6 Weeks

We were told by his adult children that he was supposed to die from an inoperable, aggressive brain tumor within six weeks, that was at least three months ago. I thought, for sure, he would die when he was told his wife had passed away but, again, he was so relieved, so grateful she was out of her pain that he actually felt and looked a bit better. Nobody could change or help his diagnosis, he had an inoperable brain tumor but his spirit was so relieved that the love of his life was free of pain and free of suffering, he felt just a little better. They knew his wife was going to die in one or two days and they were correct. You could see relief sketched on his face yet he was not allowed to go to her funeral, he was in hospice care.

Many years ago, when my father laid, by himself, in a hospital room, in another state I called at the exact time when a freshly minted unsettled female voice said:”something has just happened and that the doctors are working on him now.” I didn’t understand, I had no idea what she was talking about but I remember calling my mother. I never thought about it like this but I guess I was there at his death as well. We were together and I still left him that sacred message, so did my mom. “It was okay to go, it was okay, we would take care of each other…”

The cardiologist called me and I asked him if I should come? His voice was gentle, I remember that, and he said “Sweetie, you won’t make it in time, don’t come.” ” Do you promise?” I asked through wracking sobs? “Yes”, he promised. Moments later, my father was dead. I didn’t know until a few days ago my mom had made the same call and was told the same thing. She was ready to drive there alone, in the dark, even though she was terrified to drive.

He had crashed in the hospital while under observation with a fatal heart attack. He had suffered heart attacks before. I still see that digital clock in my mind, the one my dad had given me so many years ago, well, “sold” to me even after all these years. My own children were across the hall, mere babies. I see their sweet, innocent faces, me in my bed, a moment, frozen in time. It was 10:20 pm.

I thought I would never be able to feel happiness again but I did though it was different. I was different as well. Before and After Different. That’s how I now measured my life, in a lot of things.

There are always new phases in our lives, new beginnings, new endings, new chapters, the closures, doors slammed and opened. Right now we are in the middle of a chapter and can’t seem to go forward or back, we are stuck, like dead birds smashed against a windowpane.

Eventually, we will move on. It may take some more time but life does not have to be stagnant forever although sometimes it feels that way. Turn that attitude around and enjoy what you have instead of what you don’t know. Nestle in comfort for the time being. Luxuriate in proximity, memories, familiarity and family.

Change will come, whether you are ready for it or not, it will sneak in like a softly padded black cat stealthily coming in the darkened bedroom, with only green cat eyes following every step you take.

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Just One Flight Of Stairs (Mary and Rhoda)

Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper (Photo credit: AlephNull)

I’ve been upset since I heard the horrific news about Valerie Harper’s incurable brain tumor. Every time I think about “Rhoda” my eyes fill with tears. I couldn’t sleep for a week and I was upset and anxious. How could Rhoda be dying? I was in shock as I’m sure millions of other fans were too.

Rhoda, as we knew her, was Mary’s best friend in the

English: Publicity photo of Mary Tyler Moore a...

English: Publicity photo of Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and they lived in the same building. I had a best friend like that for a little while when I lived in Boston. Similarly, I lived in my upstairs studio and she lived in the downstairs studio. We didn’t have large initials of the letters of our first names hanging on our walls but I was always tempted to buy them. We always compared ourselves to Mary and Rhoda; they were icons in our lives; they were icons of an entire generation.

My old friend and I worked, lived independently, made money and at night, she and I would go out for dinner. On Saturday nights we would wait for the papers to come out, often eating ice cream sundaes, chocolate ice cream for her, vanilla ice cream for me, with whipped cream and loads of gooey hot fudge sauce dripping over the bowl with a red maraschino cherry on top. I’m not sure of this, but I think she gave me hers. We spent a lot of time together for years and during that time, we trusted each other with our lives. Our friendship ended, but I still remember those days, with fondness.

Valerie was told by doctors she has about three months to live. Three months to live is a blink of an eye. Rhoda/Valerie, when your time comes, I hope your loved ones are by your side and the things you love most, or fresh fruit juice so your lips won’t get dry. I pray you are pain-free. (Make sure you are pain-free, make them promise. In writing!)

I’m so happy that at least you know how happy you made all of your fans. We love you, we always will. We laughed because of you. Thank you, Valerie, for all the love and goodness and laughter you brought into the world for so many people. I grew up with you, it will be very hard to say good-bye. It already is. I will try to relish every second while I can, enjoy every day with the utmost of optimism, love like I have never loved before and laugh as much as I possibly can. I hope other people will do it with me, many others. Let’s do it, in honor, of Valerie.  I think she would like that.