One of my best friends suffered an aneurysm last week at a conference and was rushed to the nearest hospital. Out of the blue. She had a stroke, she’s recovering, and while she can move and converse, it will be time before we know how she will be. So far CAT scans show no brain damage, thank God.
We're all sending prayers and energy until she’s out of the woods, while I figure out when I should be by her side in Denver, and how best I can help. I hate this. If I could wave a magic wand and make it all better I would, but all I can do is what we’re all doing, send her music to listen to and call for word from her brother who’s at her bedside.
The last few times I saw her she told me how much she enjoyed her job, but how she hated the winter weather in Boulder, kept asking herself what she was doing there. Then this happens, she’s in a room of incredibly smart people who get her the attention she needs and once the problem is diagnosed, is transferred to a hospital in nearby Denver that’s doing cutting edge work in that field. What is she doing in Boulder? Evidently saving her life. Go figure.
We can take nothing for granted; yet I feel forces move life around in ways that make me feel we are where we’re meant to be at any given moment. I have to accept that loss can come as easily as gifts, and that the strength I feel in my life now is partly there so I can reach out and help friends around me who need it. As they say on airplanes, place the mask over your own face before attempting to assist others. I breathe deep, remember that we are all made of stars, that I am "part of the Earth" as are we all, and that it is all so much bigger than I am capable of conceiving that trying to figure it all out is pointless.
I know I’m where I wanted to be when I came back to New York, and where I need to be now. I know the people around me are just the most wonderful people to have there, and that we are all struggling as we make our way into the light, finding such gems in the semi-darkness until dawn...and that the light, what we see of it is so beautiful and so loving it makes me cry. It’s a wonderful time we live in, even as it is a terrible time, and once again, Dickens is proven a genius for codifying contradictions...
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way -- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Each time I worry that I don't know what I am doing, after months of agonizing over what the hell is going on, I remember that I got myself this far, so I must be doing something right. Life is short. In this crazy world, I’m lucky enough to have just the sweetest smartest people in the world around me. My friend’s stroke just reminds me to remind all of them how much they mean to me, even if it means a week of sloppy e-mails and blogs like this one.
For all life’s unpredictability, I can’t bring myself to find fear in this event, no matter what happens. She’s already defying the odds, as we knew she would, and we‘re all praying for the best as she continues to recover. I feel about all of this the same way I do about my life. Even looking back at where I’ve been, the things that I’ve had to survive to get where I am, I still know I can’t wait to see what's next. Why?
Damned if I know. Maybe because the more you survive, the more you learn how to survive. Maybe it’s that even though we get used to saying that it's always one step forward and two steps back, I am slowly realizing that maybe, just maybe, they can be dance steps. Maybe we are all moving in step to the beat without knowing it. If she hadn't been where she was, maybe she wouldn't be here now.