Friday, July 15, 2011

Top Ten: The Pendulum Swings On. . .

The happy side: My med students at my house last week. Love having them there.

"You can't do it like that
Love will show you where it's at
What you put up you'll surely get back
'cause there's no other way
if you play you'll pay

Back and forth . . . . "

~ Cameo's "Back and Forth"

Left and right. Right and left. The pendulum of life continues to swing. The "ugly cry" on one end, the "Snoopy dance" on the other. . . . .all existing in a continuum. . . fluid like waves but less predictable.

So like surfers on waves, you do your best to just go with the flow. You grab your board and you boogie. It's all you can do. . . . . .

Here are ten things that happened this week in the swinging pendulum of joy, pain, sunshine and rain in my life.

Back. . . .and forth. . . .back. . . and forth. . . .


#10 - Date Night.

Harry was out of town last week. He spent good and quality time with his mother, and I stayed here.

Him plus my boys being away was novel for like one day, but got old real quick. When he got home, he sent me a text that said, "I'M BACK IN THE ATL, BABY!" I was in the middle of my work day and it made me so happy. The minute I got home, I hugged him tight and told him how much I love him. Then we got some fish tacos from La Fonda and drank the remaining half of a bottle of cheap Riesling in the refrigerator. After that we cracked jokes on each other and ate pumpkin seeds on the couch, followed by both of us promptly falling asleep on the $2.99 budget list pay-per-view movie.

My kind of date.

#9 - Stolen.

There was this stunning girl I knew in college with the purest, greenest eyes I have ever seen on a real person. Her eyes were piercing against a creamy olive complexion--kind of like that Afghan girl on that famous National Geographic cover from back in the day. In addition to those green eyes (that left others green with envy), she had a mane full of dark, shiny curls--and this was before all those hair weaves became mainstream. . . . .

We weren't close friends, but at our small college--by definition--everyone was considered your "friend" if they were there while you were there. She and I finished high school and started the same year. Later we pledged "rival" sororities--she became an AKA and I pledged Delta. But honestly? At Tuskegee those rivalries were light like whipped cream because regardless of the letters on our t-shirts we were all like family. That's just how folks roll at Tuskegee.

I saw her last month for the first time in ages. She had cut her signature long and naturally curly locks into a bold and spunky bob. I barely recognized her at first--but the minute she cast those green eyes in my direction, I knew exactly who she was. "Hey girl!" we greeted each other in unison. Then we laughed and hugged and caught up.

"How many kids do you have?"

"I have two, too!"

We meant to exchange numbers, but never got around to it.

Early this week, she lost her life in a murder-suicide. Right here in Atlanta. Not even five miles away from where I saw her that last time. Her husband was ill and depressed and obviously in a very, very dark place. Ill and depressed. Yes, this is what I tell myself when it comes to things like that. To leave your children motherless and fatherless, you have to be in a very scary, dark, ill place. Fortunately, her kids were okay because he took them to a safe place first. Then he did it. The unthinkable. Just like that.

I was not her close friend, but I knew her enough to be sad. And I am sad. Sad for her family. I'm sad about her mother and her father having to bury their own child and sad that they have to imagine their baby girl with fear in her eyes in her last moments. I'm sad that they will probably have to find words to explain something to their grandkids that is lose-lose no matter how it's spun, and for the crippling anger and grief they must be feeling. I am sad for her husband's parents and sad for the aftermath that things like this can bring. Most of all, I'm sad for her children--one whose face and haunting eyes resemble hers so much it's eerie. And the other who is so young that she may struggle with remembering the fine details for herself.

Yeah, I'm sad because I knew her and hugged her tight and genuine just last month. I am her age and I showed her two kids on my iPhone that day, too and said mundane things like, "Yeah, girl, they're a handfull!" just like she did.

See, all of this is lose-lose. Too much to reconcile and try to get your mind around. Too too much of the pendulum swinging the wrong way.


When I saw her that day in June, she looked peaceful and fresh and beautiful and happy. I hope this is her legacy. I do.

#8 -- Me and Free-Free.

My friend and former Grady doctor Frieda J. was a resident when I joined the faculty back in 2001. The following year, she was chief resident at Grady and spent a few more years on the faculty. We became fast friends and remained as such after marriage, two pregnancies each, and her her departure to the private practice world.

I always called her "Free-Free." Mostly because she thinks it's funny, so it stuck.

On Sunday I came to visit her at her new house in Buckhead. Lovely! Even lovelier was Free-Free and how happy she was. Yes. Happy-happy, whole-whole, and free-free. We escaped to a nearby Thai fusion restaurant for dinner and drinks and laughs. We caught up on all of the things that girlfriends catch up on and it was wonderful.

