A work in progress.
This blog isn’t called unfinished thinking for nothing. This post meanders, screams for editing and screams for an ending. I’ll try to get back to it later.
Two weeks to live.
Eighteen months ago, Jason and I spent a three-day weekend at the beach with a good friend and his son, who is also a good friend. The four guys ate wonderfully (thank you, Jason) and had some fabulous conversations. It was among the best weekends of my life. Father-son conversations get better when the son’s an adult; there aren’t any secrets or taboo subjects. You can talk about things in a deeper way. But, alas, when everyone’s an adult with adult responsibilities, get togethers like these are hard to schedule. We planned to make the beach trip an annual affair. But, as I said, 18 months have passed…
We’ve planned a mini-version of our beach weekend for next week. I can’t wait. (This time there won’t be a beach to get in our way: we’ll do it right here from our apartment.) This year we’re posing some questions to each other in advance of the meeting—some things to think about. Larry, who is my age (in fact, he’s actually much older than me), had the nerve to post this question:
If you were told you had only two weeks to live, how would you spend them and with whom?
Sensitivity isn’t Larry’s long suit.
The others will give hypothetical answers to the question. I guess I can be more specific.
When Ginny was first given my two-week “sentence,” I was in New York and feeling awful. None of us thought I’d make it two weeks. There were times when I didn’t want to make it two weeks. Somehow, with a lot of help from my longtime Martin Agency partner John Adams, Ginny got me back to our apartment in Richmond. I immediately felt better. Not great, but significantly better.
Now I wanted to live forever. Now I wanted time with Ginny, Jason, Carley, Ella and Patti. I wanted to see people I loved. I wanted to check in at work and see what was going on. I wanted to make the two-hour trip to our beloved house at Virginia Beach. Maybe take in some movies.
It was a great feeling. But first I needed to take a nap. And then I needed another one. And another one. I love it that my two-week sentence just passed the three-week mark—and I love it that I’m actually planning a “four guys” weekend for next week—but it quickly became clear that I couldn’t do much. Sometimes I feel kind of queasy, sometimes I’m very short of breath and sometimes I’m flat out exhausted. We now “triage” guests. Most days I meet with one or two groups of three or four people for about an hour each. It’s all I can do.
I have a lot of relatives. We’ve asked them to visit my mom at the retirement center instead of visiting me. I can’t see her much—and their visits mean the world to her (and to me.) I love them more than ever for doing that.
Friends in London, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New York and India (I think) have wanted to fly in to see me. It breaks my heart, but we’ve instructed them not to come. The fact is, we’ve had to cancel some of our scheduled in-town visitors with less than an hour’s notice: it would be crazy to make a long trip with my schedule so uncertain.
More to come.
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Oscar Wilde