Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Inside my soul was always this hidden desire to reach the top where fame and fortune would coincide with all the pleasures that I desired at the time. I thought that all that I would want would be mine and nothing would step in the way of my ideals. As a teen you can see the bright lights beaming their way toward you and pulling you in with temptation and a hidden false sense of security. I would always search for that beam in the faint twilight of most every evening and as usual it would appear in my head and give me one more day that passed on my journey to "stardom".
I always believed that by dreaming that I would get down that road as swiftly as Dorothy's ruby slippers took her home, only mine were not made of rubies and I see now that converse tennis shoes and bass wee gin penny loafers didn't make the spark to send me flying anywhere. Just the same I still clicked my heels and waited for instructions on where to land.

When I did finally make it on a stage and sang for many people, my reality into the world of fame was quite a shock to my system. I realized early on that I cherished my solitude too much to be invaded by people and hounded by press. Yet still the entertainment bug kept biting me. I reached out for different venues that would put me in the spotlight and then I could walk away and have enough for the moment until it was time to be satiated with more applause wrapping around me for the music and show that I gave the audience. I encouraged any and all to join in my fun and what an experience and workout that turned out to be. Among the talented people who shared in my fun was one who stood out from all the rest.
SHE was a knockout, not only in the looks department but also with a voice that could melt steel. She had an interest in singing secretly hidden, so I made it my goal to pull out notes from her throat that would alter her view of natural raw talent. The problem with that awareness was her lack of confidence, and no matter how you hope to bring security to a living soul, it has to come from within.

On our first approach to singing together, I approached it quite candidly and gave her a song that we both loved and chanced it as a duet. The days of beginning vocal workouts were grueling and her pointed tongue and insecurities made it hell. It was within those early rehearsals that I brought to the forefront of her mind the actualities of a voice that had been hidden within and showed the possibilities that could come from taking chances.
We debuted at a private party and she surprised everyone. We looked around as all the many guests were stunned to hear the alluring sounds emanate from her mouth. I too was taken aback at how easily it all came off. Those weeks of rehearsals opened up a Pandora's box of vocal delights. We merged together on that evening which would take us both on a musical journey to understanding each other and learning the things that would put us on our defense of self preservation.

As a duo we were a strong force and our presence in any gathering stood us out from the crowd. Most times people would speak of the envy that they had due in part to the allegiance that we held for each other. Most all of our time was spent working on our future singing plans. When we were not recording our music we were divulging information to each other of personal interest's and the insecurities that we held for people in general. The latter made it sort of a struggle to keep our patience with people who seemed to annoy us just by being. This attitude was due in part by our insidious nature of feeling above the rest while the others never seemed to get us or fit in to our very closed circuitry of thought waves. It truly did not matter who may have been around us as we only were tuned in to one station that held one spot on the dial of Dynamic Duo Radio.
We were young and realized early on that we were bound by karmic ties that superseded the actual realities of the present day. In other words the ties that bind were not going to come loose anytime soon, at least not in this round of life experiences. Her singing was lilting but her direct candor was venomous yet alluring like honey, you just could not get enough. Pure honesty is a blessed attribute, but for some people it would feel like an merciless beating unprepared for. My attraction to her was a mirror image of myself which made it even more challenging when faced with each others personal feelings on a subject that did not blend easily. OUCH!

We started production on our first foray into local theatre by putting together a variety show, based on a theme that we both loved. It was overwhelming to be in charge of such a group of people who all seemed scattered in their focus. It took some pointed rehearsing but we came together and gave a super performance much to the delight of the audiences that paid to see it all. The "duo" was pointed out as the standout performances of the show, and in hindsight I can understand why. We were in tune more than the rest because we had put our time and energy into the show from the beginning which created a performance based on months of mind rehearsing it all. From that crazy fun show, it spun off many more performances and a constant swing of engagements both private and public. It was amazing for me to watch her become this personality that ignited as soon as the spot was aimed in her direction. The confidence that seemed so elusive appeared when illuminated, only to disappear as soon as the song or performance ended. The enigma of it all left me at times confused and dazed but it became a recognizable trait within her personality.

