Some people don’t believe in #God. Some don’t believe in the power of the universe. But I experienced a miracle last night. So much so, I wept and wept for hours. My best friend of fifty years called and I couldn’t even speak to her. It took me quite a while before I could even drive back home. I just sat in my car, in total disbelief, in despair, grieving and grateful at the same time.
I started this blog really for parents of children. I started it to make a difference, to perhaps save a child from harm. But today as I passed my Christmas tree, I saw one of my ornaments sparkling in the light as if it was the only ornament on this heavily decorated tree. The ornament is not the miracle, nor what it said. The miracle happened last night and the ornament reinforced the power of love. The ornament is one shiny word: BELIEVE.
I visited my friend Tony last night. This April we will have known each other for forty years. I met him right before my 17th birthday in 1977 and two years later we were engaged to be married. Anybody and everybody who knows me is sick of this story I’m sure, but it helps to explain my gift from the universe, God, or whatever you believe in. Tony cancelled our wedding, after we had deposits on a band, flowers, a hall and a photographer. I was devastated. He was the first man I ever fell in love with, the first man I ever made love to, and the first man, other than the father I never met, who broke my heart. We stayed apart for a decade and were reunited at a friend’s funeral where we became the closest of friends. I relied on his opinion for a lot of things, especially fashion. A lot of gay men have a keen eye for what drapes the human body so it can look its best. Yes, that is why we didn’t get married. Tony is gay but we loved each other like the title of our #Streisand song, “Evergreen” Tony is dying now. He has #LewyBodyDimentia. Some people group the illness with #Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed at 54. He is 61 now. He can no longer walk, feed himself, or speak very well. He has been in a diaper for years now. I liked it better when I would try to get him on the toilet as he was losing his sense of balance, and we would be laughing and crying at the same time because from afar we looked ridiculous and in reality he knew he was losing his ability to wipe his own ass or even position himself on the bowl so he could poop.
Most of the time, Tony mumbles now. He may say a word or two clearly but mostly he just smiles and laughs or grunts if something hurts. During the first two hours of our visit yesterday, I fed him dinner, wiped his mouth, and picked up the food I inevitably drop while feeding him.
Most of the time, Tony mumbles now. He may say a word or two clearly but mostly he just smiles and laughs or grunts if something hurts. On a good day, he may even get out an entire sentence and respond intelligently to what you’re saying. Not enough for a paragraph, but a good sentence or two. During the first two hours of our visit yesterday, I fed him dinner, wiped his mouth, and picked up the food I inevitably drop while feeding him. I was disappointed because he hadn’t said one word clearly last night at that point. He mumbled a lot and smiled a lot.
I wheeled him back to his room. We took a picture together in front of the tree his partner had put up in December. As usual, after dinner, we watch TV together. The #Notebook was on whatever station he had on the television. At first, I wanted to change the channel because I knew I would get upset but Tony and I were holding hands, Tony in his wheelchair that I relined back for him and me, sitting on a chair I had placed by his side. Toward the end of the movie, Ally mentally comes back to Noah for a short while, a brief break from #Alzheimer’s. I remembered someone telling me they should never have put that scene in the movie because the person never comes back. Just as I was remembering what I had been told, Tony clearly said the following: “I want Jeannine.” I jumped up and through my arms around him and said, “I right here sweetheart,” As I held him tight, he said, “I love you.” I began to cry, as I am as I write this. When I released my grip and looked into his eyes, he was lucid and said, “I know you’re busy.”. I sat back down and kissed his hand, mostly so he couldn’t see my tears. Still looking at his hand, I told him I will never leave him. He said, “I know.”
He didn’t speak again. I leaned against his arm, holding his hand and wiping my tears. Something else was playing on the TV now but I couldn’t tell you what it was because I was in another world now myself. When I finally pulled it together, I got him some ice water, one of his favorite things to drink, even when he was well, and he sipped all of it through his straw until there was nothing left. I hugged him and told him I would be back soon. I kissed him on his mouth, as I always do and waved as I walked away. He always smiles as I leave. I usually smile too, even as I walk out of the nursing home, just happy to have spent time with him. But last night, I wept as soon as I was out of his sight. I know for a short moment he came back to me. He spoke clearly. He was my Tony once more and that gift was also a curse. I wanted to see it only as a gift but I couldn’t. I begged God to give stop making my life so difficult. There has been too much suffering over the past fifty-six years. But then a calmness filled my body. I was able to see the night as a gift. I was able to see my life, my daughter, my home, and my great friends, all as gifts. I tried to commit #suicide twice and I was so happy to be alive, so grateful I didn’t succeed. 2017 is going to be a great year. It is my 40th anniversary with Tony, my 50th anniversary with my best friend Debbie, and best of all, my beautiful daughter is getting married. As usual, I started to pray that nothing goes wrong. I am always frightened. I am frightened that any joy I have will be short-lived and taken away from me, so I live my life in fear a lot of the time, fear and doubt. Today my mind was going back and forth between joy and fear. I was so grateful to be in my home, looking at my tree. I was grateful my daughter text me to see the choices she made for her registry. I was grateful I had a job. But then I thought about what I perceive as my failures, my weight, my inability to sell my books or make a difference in a child’s life, and my failure to serve my purpose through my charity, R.A.C.H.E.L.S bunk2bunk. It was then that I got up to get something to drink and saw that shiny ornament: BELIEVE. It was then that I thought about all the gifts in my life, some of which I couldn’t appreciate because my mind, or trauma, or just plain blindness, wouldn’t allow me to.
The name of my blog is a combination of my two children’s books: “Looking in the Mirror” and “Cuckoo Bananas”. The world is cuckoo bananas. Life is cuckoo bananas. I watched “Snowden” today. Some see him as a brave man trying to make a difference, others see him as a traitor. But it shows one person can make a difference. Tony still makes a difference in my life. My daughter makes my life worth living. My friends bring me peace when I lose my way. In this cuckoo bananas world I am one person. We are all individuals. My prayer for everyone is to experience their lives by choosing to see themselves as a miracle. We each touch lives, hopefully in a good way. As for me, I am choosing to continue my mission to make a difference. I am choosing to BELIEVE I can.