Returns and departures

☺☺☺I am returned from Cleveland.  Someone asked if I cringe when someone mentions icebreaker.  Yes.  And, this time, I left the room.  I'd been trying to run into an old friend the whole time I was there.  This was the second day of the meeting, and I was running out of chances.  So, I left the meeting, found her, got my hug, chatted, and made it back to the meeting at the time that the icebreaker was scheduled to end and the first speaker begin.  (I am a 56 year old man and I refuse to stack plastic cups into a triangle in competition with some millennial in front of everybody that's supposed to look at me seriously the next time we're in a meeting together.  I am not doing that.)  Other than that, I was who we all know me to be.  I was charming.  I was casual.  I talked to people.  I talked about things other than work with them like how are you and how are your children and how's that new house, because I was amazed at how many things I remembered when I got there and got warmed up to the whole thing.  I got there early the first day and was surprised that people chose to sit next to me.  And, not the friends I would have expected.  Upper management of my group kind of people.  And, the second day was the same.  A different group of people.  But, when they sat down, there were empty chairs they could have chosen.  And, they chose to sit next to me.  And, we visited.  And, I found out new things to talk to them about the next time I see them. Funny how that works.

We did a skills assessment online test that was spot on for me.  Like the most spot on test like that I've ever done.  I feel into a group called Deliberative.  We're careful and we think through things and we bring others in to answer questions, and we anticipate obstacles.  Yeah, dat's me.  Even in my quilting, I sit and look at a quilt for a long time before I decide what to quilt in it. 

While I was there, I took time to resolve a conflict in a face to face meeting with my boss (despite a little stammering and sweating).  It was really eating me up.  And, he didn't tell me the truth.  And, that's okay, because he knows I know and I'm pretty sure that's enough to solve the problem.  And, I offered him a way out that lets him save face.  And, I shook a bunch of hands and met more of the people that I sit in meetings with face to face.  I've been on a team that was rewriting a booklet.  I've made sure to meet everybody on that team and shake their hand.  Some pretty important people were assigned to that project to make sure it ended up the way it was intended.  I was one of the driving forces on the team and now that we are being published, I'm receiving some pretty high praise.    And being noticed feels good. 

The rest of this is going to be extremely personal, so if you're not into that, you might want to look at the pretty picture and check out the next blog.  Y'all know this is a chronicle of my life, and I'm going to talk about part of my life. 

This is a quilt I made for our friend Linda, who I've always referred to as LD here.  She has been our friend and quilt show companion and one year I bought these fat quarters at a show and she liked them, so she got the quilt.  Around quilters, you have to be careful what you admire.  You may end up owning it.  I had forgotten how cute it is.  I think the pattern is called Kleenex Box and I got it from a blogger I followed.  I cannot remember who, so if it was you, Thank you!  Linda loves it.  It's been laundered and is being returned today, which I think will be a surprise. 

Over the last year or so, we've watched our friend Linda fade.  That's the only way I can describe it.  She once was vibrant.  And, now is faded.  And, she's done so while maintaining the highest of spirits.  You cannot be with her and avoid laughter.  Even when you can tell she is in pain, there is laughter.  And, we have spent as much time with her as we could and done as many things with her as we could, even going to the Georgetown quilt show together in early April.  But, now it's June and things have compounded to the point that our friend Linda is nearing her transition to someplace else...that place of memory. 

It takes a village to raise a child and Linda is a part of our village.  I remember the day we met.  We had invited her to go with us to the Round Rock quilt show.  She met us there and Sydney and I met her for the first time.  Since then, we've become great friends.  She's shared her history and her family stories and her stories about a bygone time and given Sydney a perspective neither Rob nor I could bring.  A unique opportunity to know a proud Texan in the tradition of Giant.  And, she has been a friend to Rob and I.  And, we have been a friend to her.  Helping where we could.  Stepping up where we needed to.  Making sure that when got here, it could be this way for us. 