It was very apparent that we held between us a blend of previous life experiences that got in the way of the reality of "the now of then". There would be a bevy of roads that would have to be traveled which led us to different crossroads. I took a left when SHE took a right, and vice-versa. Whatever road was walked solitarily we would always book that return flight back home to each other to check in and await the next song to be sung. Experiences together and separately would make us realize that life really was a stage and we each got to play our part as the roles were given out. The many people who stood with us on our stage during certain scenes from our lives all seem to have faded into the background and yet the faint hue from the hidden stage lights still illuminate the memories of those times that we shared with them.
Some of our songs got ovations while others left us with lyrics in our heads that shaped the futures that laid ahead of us. Love songs made us cry and inspirational songs filled our hearts with the hope that we strive for everyday. When I think about it,really...... we are still appearing daily on life's theatre stage, and we are still waiting for that one song to be sung together again. The script still has some rewrites and the author needs to make some adjustments.....but all in all....that spotlight still is aimed at us and we will appear once again in the sequel that is yet to be named but is definitely in the works.
As a matter of fact, I am almost certain the flight arrangements are being made as I sit here and write this...

Monday, May 24, 2010


Months of nights and years of days.....Did you ever contemplate in a numerical way just how many days and nights that you have had consciousness? All the Octobers that drifted into the summer days that we all anticipated. Winters that never ended and springs that gave way to all things new. I recently have seemed to be more aware of the time element that comes with the age factors.
It was just recently I had taken my usual dog walk with my best dog friend and while she may be older she still chugs along albeit at times a bit slower than those early years, but on this morning we made it to the dog park and then the happiness sprang forth in her gait to find the closest squirrel. I was listening to my I-pod when a sentimental song started just as I was enjoying the sunlight and the leisurely stroll. It was at that time that I noticed my dog glistening in the sunlight, sniffing around all the aromas that took her pleasure. Suddenly she turned too quickly and down she slipped and my heart skipped a beat hoping she was alright when up she popped and moved on. I stood there and watched and once again she slid and went down once again, and once again she pulled herself back up as if nothing had happened. I watched in awe of her total lack of fear of what had just happened, like she knew she had to get back up and try again. With the song from my headphones emotionalizing my feelings I felt the floodgates of water begin to open in my eyes and realized that I would have to witness another transition of life, when she must leave me. I knew at that moment that the times to pay attention more have arrived and every remaining second I have to share with man's best friend is priceless and must be savored and filed in the precious memory file. That file will be opened at a later date when you have transitioned from any loss.

I stood the numbly on the walkway observing my surroundings as if I had never been there. The clouds, blue skies, newly leafed trees and wild creatures scampering too and fro when suddenly I got the feeling that someone was sending me a message that was being received loud and clear. With the music beginning the awareness, to my dog rushing to me to see if I was ok, as if she could smell the tears that ran down my face. I bent down to get my dose of dog licks when I realized that my messages were coming from a maternal signal. My awareness was making me realize that I am the age that Mother was when she transitioned without notice.
I then suddenly became aware of the same date in May twenty five years ago when I saw her alive for the last time. I could never put my finger on it but my psychic feeling made me on edge, and completely of mistrust with my Mother's health. She of course would not give in to any details other than that everything was given a doctor's approval. Still I felt uneasy and unassuredly accepted her answer.

I began to understand what was happening to me and why my emotions took a turn to sadness in those few moments. The age that I was experiencing at the present time was her stopping point and I suddenly was overwhelmed at the thought of not getting to move forward to complete my future hopes and dreams in my autumn years. While I know that our lifestyles were different I gave into the heredity facts for a moment and rushed to assume the worst when I was graciously appeased with the sense of maternal vibrations moving through me that calmed me. I then turned to see my furry friend jog softly by towards the trees and received the signal that I was being watched. She suddenly stopped to search for me as if to say "I'm over here if you need me".

Smiling through the tears I made a pact with myself and aimed it back toward my maternal linking signal that I would be even more aware of every gifted second that I live in my life. I will appreciate the lives I share now and the ones in the future that may have to leave this earth . They all will know the love I have for them as my signal will be sent out loud and clear. I will remember this day and the amazing ability of animal adaptation to go with the flow that life will give you.

