THE ONES WHO PAY ATTENTION

I heard a good man today say he recently sat by his ex-wife’s bedside and nurtured her for the last two weeks of her life. I could not stop my tears. While my ex-wife may have a different outcome, she is fighting a life threatening monster of an ailment: aplastic anemia, a shit of a condition in which the bone marrow refuses to make the amount of platelets it was hired to make.


The man’s voice moved through and past his tears, then through and past mine ,and right to the center of my heart.



We are each of us human, life and death happens to us whether we like it or not and each of us has only so much say. While none of us alone can save the world, or save each other from the world, we can remember to love each other, to be there for each other. It is the being there that means the most, at least that is my feeling.


Someone once asked me who I remembered most after my hardest hits in life: the shooting, the death of my father, the suicides of a mother, brother, birth-father. Without having to think about it I said, The ones who paid attention. Those that made the biggest difference were the ones that simply paid attention.


Many years ago I was among a group of 15 folks or so that were trained in crisis counseling by two very talented social workers from New York City’s non-profit Victim Services Agency. I remember one of the social workers, Inez Kramer, telling us, “Always remember, the one who is doing the most talking is the one who is getting the most help.”


Thank you for helping me tonight. Thank you for paying attention.

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INTO THE THROAT OF GOD

A woman I loved and love is fighting a disease that can take her life: aplastic anemia.

Aplastic anemia is sonuvabitch low-life medical reality wherein the bone marrow conducts something of a wildcat walkout and decides to reduce the number of blood platelets it is designed to produce. The woman I am referring to was my wife. And while she may be an ex-wife on paper, she is my wife insofar as my heart is concerned. In other words, while the marriage may not have worked for us, she is still family. She always will be.

When she wrote and told me what she is dealing with I collapsed into tears and anguish, a churning emotional condition that soon turned into rage at this hideous reality she is unjustly having to deal with. The anger ran so deep I wanted to drive my hands deep into the throat of God and say, You put us here, the least you could do is explain why you do this to some of us. Fuck blind faith in you. Explain yourself.

Platelets are important players for all of us. They are disc-shaped elements in the blood that help with blood clotting. While they are often thought of as blood cells, they are actually fragments of bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes.

There are some treatments, including a bone-marrow transplant. I have already written her and told her that if by chance my marrow is a match, it is hers for the taking. Moreover, wherever this journey she is on takes her, I told her I will be there for her, whether by e-mail, phone or in person.

I can tell you this woman is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known. She has, without question, one of the most creative minds I’ve ever known and she is deeply compassionate to her fellow human beings.

She also has a sense of humor (and laugh) surpassed by no one I know. I’ll give you an example. I once asked her if she could find a way of letting me when we were in those four of five days a month when she and perfection were synonyms and I was a complete and utter ass and wholly incapable of getting anything right much less understanding anything. She said she would think of something. One evening a week or two later I was in bed reading when she came into the room with a huge steak knife in hand and a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “Oh,” she said, “You’re still awake, I’ll be back,” and away she went.

Like I said, great sense of humor, which would make sense because she is a great person. And a willpower of solid steel. If you asked me to bet on her or the aplastic anemia; my money is on her – big time.
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