It really was.

#7 -- Broken.

What do you do when your heart says "yes, please" and someone alerts you that their heart is now saying "no, thank you?" What if that person initially said "yes" in front of every single person you care for, but mostly in front of you and God, but now after all that their heart is saying "no?"

Okay. . . maybe not even "no". . . maybe just "I'm not sure." What do you do when there are other someone's involved and affected by that decision? What if more of your life has been spent with your heart saying "yes" to this person than not, and just what if you have no idea how to redefine your every day since this is really all you've known since forever?

I don't know the answer to those questions. My friends who are dealing with those questions don't have good answers either. . . . other than this:

You just wake up and you take a shower and you slug it out. You remember the little people who are innocent in the confusion and slug it out harder. And if it's your thing to pray, you do that, too. You talk to friends who you trust who hug you and listen without judging and who hold your hand and wish you weren't going through it. Then you wake up and do it again.

These women are resilient like women can be. But human still, with hearts that can break if not handled with care. Broken hearts suck. Broken people and broken lives suck more.

#6 -- Of Mice and (Wo)men.

What did I do?

I pulled into my driveway on Wednesday around 8:25 AM after coming back from the Fox studio. Harry was in Cleveland on vacation still and was likely fast asleep. But see, when I pull in my driveway I see what looked like a mouse. No, I said a MOUSE. Some kind of field mouse or whatever, but a MOUSE no less, and it was all shivering and sickly-looking.

Awww HELL naww.

You KNOW what I did. Claro que si! I called the BHE and woke him up. In Cleveland. (Clearly, there was plenty he could do from Cleveland, Ohio about a field mouse in Atlanta. Clearly.)

Me: "Babe!"

BHE: "Ummm hmmm" (groggy, froggy voice.)

Me: "Babe! There's a sick looking mouse in our driveway by the bushes."

BHE: "And?"

Me: "What should I do???"

BHE: "Nothing."

Me: "But what if it goes into our garage?"

BHE: "Have you seen a mouse in the garage before?"

Me: "No. But he could crawl into the garage."

BHE: "I thought he was sickly."

Me: "What if he has rabies and attacks me?"

BHE: "A rabid field mouse?"

Me: "It's a mammal! Should I call the pest control? To get him?"

BHE: "To get a field mouse sitting next to a field in our driveway? Outside? No, baby. No, you should not."

Me: "But what if he gets in the house?"

BHE: "Do you think he's going to climb TWELVE stairs to get in the house from the garage?"

Me: "He might. You never know. Especially if he has rabies."

BHE: *snoring*

Me: "BABE!!!"

BHE: "What, what, what."

Me: "You aren't worried about him ATTACKING me? ATTACKING your WIFE?"

BHE: "No, I'm not worried about a sickly FIELD mouse hanging out near a big-ass FIELD in your driveway attacking you. No, I am not. Not at 8:20 in the morning while I'm all the way in Cleveland."

Me: "Babe? Oh shoot! I think he hobbled somewhere. . .should I--"

BHE: "Goodbye, crazy girl . . . "

And that was the end of that. If something happens to me, y'all know who did it. I'm just sayin'.

#5 -- C.J.

I thought of him a lot this week. A lot.

#4 -- Beaches.

I looked at this over and over again. My kids are having such a wonderful time with their grandfather. And I am missing them terribly but loving the idea of them doing things like this.

They were at the beach for more than five hours that day. That makes me so happy because there aren't beaches in Atlanta. Or their PaPa.

#3 -- "Music makes the people. . . come together." ~ Madonna

Remember my patient that I used to download music to play for her on my iPhone on rounds? Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke? My friend and fellow Grady doctor, Shelly-Ann F. sent me an email to let me know that she had peacefully slipped away in hospice the other day.

Yesterday I listened to Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole quietly in my office and wept. I let my mascara run into ugly raccoon swirls and sighed hard and heard each word and each melody. I listened hard for her and felt thankful that this was a piece of unrelated yet important information that I learned about her while caring for her. Then I wiped my eyes and smiled because I realized that when I listened like that I could see her face. Oh, her face! She was in such awe of how that little device could grab her favorite songs straight out of thin air and two minutes later play it for her just like magic.

Those moments of sharing that music with her were magic. . . .and caring for her felt magical, too. Yes, it did.

#2 -- Baby love.

If you don't feel madly in love with him, you are not normal.

Jackson is my godson and he was born on the day after Christmas. Whenever my best friend brings him over, I steal him for the whole time. I see him often, but the last few times it was obvious that he knew me. He really knew me. He smiled at me and looked at me and reached for me like he knew who I was.

Seriously? Seriously.

