Sunday, July 21, 2013


It’s been a really good week, relatively speaking.  A good week (before June 28) might have meant that I made my quarterly quota,  planned a vacation, spent way too much money at the greenhouse buying flowers,  the kids called for no reason except to say they love us,  and Jeff and I watched a Breaking Bad marathon while eating popcorn in bed.  It’s different now.  Everything is different now.
The week started with a beautiful sunflower arrangement from my friend Liz.  Then, a miraculous story from a very faithful retailer who was told she had breast cancer.  She met with a surgeon and was preparing for surgery.  They performed another ultrasound and saw that the tumor was gone! Now THESE are the stories I want to hear!  I walked in another store and couldn’t find anyone at the counter.  When I heard laughter coming from the back room,  I tiptoed to the break room expecting to interrupt an employee meeting.  When I walked in, I saw five employees congregated around a computer screen.   I said, “What’s so funny?”  They swiveled it around so I could see MY BLOG!  Oh man, I felt like a rock star!  Another retailer that week shared the story of his father and his battle with breast cancer.  He, thank God, is doing well.  He said he really enjoys the personal stories in  “Keeping You Abreast”, especially the one about the gum in the urinal!  I was really surprised to see that this macho 30-ish year-old military man was interested in my blog.
The blessings continued to flow throughout the week.  I received countless messages of love, prayers, and well wishes before my Pet Scan.  One of my Facebook friends happens to be one of my best lottery customers.   This man, a former helicopter pilot in Vietnam, who is battling cancer himself, sent me a message that made my day…”If I could make it through those enemy tracer bullets trying to kill in Nam, you can make it through this.”  I’ve decided to take every positive message, quote, e-mail, and card I receive and laminate it.  I’m going to make a huge collage to help me through the rough times ahead. 
We had a lovely dinner one night with our new-found friends that Jeff and I recently met in Savannah.  They gave me a beautiful cookbook and I prepared the best dish I'd cooked in years!
I came home from the Pet Scan in Lexington and found a doll left by my co-worker Jamie, who’s been taking care of Buddy while we’re gone.  She said her daughter Rheagan wanted to give it to me because she thought it would make me feel better.
I never imagined in my wildest dreams that a great week would mean that I’d find out that my course of treatment is surgery, a “dense dose” of chemotherapy, followed with weeks of daily radiation.  It’s all relative, I guess.
The week ended with a phone call from my friend Sylvia.  We’ve been friends since we were in 3rd grade.  I thought about the days we hung out at Turfland Mall, thumbing through albums at Variety Records and eating tapioca pudding at Walgreens Restaurant.  I smile when I remember her coming over my house with a bag from Variety.  She said, “You HAVE to hear this new song!”  We were around 12 years old when she removed the sleeve off the green Elektra 45.  I remember the butterfly on the label and saying, “Bohemian Rhapsody?  Queen?  Never heard of them.”  We spent the rest of the day playing it over and over on my Fisher Price record player. We had to learn every word.  I flash back to our hours spent at Champs skating rink. I’m sure if you were to compute all the hours we spent there, it would add up to months, maybe even years.  I thought of her picking me up for school every day in her ’79 Camaro.  She would have my favorite song, “Just Once”, by James Ingram, queued on the cassette and ready for me when I opened the door.  I cringed when I recall the time we told our parents we were spending the night with each other and decided to take a cab (at age 12) to the Commonwealth Stadium to watch the fireworks on July 4th.   We stayed up all night laughing in the church playground behind her house.  The spring breaks, the boyfriends, the tears, the break-ups, the period of time I abandoned our friendship because of a boy, and her willingness to forgive me when said boyfriend was out of the picture, her being my maid of honor, me being her matron of honor, baby showers and birthday parties.  We skipped school in high school and took all of our classes together for the first two years of college.  But one of my fondest memories is…stuffed grape leaves.  Sylvia’s parents are Jordanian, but Sylvia and her sisters were born here.  Their house was like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, only on steroids.  Her parents spoke half English and half Arabic…all in the same sentence.  The house always smelled of middle-eastern spices, and many times…stuffed grape leaves…specifically HER stuffed grape favorite dish ever.  I’ve always wanted to find out her special recipe, but she, like many amazing cooks, has no recipe. She just “eyeballs it”.   This phone call from Sylvia a few days ago, was an invitation to meet at her mom’s house so we could make a batch together and LEARN THE RECIPE!   

Sylvia and her beautiful daughter Olivia drove three hours on Sunday to meet at her parents’ house in Lexington.  It was a fabulous day.  She taught us how to make and roll the grape leaves, and fed us more delicious middle eastern dishes. Her daughter serenaded me with “You Raise Me Up” in her pitch perfect soprano voice.  I went home with a full belly and a full heart.  For the first day in 23 days, I haven’t cried.     
Sylvia (right) & me.  Lafayette High School graduation -1982
3rd grade class photo.  Sylvia is the cute one in the pigtails on the left.  I'm the one on the far right in the back with the weird Beatles 'do.

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