Yes... on that crisp, cool morning, a wise old dog showed me the way to face life head on despite any physical changes. As I watched her rise from the falls I knew then that I would be able to get up and move along also... towards my next month of nights and years of days.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Within everyone there lies the secret desires to fly away to foreign places and recreate the person that you wanted to leave behind. In the wake of those dreams there will lie the answers to the fantasy that you desired to experience. Most of those ideals are not at all what you would have expected or desired yet in their midst lies some pretty amazing events that altered the realities that you had never considered before your embarkation. As a die hard dreamer and fantasist the amount of dreams that I think about daily could not possibly be realized. At an early age I did have the inspiration from a high school teacher who gave us an assignment that would take a school year to complete. We were to make a list of our twenty most important life things that we would want to do in our life. The list would start at the number twenty being the easiest and the number one being the hardest in our opinion to achieve. With each choice we were to think about our choices and make the reason's solid and well thought through.
As with most young adults it was an assignment that was to be easily put off till the end and was quickly put down on paper the evening before it was to be due. This was one assignment that took me asunder. How in the hell could I narrow down the list to twenty things when that list kept growing daily of the things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. While the others shrugged it off I became overtly neurotic about each choice I would write down. Write, erase, write and erase and add and take away, day after day the list would change pending daily life scenarios and ups and downs. I can't explain why it seemed so important to get it just right as there was no right or wrong to the assignment, you were to just search your hearts desire. And boy did I have an enlarged heart full of ideals.
The list was to be presented to the class as a whole with each person sharing each others desires on their list. It was absolutely mind expanding to listen to the people that you traveled through school days with unwrap their private desires and expose them to peer opinions. Each day all of us in class would witness surprising information that matched each personality. I couldn't help but wonder if any of us would really take this on and really follow suit. As I stood to make my presentation I held my own determination to explain how I would achieve my own personal goals and when I finished I swore that I would not rest until each and everything on my list would get accomplished. I kept that list carefully stored and began my journey into solo adulthood. With my trusty pen in hand I was ready to start checking off my list so I fastened my seat belt snugly and took off for the blue unfamiliar skies.

My first dream checked off was put in the order of the hardest, yet it was to be the easiest. My list was upside down and played out in opposite order. As the years ticked by my top twenty list began winding down and not one of the ideals or fantasies that played out in my mind when written was to be seen in the actual realities. In fact the reality was far better than the fantasy and after all was said and done I walked way with far more than I could have ever imagined. I would neatly connote little bits of footnotes with each check mark and ponder just how I came to write down these choices when life had taken so many multiple crossroads not considered, yet I always ended up still facing myself in the mirror which on some days was very frightening.
The many things that were encountered on the flights to each goal were life changing. All of the people that shared the time and those flights also shared my row of seats. When we had reached our destinations they moved on to continue with their own list of accomplishments. Some people left a lasting impression yet others are hard to recall. When my memory flashes back to the fond memory of human kindness it can ignite emotion that had been kept hidden and was finally realized as impacting on my silent psyche.

I took the challenge to take my last list goal and take off to a foreign country where I made it my goal to take on the fluency of a new language and the country of France was my choice with which to do so. I felt ready and prepped for what I thought would be a fun and easy breezy flight. I had been studying endlessly and figured that I would just pick where I left off in my own private studies but the language institute would be the decision maker as to what level I would begin at.
As with any first day of school,at any age, it can unleash the demons of learned school behavior that sneaks out unconsciously and turns your mature mind power back into six grade gibberish. The latent school insecurities unravel any sense of being cool and mentally together and suddenly you feel lost in the classroom and sit and plan your escape. The only problem is you paid for this ride and there are no ticket refunds.
This was a no nonsense school of language and you would not leave the school until you could understand and speak with ease in any situation you may encounter. You may have paid for the ride but they were not letting you step out the door toward vocal freedom until you proved you could survive out in the real world en francais.