They say that what we are taught about death when we are young is how we are with death all our lives.  That's not true for Rob and me.  I think that we were exposed to so much death in the 80's and 90's that we developed a different appreciation for how the transition should go.  We've learned not to have regrets where they can be avoided.  We've learned to appreciate those we love.  That way, in the end, you can celebrate what you had together. 

Unfortunately, I think we are going to be dealing with Linda's other family, which has taken a different approach and now has different feelings. 

The facts are that Linda has cancer.  It has attacked her spine and taken out a vertebra.  She has feeling down to her toes, but cannot move her legs.  She's in a neck brace, but can take it off to eat and visit.  No doctor can help and she is moving into hospice very soon.  Maybe today.  That is what I knew when I got home Wednesday night. 

Yesterday, I went to see her.  I took lunch.  I was expecting the worst.  I paused for a deep breath at the door, pulled my big boy boxer shorts up around my chin and I went in with my biggest smile...you know the one where my cheeks rise up and make my eyes close...the smile I got from my Dad.  Her oncologist was there saying goodbye.  That kind of made it real, but I am not to be deterred when food is involved.  We laughed.  We cried.  We held hands.  We ate chicken and dumplings.  And, we talked.  For a couple hours.  And, then I programmed her new phone,  which I would have bet money I could not do (and I'm pretty sure I said more than once I could not do while doing it) but needs, must, right?  And, I soldiered through. 

Unless they are moving her to hospice today, I plan to try to take lunch again.  And, will as often as I can and she can eat it.  Because cooking was her thing and she will not eat hospital food.  (in an earlier hospitalization the nurses learned to withhold her diet Cokes until she agreed to eat something...yeah, we might have suggested that a little bit, but it worked)  And, because of the enthusiasm she showed while attacking that bowl of dumplings yesterday.  Like a kid with a spoon.  And, a delighted twinkle in her eye.  Who gives a crap if it's a 35 minute drive both ways, right?  I'm only missing work.  Wadevvah. 

I believe, when it's all over, only two things will count.  How many times you reach out to help.  And, how many times you laugh.  And, as soon as I get done crying, I'm going to laugh.  (and reach out when I can.)

Have a wonderful day!  Extend your hand.  Laugh.  Because that's what will make today count.  And, if you laugh at something really funny (especially if it's just the tiniest bit naughty or has a thoughtful double entendre) think of my friend Linda.  She probly would love it. 

But mostly she'd appreciate that you thought of her when you laughed. 



Pati said...

Lane, I'm so sorry to read about your Linda. Cancer just sucks! Thank you for making her life brighter! You are an inspiration to me!

bets said...

Oh, Lane, I am so sorry to hear about your friend. I have been able to tell how much she meant to you, just in the short time I've been reading your blog. Gentle hugs to you both! Betsy

Anonymous said...

Oh Lane, I don't know you, Rob or your dear friend. But I am sobbing right now. Sending love, hugs and prayers for all of you. For sure, you are a cherished friend to many. The world could certainly use more caring people such as you. You touch people's hearts that you aren't even aware of. Mine is one. Thank you for being the beautiful, caring person that you are. May God keep His comforting arms around all of you through this journey.


Megan said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with your friend Lane.

I wanted to congratulate you for handling the trip to Cleveland so well, for bothering to make the effort that all those interactions took, for rising to the challenge, for learning how to do the best you can in such circumstances and for sharing it with us. An inspiration for introverts everywhere! LOL

Sydney, Australia

Anonymous said...

I knew you'd do well in Cleveland. Sorry to hear about your friend. You're right, visit her as much as you can, feed her, make her laugh, remind her how important she is to you and your family. Have a great weekend! Mary

Kate said...

Hugs. You are a very good friend to her. That's about the most valuable thing each of us have - good friends.

Rebecca Grace said...

No words, just love. 💔

Dot Wankat said...

You gave Linda such a gift - two hours of good food, life, and laughter. Besides the pleasure of your company, you gave her a little vacation from the daunting business of dying. That is priceless.

Churn Dash said...

I've been listening to a radio station out of Melbourne (Australia). There is an advert for scaffolding that is so risqué it astounds me that it can be aired. I will think of Linda every time I listen to it.