Morning my Friend,
I’ve been putting off this Slice, Eileen, because actually, today marks the end of a tough year, one in which I adjusted to your permanent absence in my life. While you were fighting the good fight against your stage 4 lung cancer, Tuvia didn’t let me romanticize the dire prognosis for stage 4 cancer patients. He was wonderful with you and Andy but as you moved into decline he kept my eyes open to the reality that soon we would talk for a last time.
I remember that conversation. I can still hear the song in your voice even though you were breaking the news of cancer’s spread throughout your body on one of your routine visits to Sloan Kettering. I wanted to see you one more time, but Andy kindly discouraged me. The family was coming, joining him as you moved into hospice mode. I’m grateful that my last memory is that last phone call.
As Tuvia and I rode up to join the rest of your mourners that Sunday, I began the trip with a ticket. I just couldn’t be bothered checking to see if a cop was lying in wait for me as I made the illegal left turn into a gas station that would get me to the Thruway faster. I was anxious, worried about getting to the funeral home on time. Maybe I could have cried my way out of the ticket but I was not willing to cry my misery to him. Instead, I behaved in that pissed off way that seals your fate for the full extent of the law. Since then I have been softer when cops come to remind me about something.
That was the beginning of a very tough number of months, all new for me. By July I was adding the loss of my mom to my bag along with a loss in appetite, a troubling blood count, a lack of energy and the disappearance of my usual sense of well being. I tried not to share my dark clouds with the rest of my world, but it was impossible for close friends and family not to worry about me. I did lose weight but I didn’t look better, just off. I was.
It helped writing to you. It helped writing about my mom. Writing was really therapeutic. And now, a year later, my appetite is back, too much actually, but soon I’ll be off Prednizone, the steroids that helped me build back up my blood count and attack the pains to my large joints in my arms and legs. I can left weights again and enjoy moving. Soon I’ll be able to take on a real diet with more exercise, if I’m smart. Anyway, as you know, that’s my craziness.
This Slice will not be our last conversation I will write to you but with last Conversation to Eileen I will have satisfied my way of actively mourning my promise of a year of conversations on this blog. It was my way of honoring you, my version of the way we Jews mourn the dead. I’m retiring my daily tag: Conversations with Eileen. Is that okay with you? I can see you smiling and shaking your head and nodding yes, of course. I hear you gently suggesting that I move on.
I will, but I will continue to miss you. I know I will never be able to replace our friendship and that’s what will happen as I age. I will continue to lose friends that I won’t be able to replace. But I promise that I will try hard to be grateful for the wonderful friends and family I have. I won’t take them for granted.
I know, I don’t have to, but I want to continue to remember you when I wake up early, when the day is fresh and crisp and look out to my Hudson and think about you and how lucky I’ve been to have you watching my back. I will pass that on…