As the classes progressed I realized how little I really knew and how easily I could be intimidated for not speaking correctly. It became a total immersion into language translation. I was "Lost In Translation" until my brain finally kicked the habit of translating every word before I could speak. It was a battle to the end and then one day, just like the teacher said, it disappeared and was never to return. What I had, that was different from everybody else, was my very own private translator.
My personal translator gave me lessons most everyday and he really had no idea that he was doing so. His name was Claude and he was a crusty old gentleman who looked as salty as the sea. The ripples in his face told the story of the kind of life that he lived previously. He stood every morning by the long curvy driveway up to his retirement complex which overlooked the Mediterranean sea. As the blue of the sea glowed over everything, it created an even bluer hue to his mariners cap and that cigarette tucked behind his ear. He would stand so stoic as if he were sailing the ship that he spent so many years on. I never saw him smoke the cigarette but he always had it near in case the urge struck to light up.
He was very direct that first morning when I met him and with my broken understanding of slang french, I realized that he was introducing himself to me and wanted to strike up a conversation. The talk was staggered by my trying to understand most of what he said. I finally got across to him that I would be late for school but insisted that we continue our conversation after school. I had hoped that I got that message across well enough and looked forward to the end of the day hoping that he would be out there waiting on my walk back home. Much to my happiness he waited for my arrival on the bench overlooking the amazing view of the Cote d'Azur. I happily took my spot on the bench next to him and it was there that we began our daily conversations.
His incredible stories opened my imagination as if I was being read to by my parents as a child. I learned a whole new conversive language and began to spin my visions of his life in my head. When he spoke I could feel the movement of the sea and the waves that moved him around the world in his nautical career. With each violent storm I felt the fear of hanging on to the ship until the seas subsided. I cried when he spoke of losing dear comrades to the angry sea and the effects of wartime.Yes, I had my own translator who was as dear as a Grandpa and who gave that big bear hug when it was time to leave. I found myself incorporating word skills that he so patiently explained to me. There were times that he helped with the homework that was so dreaded. He approached this whole scenario with such fervor that everyday it gave me more courage to see it all through and melted away all intimidation of language insecurity.
He explained that most of his family was deceased and that the French Navy was taking great care of his needs and that he loved being in the elite retirement home but that he missed the company that had long ago disappeared for reasons that life exposes. We grew together,two total strangers, who were united by a beautiful morning walk and fate. He became a new relative and would always hold the space in my heart as my "Papi". To say goodbye and know that I would never see him again was tough on my heartstrings. On the last evening before I would exit my French ville I wanted to rendezvous one last time on our bench. We watched our last sunset over the Mediterranean and as the darkness fell and we stood to hug and say goodbye, our eyes were pulled up to look one last time at the sky. It was at that moment that we both witnessed the phenomenon known as "Haley's Comet". As we stood in our embrace we watched the white round orb and its streaking multicolored tails sweeping across the sky.
He whispered that he would never see the likes of that again and how blessed he was to share it with me. Through the tears I said that I would not have wanted to see it any other way.
As that comet now flies swiftly through the universe, on its tail rides the the life energy known as Claude. I can't help but believe that fate delivered this vision to leave an indelible inking within my memory banks.

Upon my arrival back home from my French experience I could not help but hear the changes that occurred while training my brain to listen to language. I had never paid attention before. My own English became renewed and for the first time in my life I actually listened when someone spoke and understood information in ways I never thought was possible. My ears took in new sound information and my brain delivered it intelligently.
I didn't get the skills from sitting all that time in those classrooms, no.... I got it from human communication and from stories that would rival any thrilling novel or movie. My channel for learning came simply by experiencing a shared flight on board the Mariner's express. En route to the universal space of words.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


At first the thought of returning back to the home front that you despised so greatly was an awful thought but at the coaxing of my best friend I reluctantly agreed and decided to let the trip speak for itself. With immense trepidation and a bag full of unhappy scenarios disguised as clothes I made my way to the airport for the liftoff back in time. Upon arrival, the joy of connecting with my lifeline friend took the edge away that I so greatly carried with me all those miles toward my hometown. I must admit that things appeared differently and the highway whisked us away from the airport to our home port destination. Traveling such a distance proved a bit tiring but my curiosity took a hold of me and began to spin the familiarities that are hidden deep in the cortex of your brain in the file marked "TOP SECRET". Suddenly the avenues and streets came up to greet me as if I had never left them in the first place. It was a little discerning but at the same time intriguing.
He had already scoped out our previous haunts and living quarters as well as the liquid libation lounges that catered to our tastes. It was like having your own personal driver who drove the time machine that took you back to the beginnings of your insecurities and dreams. While life had moved forward and buildings and skylines had risen the overall mind structures remained the same.
With every neighborhood visited there were ghosts of things past that jumped out to remind you of what was, only now the fear of being frightened by those past ghosts only left me feeling warm and sensitive. The houses where we once lived still stand and though they may appear to be a different color the vision that we held was the way we remembered it, only now other people were making their own ghosts of tomorrow.
The high school's we went to were the same and did not yield any harrowing memories but just reminded us of how quickly we wanted to be rid of textbooks and peer pressure.
We relived the craziness of the boredom that would overtake us daily and how we would plan our escape out of "Death Valley". There were not a lot of people left here that we knew and just a small amount of family that gave me the interest to reconnect if I would be welcomed by them to do so.
All around me the fears that I had come to make up in my mind were melting away and I beheld a new view of what was. The youthful distaste had somehow disappeared and was being replaced with a sweetness that maturity can give by life experiences. No one gets to understand that until they go back and deal with it their own way, as it is not easy to restructure your past ideas with the truths of today.

