs love and support. you've put out the call. we are answering. sending love....

  5. How awful to watch your friend suffer like this. And like SC said, you're entitled to feeling just as sad about it.