Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Things I Know by Heart

What really lies in a name, anyhow? How insulted would you be if someone forgot your name, but could remember everything about you that really mattered to them over a lifetime?

My friend, Jim, is a fighter...beyond any type of fighting I've ever known in my life, that's for sure. He's fighting fighting four brain tumors that are trying to rob him of the many things he's known all his life. Names are a problem.

But.

Jimmy? Knows so much in his heart, he actually doesn't need names to pick out his friends in a crowd. I've seen Jimmy twice in the past two weeks. He's been out and about, fighting to keep up with the world.

First, we all went out to dinner, and his wife sent him with a picture of all the guys. He showed it to us all and said, "See this horseshit? This is what it's come to..." Superimposed over each of the guys' tee-shirt was each of their names. But Jimmy was laughing as he showed it to us, still proving that he can rise above it all. A couple of times I heard him refer to my husband and one of his other good friends as "my man," which really cracked him up, and of course, cracked us up too. Laughter is good medicine. It's the stuff that our circle thrives on.

The second time, we went to see James Taylor and Carole King in concert. We met in a parking lot and drove up together, Jim and his wife in one car and all of us in two other cars. When we approached the car, we could see the look of terror in his eyes. He was overwhelmed. We immediately backed off. But once we got to Tanglewood, and the music began to play? I watched Jimmy transformed back into his old silly self. He sat back in the chair, a wicker rocker, and just let the music take him away...to a place where names and memories just drift along in midair. Music is a healer too. It allows a spaciousness and a freedom...a place to rise above it all.

The music that evening gave us all a certain sense of hope and self-forgetting. It reminded us that our friend Jim has the heart of a lion...and an army of friends that would do anything on earth to bring him to the other side of this nightmarish disease that eats at his brain each day. Jimmy tells me all the time, "Don't give me anymore of that Mets shit, or I'll kick your..." But I'm forever reminding him that it is I who'll kick his scrawny butt. Right now, however, I'm hoping he can keep up all this fighting, scratching and clawing...staying in the now. Because it is precisely in the "now" that a miracle could actually occur!

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