The connection to my roots is one that I have surreptitiously kept within only to spill out like venom when referencing some related incidence in the present. It has been an unrecognized burden to carry all these years. Now and only now do I realize that it was unnecessary to even hold on to the past distorted memories as they are not at all what they seemed to play out to be, or what I have chosen to use in my defense of something irritating. Incidents that seemed so huge before are now just faded memories that have no use anymore. Driving the streets of my past have recreated a different kind of curb appeal. I look at the scenery and search for the unhappy feelings but the feelings now emerge calmly and serendipitous. It feels odd to recognize the changes that have come about from returning to my home town. I had always assumed that a sort of misery would be created by the surroundings of my youth, except I have found quite the contrary.

The one thing that still remains true is that I will never return to conclude the life that started here many years ago. No, that cannot be and that emotion has never left, and while I am able to appreciate from where I came, I now know that my final destiny is elsewhere.
Growing up in the sun, with beaches everywhere and a climate to keep you warm all year long has given way to the four seasons that my life has offered.
I can now see that the spring of my youth was spent here in my hometown where all things were new and to be recognized in those early years.
Then it gave way to my long summers which took me away to all sorts of destinations which exposed me to the experiences that have prepared me for the autumn that is unfolding before me now.
I am thankful for my return flight home, for it has taught me that all was not as it seemed. I have had this forgiving journey to make quiet ammends to the ideas that I so immaturely thought about and unhappily remembered. It was making peace with the truth that has allowed me to look at past things with a smile instead of a frown.

This evening I sat on the seawall and watched the dimming golden sun meet the Gulf waters. I pondered how long it had been since I watched the sunset on my long forgotten shoreline and I realized that it was the first time that I truly became aware of such a natural wonder that was there all the time. It was hidden by my impetuous youth which stole the focus of such beauty. Today.....however... made up for all the missed sunsets....as the sun set, and brought the daylight to an end....I felt the inner glow of peace as I knew I made friends once again with my homefront.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


She was a Nor-easterener who arrived down South via her husbands job transfer. I know for certain that she was not ready for the mentality of the southern kind. She was perhaps the most elegant and socially poised lady I have ever known. Upon arrival for her hair appointment I was greeted with the savoir-faire that only a few possess and very few carry off. All the makings of a debutante and all the class of a true blue blood. Her style and grace drew me to her the moment I shook her hand, and the honest friendship we shared sailed our boat for many years. I was never surprised when cocktails were poured as her extremely keen sense of honesty would prevail. For those who happened to be in our presence when that occurred, would walk away dumbfounded and took a look at what may have been brought to their attention if it was noticed by the lady "EVE". It was always amusing when innocent people got what I would call a "review". You had no choice but to take a look at yourself and analyze what would be a profound observation that she so uncannily perceived.

She was tall and statuesque, with the very finest blond hair and a smooth complexion that was a creamy ivory color. The fairest skin tone made her extremely sensitive to any light intensity and the sun was not her friend. Sunlight was a bitter enemy and the southern exposure only made it worse for her to live in. She was a night girl and the night life was what she preferred. Her husband was a chronic worker and she was a chronic socialite and loved the theatre, the arts and any and all parties. I became the token arm date and we traveled the many roads to any event that needed our presence. It was not unusual to see the sun come up when we would be together. Her husband hardly noticed her absence and never questioned her activities. He knew me to be his replacement and that placed him in a thankful category to not be the one dragged to all the "events" on her social calendar. We mingled with the elite and became regulars at the opera, ballet and any entertainment venue that she was interested in. She drew people to her and conversations would never end as she always had something to talk about.
Her loud voracious laughter could ignite a room and everyone in it would soon catch the infectious laughing bug and you could observe a rare and beautiful thing when you see that a crowd is all smiles. I was in awe of her and silently drew an immense amount of enlightenment from her, and yet she never knew that to be the case.
Well ....not until later...

