I have so many pictures of our kids, but this is the only one I have of us together…Remember when I stopped by to visit you on my way back from the doctor’s office, after I had gotten my cancer diagnosis? I knew you’d just had surgery, but we didn’t realize until then that we both had cancer. It was so terrible to discover that we were both going through the same thing, but it was also a comfort to have a friend who truly understood.
Remember how we texted back and forth comparing appointment schedules, biopsies, and scans, and how we tried to fit in visits in between? Remember the time we spent together as you were undergoing chemo treatments? Sometimes we chatted, sometimes I just sat next to you while you slept. Sometimes we continued our conversations over lunch after your infusion was finished.
Remember when you had your son drive you to my house to visit me after my surgery? You were still weak from undergoing treatment, but you wanted to bring food to me. Remember how you asked, “Are you ok with pig feet?” Yang! Could you tell I was having a bit of a panic attack trying to figure out how to politely say that I didn’t think I’d be able to eat pig feet?! (I’m so sorry)! Remember how when I was worrying about what was going to happen to me you texted me: “I am together with you“? Yang, even though we can’t see each other right now, I am together with you too. Thank you for being such a good friend to me. When we see each other again, let’s take another picture together, OK?
Just a quick note today…Remember the Lunar New Year party you had at your house a couple years ago? It was both exhilarating and terrifying! I wrote about it here…
If I had a lantern to light this evening, my wish would be for good health: for you, for my own family, and for everyone around the world who is suffering right now.
Thank you for being a light in this exhilarating and terrifying life, my dear friend. We’ll get through this dark night together.
“Though we are far, our hearts our near.”
Yesterday I had my scheduled “Be Well” visit, one of the many annoying assaults to my dignity that I must endure, like a pigeon pecking a button for a pellet, to earn a lousy (taxable) $600.
A slim, bright-eyed doctor strode into the room. He looked all of twelve years old.
“So! Let’s talk about your Be Well goals for the year!”
I was taken aback. “Oh! I actually have been thinking about those all week, but I’m still working on them. I promise I’ll have them by my next phone appointment with my Be Well Advocate though.”
“Mmmhmmm,” he said with his fingers poised over the keyboard, “But I have to put them into the system, so let’s go ahead and work on those now.”
“NOW?!” I said in a mild panic, “Well, OK. I will…ummm…try to exercise four days a week.”
“Good one!” he said with an encouraging smile, “One more.”
“I’m blanking. Do you have any suggestions for me?” I asked.
“How about…I will meditate three times a week for five minutes. That seems easy enough, right?”
“Yes, but…shouldn’t it be something that I would realistically do?”
I continued to muse out loud, “I know I should lose some weight, but I also feel like the goal should be something that would actually be achievable…”
“Drink less?” he proposed.
“I don’t drink.”
“Eat less sweets at work?”
“I don’t eat a lot of sweets.”
“Eat a greater proportion of vegetables at meals?”
“I don’t eat meat.”
“Well! You’re just perfect.”
Exasperating medical health professionals is one of my special talents.
Until this year, it used to be the case that instead of going to a doctor, the Be Well program would require you to move through stations set up around a large conference room. At one station you would get weighed and measured. At another station you would get your blood drawn. At the final station, a nurse would interpret your results and give you recommendations to improve your health.
One year, a well-meaning nurse tried to get to the bottom of my high cholesterol numbers.
“Do you eat a lot of sugar?”
“No, I really don’t.”
“Do you eat a lot of fried foods?”
He started to look at me with suspicion.
“I don’t eat meat, just fish occasionally.”
His eyes narrowed and he asked, “Fatty foods?”
“Not really, although…I do eat cheese,” I conceded.
The nurse pounced: “You MUST. EAT. LESS. CHEESE.”
Now, under pressure to come up with something, anything, I blurted out to the doctor: “OK, I have my second goal!” Forgetting all my scruples about setting a goal that was both realistic and achievable I announced: “I will eat less cheese.” I cringed as the words spilled from my lips, fully confident that no stupider-sounding goal had ever been set in the history of the universe.
Doogie Howser exacted his revenge on me.
“Hah! That’s the exact opposite of MY goal. My goal is to eat MORE cheese. I fantasize about quitting medicine and becoming a cheesemaker! But my wife says I have to pay off all my med school loans first.”
Well, I suppose we all have our crosses to bear.
Shutterfly has jumped on the “Memory” wagon and I love it…Last week they emailed me these photos from a Christmas card photo shoot ten years ago!
We’re going to see that no-longer-little-sprite-on-the-right very soon…I just bought his train ticket. He’ll be home for the holidays from his first semester of college by the end of the week!
For the blooper reel:
Arlington Princeton Philadelphia
My daughter’s soccer team was playing in a pre-season tournament in Arlington this weekend. Serendipitously, The Wolves, a Pulitzer-nominated play about a girls’ high school travel soccer team, was having its final run this weekend at the Studio Theatre in DC. My sister got tickets for the three of us and we decided to tell my daughter only that she had a surprise in store.
I picked her up early from school on Friday to make sure we would beat the traffic and make it to DC on time. As we walked to the car, she asked, “So are you going to tell me now what the surprise is, or are you going to make me wait until we get there to find out?”
“You’re just going to have to wait till we get there,” I said, “But remind me…you’ve never had an allergic reaction to any anesthetics, right?”
She merely smirked and rolled her eyes at my clumsy attempt to throw her off the scent.
It took me to Ruckersville to come up with a second gambit: “Hey! You really like organ meat, don’t you?”
“What’s organ meat?” she asked me, not even looking up as she tap tap tapped away on her phone.
“You know…like, intestines, brain, heart, liver, kidney…,” I said, forcing down the wicked laughter that was bubbling up inside me.
“I’d gladly try organ meat,” the little saucepot replied serenely, not even glancing up from her phone, “but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to eat it.”
“DAMMIT!” I cursed inwardly, frustrated by the girl’s infernal insouciance.
I brooded over the problem all the way up Route 29 until we reached Culpeper, when a devious idea began to form in my brain.
“You did remember to bring a fancy dress and your nice shoes, right?” I casually asked.
My girl whose standard uniform consists of sweatpants and a t-shirt dropped her phone and whipped her head around to look at me with a horrified expression: “Wait, WHAT?!”
Ah, sweet victory!
“OK, you really got me that time,” she said. We collapsed in a paroxysm of laughter, and I could finally relax for the rest of the trip!
Our first stop was the W Hotel and the POV rooftop lounge:
Everything was delicious, but I’m going to dream about the Buñuelo Fritters for the rest of my life. They tasted like impossibly scrumptious, warm air.
The play was amazing!
The tournament didn’t begin until the late afternoon, so we had all morning to relax…
Grandpa & Grandma tested out the new leg massage contraption their favorite son sent them…
Lunch at Rice Paper, Grandma’s favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the Eden Center in Falls Church:
My girl’s own cheering squad, including her grandparents, my sister, and my BFF, turned out in the bitter cold to root for her team…
The girls advanced to the finals with two wins under their belts.
Because of Daylight Savings, we woke up ten minutes before we had to leave for the first game of the day.
We raced out the door with my dad, who decided to play hooky from church to join us on the field. I can’t emphasize enough how exceedingly rare and hardly-to-be-believed-bordering-on-miraculous this was.
Good thing they won!