The only thing more beautiful and perfect than him is watching Lisa mother him. She is perfect at it and even though she has always been beautiful, motherhood has cast a glow over her that is hard to explain.

I am so happy for her. And so, so happy for me that I get to be in her life and Jackson's, too.

#1 -- Going back to Cali.

It makes me sad to think of Camp Pa Pa coming to an end. Sure, there's a whole week left, but I know how much my dad and the kids are enjoying it. But especially my Poopdeck (my dad.)

Kids bring such an energy to houses, don't they? They yell and sing and stamp their feet and pull out toys and spill gooey things on tables. They play with Play-do and forget they were playing with it and cry when it turns all dry and crusty. They mess with your ice dispenser and splash too much in the tub and accidentally put banana peels in toyboxes, too. Houses come alive when kids are in them; they float like that house did on "Up" -- except the kids are the balloons.

My dad always has this look on his face that pains me when he takes us to the airport. It's like happy and sad at the same time. But mostly happy, thank goodness.

While I'm in L.A., I'll be there for my little sister, JoLai's 40th birthday party. Yay. We're ten months apart (which is a kind of a long story in itself, but one that I'm glad exists.) I am delighted that I get to see her and celebrate with her because she is some kind of wonderful.

I think Zachy looks like Auntie JoLai, don't you?

No offense to any other person that I know or love, but seriously? She could quite possibly be one of the very best people I know. There is not a more selfless person. There is not a more fun, hip, cool, easygoing, non-quirky, loyal and giving person, either. Plus, she loves everyone--so much so that I call her "the friend hoarder"--because like those folks on those shows, she doesn't get rid of anyone. Even the oldest friends stay neatly stacked all over her heart--while she keeps bringing new ones home. (That's a whole post in itself. . . . ha ha ha. . . .)

But for real, y'all.You know what? Anyone reading this who knows her is nodding their head right this second because it's true. JoLai is the friend/sister/daughter/granddaughter/auntie you wish every person could have. Really. The kind of person that if you didn't have her in your life, you'd wish you did.

Harry and I have this joke about JoLai--

"If anybody falls out with JoLai or has some kind of problem with JoLai, then BY DEFINITION they are AUTOMATICALLY the problem."

Harry even goes so far to say that he doesn't want anything to do with anyone who has some kind of beef with JoLai. I think the exact words he used to describe such a person were "automatic a--hole."


The good news is that, with very few oddball exceptions, no one fits that description.


So that's it. That's my week. Ten swings of the pendulum. The ups, the downs, the laughs, the smiles, the tears, the stillness. . . . .

All a part of the continuum. . . .the back and forth of love and life.

Back. . . . .and forth. . . . .back. . . . .and forth. . . . . . .

Happy Friday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . "Love has no guarantees. . . it always seems to be. . back and forth."


  1. Love the post, and so sorry to hear about your friend. I have posted some advice for you to share with your children someday ...(or not)

    straight from Appalachia!

  2. Another lovely top 10!
    (And I totally want to nibble that baby.)
    Hope I get to look at you soon!

  3. Even though I just started reading your blog, I feel like I am getting to know you. I am so sorry about your friend.

    I remember watching the story on the news and feeling so sorry for those babies because in an instant, they are parentless.

    Like you, I am a Delta, pledged at a HBCU and lives in Atlanta.

    You are so right, your emotions were swinging from one spectrum to another.

  4. You're right about JoLai. But you're pretty wonderful too...

    And P.S. I want to eat Jackson alive! With crackers!!

  5. Based on what you have written about her, I think I would love to have a sister like your JoLai, and I am SURE I would love love love to have a sister like you.

    That little baby! Looking at him makes me want him (or anther one like him) all to myself again to hug and kiss all day, which would not work out too well with my current schedule. I suddenly missed my baby children - their sweet baby faces and toothless grins are gone, their babyhoods never to be repeated again, and that made me a bit sad.

    For your friend whose life was cut so tragically short - I wish with all my heart that the grandparents on both sides will be able to overcome their anguish and work together to give those babies the best possible life.

  6. well-written. you sure have some writing talent :o)

  7. So many things to say about this post. I read about the death of your friend in the news, and I was extremely unsettled, so I can only imagine how you must feel. Such an absolutely tragic loss for her beautiful children and family.

    On a lighter note, while I was reading this post, my 4 year old saw the picture with you and your sons, and asked, "Is that me?"--referring to Zach. I laughed and said no. Then he asked, "Well is it my twin?" LOL, I'll have to send you a pic so you can see for yourself, but the resemblance is there.

    I love this blog--I've uncharacteristically missed some days, but now I love that I can catch up with more than one post at a time!!!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

Related Posts with Thumbnails