She was always at the top of my invite list and many other's lists. She would always arrive late and be the last to leave any party. The social engagements that I and my singing partner would entertain at, she was always there cheering us on and creating an energy that made our performances even more electric. At times we could hardly stop the laughter that burst out of us when performing as her laugh would take us away and leave us lost and scrambling to get back on track. She was a mentor and showed me insights into life that I still use to this day.
Her family accepted me as if I was born into their family. Her "Kentucky Derby" parties would be on a par of a Hollywood Social Gathering. The champagne and cocktails flowed all day long at that event, but when it came time for the race, all bets were on and boy did the money flow from all those wealthy people. She was a mean gamester and cast a heavy monetary shadow when the horses began to run. Since betting was illegal in our Georgia town, it was not a problem in the private residence, at a private gathering. The elite crowd became agitated when the race took off and all their sculptured vocabulary became a unique blend of four letter word sentences. All the polished demeanor's were lost for the time until a winner was announced. The winners popped champagne bottles left and right, and conversations returned to a normal eloquence. The amount of money bet on split among the winners and the losers money was given to her charities. A good time would be had by all and the talk for many a day thereafter. I would leave the party realizing that I had witnessed an amazing event that was incredibly carried out and knew that was pure enjoyment for all who attended.

Not long after one of the Derby parties, she came in for her usual weekly hair appointment. I noticed something on her scalp and at first I thought it was an average scalp abrasion yet over the next couple of weeks the small abrasion changed to three different colors and I became alarmed. I made a three attempts to suggest strongly that she have a doctors visit, all which she dismissed for a month and then finally I put my foot down and told her that I would not continue her appointments if she did not get the area checked. She relented and went in to see the doctor.
The results were not of a positive result. It was diagnosed as malignant melanoma, a diagnosis that no one wants to hear. It was not a surprise to see how she handled that information, for it concluded with a scotch and water and an assignment for me to procure a very nice wig for her to wear during the chemotherapy period. Once again I was in true amazement as her outlook and demeanor were totally carried out with finesse. It was harder for me to understand how I was chosen to make that observation and totally be responsible for awareness that was brought on by that small scalp intrusion. It changed all of us who were involved in her physical transition. We grew to understand just how quickly life can change and how aware you must be at all times to appreciate the health and happiness that are ever present and go unnoticed or appreciated.
She turned the corner with a remission report that unequaled most with her type of melanoma. So she celebrated life as it was once was before the cancer and returned to her social life as if it had never ended. I became overtly paranoid that something might happen again and after a couple of years my uncertainties faded and I rode the tide of health with her and took in her aura of positivity. There were many more social engagements and more Derby parties and life moved forward for quite a while.
It was never mentioned to me until later that she made it her least favorite thing to do which was reoccurring doctors appointments for checkups on her blood levels. She hated them and simply allowed appointments to be missed and pushed them out of her mind so they would not interfere with her calendar. The physical changes that occurred in one week were monumental. As I wet her head to do the weekly shampoo I felt many soft like mounds that almost covered her entire head. I was not sure if it was water spray or not but I realized that my eyes had filled with tears and my face was wet from the tears that brimmed like a flood gate had opened. It was lucky that she did not see that play out as it would have been a dead giveaway that something was wrong, and I knew once again that I had to break the news that something was awry.

