Last week I read an article that Valerie Harper, Rhoda from my all time favorite show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. She could have a seizure and die tomorrow. She could live a few months or a few years, she and her doctor don’t know. They do know that right now there is no cure for this cancer of the membrane surrounding the brain.
That news got me to thinking, what would I do? What do you do with a three-months-to-live diagnosis?
Then on Friday, I got this email from my Muffincake pal Kitty:
LadiesMy father was hit by a Baltimore City bus this AM on his way to a dentist appointment. He is in emergency surgery in the shock trauma unit of Univ of MD. He has a broken pelvis, ribs, leg and forehead. His left leg was deskinned. He should be out of surgery in a few hours then into ICU. He will be in the hospital for a few weeks.
Kitty’s dad was a perfectly fit 81-year-old man who played tennis a couple of times a week and was planning to spend a month in Italy with his wife this spring until he was hit by a bus Friday morning. Just walking to a dentist appointment. One step different, one more turn of the head, a different parking space…and life would be different today.
As it is, he has already gone through two surgeries and everyone is praying he is stable enough for another one this week. He has been given more than 15 units of blood. He has broken every bone in his face. There has been internal bleeding. He may lose his leg. He’s in a medically-induced coma which they bring him out of regularly to make sure he is not suffering any neurological damage which thanks be to God, he is not. His three kids are there in the hospital with him. Kitty’s mom, the love of his life and wife of 50+ years, is there with him.
I haven’t seen Kitty’s dad in years but back in college, I went on vacation with her family. I had Easter and Thanksgiving with them. I have seen him at different events through the years. Kitty’s dad is a gentleman. Like the kind of gentleman they don’t make anymore. He is a self-made man. He is mellow, urbane, intelligent, athletic, well-read and well-educated. He has a sharp wit which catches you when you least expect it. He is a measured man who doesn’t, or at least rarely, gets angry…instead he solves the problem. He has always been one of my favorite friend dads. Kitty is her father’s daughter. And she is one of my best friends. This is devastating. Shocking. Traumatic. Baffling. What? How can this be?
So, no one is getting out of here alive. Here are two stories of lives well-lived and now those lives are in jeopardy. What do you think?
It makes me think that you never know when the piano is going to fall out of the sky, so whatever it is you want to do, need to do…what are you waiting for?
My mother died at 68 and I learned then, life is short — don’t delay! Stop making excuses for why you can’t do something, for why something won’t work or why it might work some day. Right now today is the day, the time to tell someone, everyone, anyone that you love them. Tell a friend that they hurt your feelings (thank you Trisha). Apologize, you don’t need to wait a day or two…if you know you’re wrong, just say you’re sorry right now.
You can’t afford to get married? Don’t have a wedding, just get married if that’s what you want. You need to get divorced but continue thinking, “things will get better”. If you know in your gut what you should do, do it.
I wish I had a dog (I have a dog but let’s say someone wishes they had a dog.) Go get a dog! There are thousands of cats and dogs waiting for someone to bring them home and give them a home where they are loved and fed and cared for. Get a dogwalker, get two cats so they will have a pal. Whatever you have to offer is better than living on death row or in a shelter.
Lose weight (Maggie, I’m looking at me). Go for a walk. Move. Don’t eat that wheel of brie. You have control over whether you do these things or not.
Read War and Peace (I mean if that’s what you want to do, I can’t help it if you are a masochist). Go to the movies. Make a movie, you have a phone don’t you? Paint a picture, write a song or a poem or a blog, sculpt a sculpture.
Help someone, volunteer, point out the spinach in the stranger’s tooth. Be understanding when you could be angry. Laugh. Surprise yourself. Surprise someone else.
Be who you are, whoever that is. Don’t hide. Live honestly. Tell the truth, then you will never have to remember what you said (Mark Twain, I think).
Get a job. Quit a job. Find what you love to do and try to get paid for it.
Travel, even if it’s just diverting onto a road you have never been on.
Remind yourself that you are never too young (unless by law you are) and you are never too old.
And not least of all things, realize the beauty of the greater world, of the universe, of the heavens. Recognize that all of this is bigger than yourself.
Pray. Please pray for my friend’s Dad. All the skills and all the training of nurses and doctors; and all the drugs and machinery in hospitals are sometimes not enough. Please pray, to who or whatever you pray to, that Kitty’s Dad gets a miracle.
(Kitty’s dad pulled off his own miracle yesterday getting me to Mass at 7:30 in the morning…anything is possible…there is no need to wait).