I sit and think and ponder and wonder....on the day before my latest birthday; my mind is blessedly alive with thoughts toward the future, but my heart is heavy for friends in distress. I just finished reading Jim's latest post and I just ache over what he and his wife Carolyn have endured these past several weeks. I encourage you to read his latest post here. Jim, as he points out, is not into self-pity, but his ordeal concerning Carolyn's health is more than anyone should have to bear. Sadly and frustratingly, though, he is indeed asked to bear even more than he should. Jim has had to weather some seriously unfortunate negativity of late and I realize once again how grateful I am that he and his family are surrounded by that most outstanding group of friends: The Posse. Jim's post also reminds me of the importance of measuring one's words carefully when speaking with a loved one...you truly never know when they may be your last.
I was re-reading an older post last night. This was titled A Surreal Day In The Life and it chronicled a particularly oddball day that ended with a first Friday Posse night at a Moroccan restaurant and a drag show. That night was great fun, a tad bizarre and we were all celebrating away; blissfully unaware of what was just ahead for all of us. After writing about the strangeness of the evening a day later, Carolyn was one of those later commenting on the post. Re-reading her comment just freezes my blood as it ends with "and its only June. Just imagine what the rest of the year can bring". Twelve days and six posts later, we would instead learn the unimaginable.
Jim speaks in an eloquence that is beyond my own imagination when he writes of his life with Carolyn and the heartbreak of her current condition. He reminds us of that vitally important lesson of measuring our words. When my sister Mona died, our relationship had been frosty and fractious for many years, mostly borne of my own fierce protectiveness of my parents. We had reconnected during the last year of her life and we talked frequently on the phone and through email. We had sadly exchanged many an angry word over the years prior to her passing but blessedly, our last conversation was heartfelt, with tinges of that rarely seen but treasured humor of Mona's and it ended with an "I love you" from each of us. I wrote of the last moments with my father in this blog and that conversation was also loving and humorous, just as it should have been. Not long before that,though, when he and Mom were in my care, tough and sometimes even heinous words were tossed my way on a daily basis. I'm so grateful that at the end, once again, "I love you" were the last words we spoke to each other. I completely stand by Jim in this and echo his statement.....the next conversation you have with a loved one may be your last. Remember to just breathe before you speak.
Jim also writes of taking care when you write because once its out there, it can't be taken back. Looking back over the blog on my anniversary date, there are indeed moments that make me wince but one perk of blogging is that I can go back and delete if needed. I haven't, though....I find even the embarrassing moments help form the progression of the blog, in some odd way. The point of The Confounded Cook was to capture my life, foibles and all. Watching this chapter of Jim and Carolyn's life unfold, I am driven even more to write this blog. What may read as astoundingly trivial to a casual reader could be a treasured moment for Keith and I or another loved one and I want to have a record of our life should anything happen to either of us. This particular record just happens to include recipes and details our passion for food as well.
So, as I look towards the birthday, I'm going to break the rules a bit. When one gets their birthday cake, they blow out the candles and make a wish. Said wish is supposed to be unspoken; lest it not come true. I'm going to take my chances and make my wish known....
...I wish for some sorely needed positivity. If you visit Carolyn in person or simply the CaringBridge journal, please offer positive thoughts, comments, prayer and/or energy to Jim and Carolyn both. Folks in my hometown: send some positive energy to our classmate Jane who needs some uplift. If I'm sounding preachy, bear with me, but its a tough reality out there these days and we need to look out for our fellow man.
Angry words are all the rage (pun intended) in the media these days, but I would like to offer some words that I won't regret...
Keith and I are honored to be considered part of the amazing Posse. They had our attention early as a fun and adventurous group to hang with, but their dedication to and affection for Carolyn has been a wonder to behold. Thank you for including us.
I am grateful for Carolyn's continued improvement. Is it happening as fast as we all would like? No. Is she making progress, though? Hell, yes. That's enough to warrant continued therapy and positive encouragement. Girlfriend's a fighter; she's got the Posse on her side to boot and we're gonna love her through this, dammit.
I am grateful for Keith's family and for my own. I'm thankful for my sister Shirley keeping watch over my Mom and for Dad watching over all of us. I'm lucky to have hometown friends who mean more to me than ever and for treasured friends here in KC. One group of my favorite friends will be getting together this weekend to help another cherished friend facing a health crisis of her own and help her through it; we will.
I am, as always, most grateful for the K-Man himself. My life with him has been the best gift of all.
As I embark on another birthday; I've got nothin' but love and gratitude in my heart, even if that ticker's feelin' a bit heavy. One final thought and a repeated one:
Breathe. That breath could work wonders. It could stop you from speaking in anger, or worse, ending a conversation with a loved one in anger. It could calm your nerves. It could help you collect your thoughts, as mine are usually scattered in the wind...hence this rambling post.
That breath is also precious. I quit smoking (again) and every day without those damn cigarettes, I relearn how sweet that breath is. My most vivid lesson in remembering how precious that breath is has been watching Carolyn be taken off a ventilator to breathe on her own.