I waited till we were almost finished with her appointment when I told her what I had found during that shampooing. She told me that she had not been getting her checkups and that this could possibly have been avoided if she had followed up but she just did not want to miss a single moment of life and that was just too much for her to do and sitting in a doctor's office was not on her list of social engagements. We called for an appointment immediately after our talk and she told me she would let me know what was found after her test results. We agreed to meet up at our favorite restaurant when she found out before the rest of the family would know. She drew me close to her heart by allowing me to share such an event that would be ever so life changing for her and myself.
Three days later I sat anxiety ridden for her to appear at our favorite restaurant, and when she appeared I scanned her face for tell tale signs of sadness yet I could not find any. She sat down and quickly tossed back a few sips of her cocktail and then she began to talk and I felt like I had left my body and felt ethereally high above looking down and watched her world come crumbling down. She could barely make the words audible through the waterworks streaming down her face, but her diagnosis came with a timeline that would play out within forty five days. In that spilt second of verbal acknowledgement I was frozen with fear that my friend would not be with me for much longer and literally could not comprehend that she had an exact amount of time with which to live before her body would let her down.
There is no way to explain how much love, hate, anger, fear and awareness that spilled out that evening. We could hardly stop the flow of water that seeped from our eyes. We bonded once more in an entirely different way. Suddenly she stood up and needed to use the bathroom facilities and I was too caught up in the moment and the huge amounts of thoughts that pummeled my brain to realize that many minutes ticked by. When she returned, she was laughing hysterically. I feared she had lost control when she began to tell me a story that I still share with people when they are confronted with a health scare.
I finally came to realize that she was in a good frame of mind and she relayed her story exactly as it happened. It seems that she had been preparing her toilet seat to sit down when she was peeling off the toilet paper to cover the seat as she had done time after time throughout her life as been instructed by her Mother, to prevent any germ contamination, when she stopped midway and spoke to herself out loud. With her panties down around her ankles and just about ready to sit, she stopped midway and pushed the toilet paper into the water and defiantly said "to hell with it. What have I got to lose I always wanted to experience a public toilet seat" At that moment she had freed herself from self pity and focused on what she wanted for get done before the time line ran out.
The next afternoon she explained the situation to her family and they embraced it as well as they could. She informed them that she was in control of her feelings and had alternative plans for her exit from this world and that they all needed to be on board and accepting of her final choices. I reacted curiously and did not make a connection until after the family meeting when we went out for lunch and she handed me a plain brown mailing envelope that held a book within.
She informed me that she ordered it from England years before when she was ill the first time, but had kept it hidden and out of sight, but now it needed to be read.
Within it's content held a bevy of recipes to end one's life quickly and easily without any chance of a slip up. It held amazing ways with which to end the suffering of a loved one or yourself. It was a book that held many secrets that would help many spare their last moments of life before the pain would take over. While the judgement of this choice was not mine to make I upheld her conviction to do it her way as she had done her whole adult life. All involved were on the same path and agreed that she would take the lead and we would follow suit as spelled out in that "book".
The last few weeks of her life were spent with all of us sharing and embracing the reality of what we would be facing very soon. I have never laughed so much and cried for selfish reasons that pertained to my fear of the loss that could never be filled again. I watched in amazement as she walked those last weeks as if nothing was wrong and always kept her positive sense of humor. Cocktails at six was always the start of the evening's festivities that we shared together in those last days.

It came as described by the doctor, that numb feeling that would end up paralyzing the right side of her face. When that recognition occurred it would be her decision to not allow it to go any further. It was a decision that we all accepted and kept silent about. At this crossroad came the final path she would choose to walk down.
Our instructions were simple: We were to go out to dinner and then she strongly suggested that a movie afterwards would be a nice ending to the evening. Dinner was unusually converse with not a mention of her sagging face and when it was finished she wanted to beg off and go home but insisted that we drop her off and leave her alone to rest a while. The decision to take her back was unanimous and we dropped her off and we went to the cinema. While nary a word or thought came out in sentence form we were all suspicious that her bedtime cocktail would make her rest comfortably for a very long time.

Upon arrival back home after the movie, we walked in to find her beautifully attired and poised elegantly on top of the bed. An empty cocktail glass sat on the night stand and her aura permeated the room as she had made her exit from life gracefully.
There were no tears just all of us smiling and realizing what courage it took to free herself and how divine she looked laying on the bed. A kiss goodbye was given by all in that room that evening.
We followed her instructions and we laid her to rest as she had chosen. I walked away on that final day split between happiness and sadness and felt angry that she had to be taken from her physical body. I had to realize that the amount of gift that she left me with would be with me the rest of my physical cognitive days. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and the inspiration that she left with me. She stared death in the face and came out a winner to all she touched with her grace. If she were here she would chastise me for even taking the time to tell her story for all to read. She definitely would not want me to lose the time involved in the writing as it might make me late catching the next flight out to my next life destination.