Two years later, you contract bacterial meningitis and are left very damaged.
Awakening from your coma, you find your world is now silent, your vision is lousy, and your balance is shot. You ask us at your bedside to speak louder. We, at first, have no idea that your hearing is gone.
You are a people person; this loss will be the toughest.
You lose your job, your independence, some of your dignity.
You can’t drive.
You have other physical problems that we will not mention here because you are a lady.
The cancer you had before the meningitis seems tame.
Never mind the fat lymphedema leg and your vitiligo.
For most of us, just one of these maladies is enough to shake hope and dampen joy.
But you!!!! You!!!!!
As I drove you back to Sacramento today and took a sideways glance at your jumbo black sunglasses, the extra-large print book, and your thin hands with broken nails and blue veins, I slipped into my usual sadness when faced with your struggles. My mood darkened like the Sierra storm coming our way.
Funny. You weren’t at all in that mood.
Cheri, I am sorry, dear, but we need to stop. Now please. Exit as soon as you can.
I veer to the right and we make it just in time.
We leave Starbucks, like two drunks, she holding on to my hand and elbow like a small child who hasn’t learned to walk.
Can I buy you a mocha?
Aren’t we lucky I have a handicapped parking sticker? Pretty funny, considering I can’t drive!
Next time I see you Cheri, I will be a new woman. My epidural shot is Monday and when my leg feels better, I am going back to the gym. My personal trainer is so cute. I wish I were 40 years younger. Of course, I miss your dad, but life is for the living.
Life is for the living. Then why do I feel so sad about her circumstances?
I consider her life, as the rain pounds my windshield in the flat country that is the Central Valley.
She goes back to reading her book.
Cheri, I can’t believe how much I learn in these books! Thank God that those sweet librarians select such meaningful books and mail them to me.
She has plans even though life is getting more difficult.
We pull up to Panera Bread.
Can I treat you to lunch?
I am adding this YouTube video of Joan boxing. Remember, she has no balance.
Photo by Rob Mezzetti 2008 Dinner in the Napa Valley