November 27, 2009

Writing With Ease

Jo, 1979.

Himself: Is getting delightfully social. Cooked, took our foods to the clubhouse which was magically turned into a dining room, ate lots, found his tossed green salad totally eaten, home to a movie and bed a bit early.

Herself: Made a quart of whipped cream with enough sugar in the two bowls to please the Geeeee-zer. No one else had signed up for pies, so I brought four. Everybody brought pies. I ate two helpings….just to help make a dent in the pie count, of course….with equally large amounts of whipped cream on top. Read HP2 while watching the movie.

Balance: The whole day was one of friends and relaxation.


October 9;
I forgot to include the bank charges this month, and a five-dollar check arriving late throws my checking account into the minus. I’m upset. Depressed. It is still hours before the bank opens, so I cannot verify what other checks have come in. It is payday. That helps a little.

Yesterday my paranoid librarian retired. I was ill at work, and because of this I was unable to enjoy myself at the retirement party. This morning I have that deep ugly pain I usually get in the middle of the night that always leaves me huddling in fear.

Jo called me early in the dark before the birds were up.

“I cannot get to sleep,” she whispered. Then defensively, “You told me to call anytime.”
I wasn’t up, but I didn’t mind.

It was comforting to hear her voice. She now just rattles on, and I just sit and listen or prompt her with questions so she will talk some more. It is comforting to have her near. Her head aches now she says, and there are sinus aches and terrible toothaches that rob her of her sleep. We speak in momentary platitudes, but I am afraid the cancer has gotten to her brain. How I love her soul.

October 18:
My stomach is better, but I feel hungover all the time at the library. Sometimes, I am so lost.

October 19:
Bee and Benjamin got married in a lovely garden in Palos Verdes yesterday. Five cars of us came up from the south to this charming house near the ocean. They had written a simple ceremony of togetherness, and though some words were a bit muffled, and Bee blushed, everyone was very pleased for them. Champagne flowed freely. Lenora wore heels for the first time, and she did beautifully except for one moment when she was overtaken by the softness of the grass.

October 20:
I am depressed and confused. The OBGYN says I need a complete hysterectomy. He says my stomach problems are colitis. No they are allergies. I remember saying “not colitis” then my words fanned out in a useless stream like a moth fluttering in front of a lamp. Useless.

October 23:
Lessa wrote. I got a little note that said nothing, but it was good to see words from her. Hold them in my hands.

Jo calls and tells me they say she won’t make it to Christmas.

“I never did like Christmas anyway,” she said slowly.

With tears running down my cheeks, we talk. She is having small seizures now. Sometimes the printed word on the page turns to gibberish. Sometimes her ears go numb. Her hands shake and she can no longer drive. She sleeps more and more.
I am here now, down on the beach writing you dear Jo. I love you. You have taught me how to openly love a friend. You taught me that there is something in myself of worth no matter how small. I wish I could help you now. I even hesitate to call in case I wake you.

October 26:
I took all my journals and drawings to Miles’ gallery today, and there was almost instant animosity between his new gallery director and me. Eventually it was decided that they would frame everything in exchange for art. I signed a contract, and a date for the show has been set. Why don’t I feel happier?

November 4;
Our kitty, Pico, has been ill. He eats less and less every day instead preferring to just perch at the end of Lenora’s bed. Now Pico waits for the vet to come into his office and for me to take him there to end his life. I think he just pined away for Lessa. He waited for her and she never came back. It is so very sad.

November 9:
Jo called. She told me that Paul and Susan came out from Arizona to visit her. Though most visits tire her, she said she enjoyed this one. When she is awake, she is now spending her time writing little notes and attaching them to small personal things as gifts for her friends…a shirt for this person, a ring for that one. Often she changes her mind. She goes moment to moment. A week ago she was still trying to keep up her journals. Now she says there is nothing worthwhile in them but the poetry. I mention “publish” and she laughs.

“The hardest thing to do is to take a bath,” she says.

“Just take yourself in with a book,” I say without thinking.

She cannot see to read any longer. She is dying just as I am getting well. Oh, I wish I could remember every word she says and write them down in “ordered lines.” We talked about how we are both treating the future in the same way.

November 22:
Such a struggle to get the surgery. Now it is done. Much stronger today. I walked until I was weak. Yesterday I gained seven pounds. I lost four today. All the tubes out…that is always a triumph. Still having trouble focusing today, but I remember Jo calling the hospital. I grabbed the phone away from the nurse and had just a few clear words with her. She sounded strong. Now I am back to walking the halls of the hospital. Walk to get better. Walk to dispel the gas.

November 26
Thanksgiving Day. Is there some way to be thankful for all the sad and miserable things that have happened this year? Should one be happy only about the things that bring joy? I used to make long lists in my journals instead of just recording what I had done. Though my emotions structure my days now, I do not write them down.

November 29:
It has been a week and a day since the operation, and I continue to feel excellent. All the symptoms that have been my constant companions this last year continue to stay in abstintia.

December 2:
Drinking wine again.

I read until I was feeling expanded then I wrote bad poetry and reread this year’s words until late. I was pleased yet felt a silly as I saw myself sitting cross-legged and drunk upon my bed. Weak and shaky, I kept writing poetry alone in a pool of warm light and blankets until my neighbor stopped by. He asked me why did I struggle so with my drawing when writing just flowed from me. I tried to explain but couldn’t.


  1. More hugs, Mage. That's all I can say.

  2. Me too. This was a far heavier project than I knew.


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