Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grey, Yellow, and Red

Hello Everyone:

I wrote this little story below because I have been noticing how different people react to the news of a family member, or a friend, receiving the diagnosis of a serious illness that is life threatening. Many people become active in supporting you, some are uncomfortable and don't feel they can say the right things, others feel they may be bothering you when you are sick. Others have a hard time believing they should have hope for a good outcome because the diagnosis is so dire. I can tell you, as someone who has received a scary diagnosis that anything you can do in the way of staying in touch means the world to an ill person. A little card that just says "hi, I'm thinking of you." A little silly gift. A book of prayers. A text message saying "how's your day?"

My family and friends and I have received this type of bad news. So here is my story. It's from the heart.

We are all sitting in the living room, my family and friends, and most everyone is hurting from the news of my illness. As it settles in, everyone tries to make room for it in their lives. But everyone is having a hard time. The news involves the very real possibility of death and many people in the room are not sure they're up to dealing with this.

Let's say Death is the "elephant" in the room. We'll give him a name. His name is Grey. Of course we don't like Grey being here, but this is what happens in these types of situations. Let's say Life is the "sun" in the room. His name is Yellow. The guests at this party include my family and friends and Life and Death.

Grey is a big lazy elephant and Yellow is a big bright fiery sphere of activity. Around the room we all sit, myself included. Grey and Yellow are in the center and they are here for me. The reason Grey is here is because something has gone wrong with my body and Grey feels comfortable to show up at this party. Yellow has always been here. Yellow is an old friend. I like Yellow very much.

Grey has always been lurking around, trying to get a good seat at the party. He first showed up at my birth when he almost took my mother's life. Then four years later he showed up again when I was hit by a car. He felt welcomed then because I was in pretty bad shape. Doctors said I wouldn't make it. After that party, Grey left. He did not get a party favor to take away with him. In approximately my 32nd year, Grey showed up again. He did not want all of me. He was just looking for my reproductive capabilities. After 6 years of testing and surgeries, Death again left empty handed. In my 42nd year Grey showed up again. This time, with all due respect, we really battled. Yellow, as all good friends do, never left my side. I negotiated the loss of a breast and a year of my life under an unpleasant treatment regimen. I got my life and Grey left the party once again empty handed. Now, in my 53rd year, Grey has shown up again and this time he feels himself to be very welcome. He's got a lot of the medical community and some of my friends and family believing he has a very legitimate invitation. But, Life is still in the room. Life has always been in the room - never left once. And we like each other very much. Yellow is my best friend.

So, Grey is here again. What do I do? I'm tired of him showing up. The problem is, he can tell I'm tired. He's been here for a few months and he watched me hear doctors tell me their lousy prognoses and he watched my reaction to them. Grey's confidence grew. Let me tell you something about Grey; Grey is very respectful. He doesn't force anything. He doesn't get arrogant. He waits, very respectfully. He doesn't have to do anything. He knows I will do all the work either way. But he does hope I'll miss a beat here or there. He'd like to leave with a party favor. He and Yellow are polite, but keep their distance from each other.

Yellow is quite beautiful. Very hard to resist. Yellow usually stays for about 80 years - give or take. I'd like my 80 years. Everyone in the room would like their 80 years.

So, what do I do? I have to find a way to tip the scales in my favor. So, what have I got going for me? I've got great friends and family. I'm smart. I ask a lot of good questions. I can research like nobody's business. I'm not afraid to go out on a limb. Ok, so these things are good, but I need a powerhouse of something to tip the scales. - I know! I know who is missing from the party. He must have gotten delayed. Or maybe he's driving around the block trying to find the house. Maybe he never got his invite. His name is Red and when he shows up everything changes. His energy is so great that everyone gets happy when he comes into the party. They can't help it. He is Belief. He probably saw everyone's reactions to Grey showing up. He probably saw how scared everyone got. He probably could tell everyone was thinking Grey had a pretty solid invitation. Belief probably didn't feel welcome.

Well, as the song goes "It's my party..." So, let's make Grey feel a little uncomfortable. I cross the room and open the front door. I see Red driving around. He wants to come in. I wave to him and he smiles broadly. "Come on in" I say. He parks the car and comes bounding up the walk. Boy, does he look good. My old friend Belief. He comes through the door ... and everything changes.

God Bless you all. Please keep your belief strong for me.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home For The Weekend

I escaped the Arizona heat last weekend and went home to California for three days. I stayed with my girlfriend Lauren who had a beautiful room fixed up for me at her house. I was very comfortable and had a great view of her lovely backyard garden. Thank you Lauren.

As many of you know, my brother Geoffrey and his wife Bernadette own a dance studio in Covina, CA, called DanceMaker. Every year in July the dancers put on a fabulous show. I caught the last show on Sunday, and as Geoffrey and Bernadette had arranged very comfortable box seats for me, I had lots of room to set up my camera and monopod. I just sat there and clicked away while enjoying the show. I've posted some of the pictures here for you to see.

DanceMaker came on strong and entertained from beginning to end. This years show, as always, was top shelf! They do many skits, lively tap and jazz numbers, beautiful ballets, and of course singing, singing, singing.

Anybody with dancing and entertaining aspirations, come on down and sign up on August 25, 26, & 27. In addition to dance, they have singing and acting classes. They're a real nice bunch and it's the best studio around! Ask them to tell you about the students they've had go on to work in the entertainment industry and on Broadway in NY. DanceMaker has been doing this for over 20 years.

After the show there is always a party to celebrate the success of the dancers. I went for a short while, but had to leave to go home to rest. Just don't have much energy these days, but as I left I could tell everyone was having a good time.

I was sorry to have to leave Monday night. It was a real boost to see my family, cousins, nephews - the whole clan. I also stopped in briefly at Home Depot, but unfortunately I was not feeling well and so couldn't stay see all the people I would have liked to have seen.