Injuries of the Heart

He sat next to the judge in the witness chair. Of medium height and build with a clean shaven head, he recalled the night in the hospital where he lost his dad, role model, grandfather to his newborn son and best friend. In the small courtroom he spoke directly to the jury about the fear and apprehension the night his father was admitted to the ICU. He talked about the pain his father experienced just before his eyes rolled up in his head. He recounted running into the hallway, desperate, yelling for a nurse, for anyone to come to his father’s aid. He described the profound loss, the hole left in his family’s life after his father arrested and died that night, five years ago. I was sitting 15 feet away, almost directly in front of and facing this gentleman. Because the hospital and I were on trial for the wrongful death of his dad.  Read more

Sunrise

What do you do when you know someone is going to die? I’m not talking about death when it comes at the end of a long protracted illness or a terminal diagnosis. Or the final act at the end of a “good” life, when the body and mind have ultimately given way. I’m talking about when you realize the twenty-five-year-old woman in front of you, who you met five minutes ago, has no idea she will not survive to see another sunrise.

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Walk with me…

Walk with me, why don’t you? It’s about time, don’t you think? We have been avoiding this for quite a while. But it is best to bring this out from the shadows and into the light. Let’s take a walk… Thru a part of my day. But be careful. You won’t like what you see. I don’t like this path very much. It’s why I have not looked lately. I just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other. Don’t stop. Can’t stop. Movement keeps things blurry. And blurry is less defined. And less defined is fuzzy. And who gets hurt by fuzzy? Fuzzy is soft and safe. Fuzzy can’t hurt. Fuzzy can’t reach into my heart and soul and hurt me from the inside out.

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Friends

“Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.”–Richard Bach

It’s has been a bit since I last wrote, but events over the last few days have pulled me back tonight and has compelled me to write and try to focus some of my thoughts.

Life has been busy. Despite the lack of sunlight, the absence of heat, two polar vortex(es?) and an abundance of snow  here in the midwest, time seems to be flying by. Mornings filled with workouts, days at the hospital packed with endless patient after patient, and evenings racing the kids  to dance practice and swim meets, helping with homework and final exams.  The days turn to weeks and weeks into months and in a blink of an eye half a year has gone by.  And that phone call to reach out and reconnect with a friend,  put off till “tomorrow”, all too easily extends into the unknown.

And then certain events happen that can literally take your breath away.  Facebook for me has become somewhat of a love / hate relationship. I do love following my friends from high school and college and watching their children grow photo by photo. But I hate how it has taken the pressure away from actually reaching out to hear their voices. Virtually connecting with people has taken the place of literally reaching out and “touch” someone via phone as the old AT&T commercials used to say.

3 days ago on Facebook I read that one of my dearest friends from college, Liza,  got married.  I saw the change in her status posted on my “feed”.   My breath taken away,  I found myself grinning from ear to ear.  Recently engaged, the wedding was actually a bit of a surprise.  I find I’m kicking myself for not having called earlier and am now behind on both congratulating her for both an engagement and wedding to boot!  But my frustration at my slow response, is overwhelmed by my elation for my friend.

Tonight, I found myself again breathless as I read about the death of the father of another close college friend, Dan.   It appears he was battling cancer and passed away yesterday.  Mixed in with my sadness for my friend and his family was frustration at myself for not even knowing his father had been ill for several months.  I have failed to reach out even since his daughter was born almost 6 months ago.

In the fall of 1988 as a Freshman, I moved into the Statesider at the University of Wisconsin. And there by luck, change or  good fortune, I was forced to live (or more accurate,  people were forced to live with me!) on the fourth floor.  Many of these poor saps would go on to be some of the most important and profound people in my life.   I do truly believe Richard Bach’s quote written above.  And feel so blessed that so many of the friends made that first year still matter today.  I remember sobbing in Liza’s arms the night of college graduation, physically overwhelmed by the uncertainty of my future.  And I remember quite a few late nights over the years with Dan,  wrestling with the weight of our worlds over many bottles of Chimay Ale. Although its been over a year and a half since I  met Liza for breakfast in the city, and close to the same time since Dan and I saw Springsteen at Wrigley Field, our friendships are as meaningful now as they were 20 years ago.

So it is with my heart  literally  mixed with joy for my newly married friend Liza and what must have been a whirlwind year, and sadness for my friend Dan over his loss and the difficulties faced these past few months, that I start to write again. In part to deal  with some of the guilt I feel over not having reached out to them (and a handful of other close college friends). But to write about  the strange comfort that fills within me that their change in fortune (both good and bad) still has a powerful effect on me.  That despite college ending and us moving across the US more than 20 years ago, what happens to my friends still has sincere meaning, and can still take my breath away.

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