People always say you should write about what you know. Maybe so. Lately, however my muse has been missing. For me a muse can be a person, an idea, a feeling. I’ve been stuck in a rut and fighting my way out has been a complete uphill battle. My gut tells me to write everyday, but my physical condition says, “haha” don’t even think about it”. There has been lots of things in the news of late that I could have expressed my opinion about such as the discrimination issues happening in New York lately and then there is the NFL spousal and child abuse issues, and yet again, there is the ISIS/ISIL situation. However, each one of those issues would take pages and pages of this blog and frankly, I believe my followers, though few and far, would be bored to tears. So, Muse, where are you when I need you?
The last few weeks, (I admit) have been topsy-turvy for my family. My brother, Tommy developed some major health issues and was hospitalized for two weeks. The worry about him took its toll on me and I have been filled with stress, which is only now subsiding. He is out of the woods at the moment, but will need further surgery within the next two months. Maybe for most people my attachment to my brother would seem strange (to say the least), but he is the one person who has been there with me my entire life. He is not only a terrific brother, but also a “surrogate” dad to me, and an overall wonderful person. The thought of him suffering or worse is not a thought I can allow to penetrate my mind or my heart. I am very grateful that he has come through as he has from this last episode and I am also grateful that I have the wisdom to know things could be much worse. So yes, the optimistic side of me stays positive and thankful for the little things. Unfortunately, I also have another side, that mostly stays hidden; and every once and while it rears its ugly head trying its’ damnedest to overtake me. That is why I have an inward constant uphill battle these days.
Maybe writing this today will break the ice for me and I will be able to do what my blog song says very soon, but until then, I am still here grasping at the straws being offered by the Universe. I am hoping that soon my very opinionated expressions about life will come about and my Muse will allow my fingers to fly upon the keyboard to talk about life as I see it. If not for any other reason, than to keep me sane!
And that is the The Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.
With those words came a shock of disbelief, until I heard from her sister, Roxanne who confirmed what I was afraid to face, my beloved friend Wanda passed away from a heart attack on January 30, 2014 at the age of 59.
I am still shocked and I feel her gone from this earth and the sadness overcomes me. Never again will I be able to hear her laughing at my shenanigans. Never again will I hear her childlike innocence over a secret I shared with her. It was as if I shocked her with each adventure of mine that I revealed to her. No I haven’t traveled the world or climbed any mountains, but every little thing in my life that happened and I told Wanda about it, I felt like the most well-traveled outrageous woman ever, sort of an Amelia Earhart or an Auntie Mame, and she made me feel so great! When I was troubled or worried it was Wanda who made me laugh with her and all of a sudden everything vanished and it was funny. This blog tonight isn’t about me though, it is meant to be about one of the most amazing women I have ever known.
We met when we were in our twenties. We both worked at New York Life Insurance Company in Manhattan. Never in a million years did either of us think we would wind up as bookends. She a proud African-American woman and me a Caucasian mutt (Irish, English, Scottish and French) woman. Both of us were considered middle class at this stage of our lives, but we knew poverty and were trying to overcome it. Neither of us believing we had so many things in common. We did though, the more we talked the more we knew we were extremely similar in every area, we bonded from those discoveries and we stay bonded throughout our lives. We trusted one another. We never judged one another. We shared all those intimate details without hesitation, laughing through the other’s shock at our behavior at times. We were similar to two of the “Sex and the City” girls. A bit out there, taking risks and trying almost anything at least once. I can only remember two times in over 35 years seeing or hearing Wanda cry. She didn’t cry in front of people, she tried to show toughness, but her niceness always shined through that facade.
Even though there are a dozen of antics I could reveal, I choose not to divulge them, because I know my friend wouldn’t want that and I will respect her. The two of us couldn’t help but hang out together once we realized we were almost the same person only of a different race. Our friendship grew despite the disapproval and jealousies of our other friends. It was our fault though and we knew it, but still couldn’t help just hanging out together every chance we got. We still loved our friends, we just couldn’t share all the things Wanda and I shared with one another without feeling judged. You see Wanda and I just simply accepted each other and neither of us ever judged each other or anyone else. We never talked about others and how they were or what they did. We just simply were friends. We met each other’s families and they became our family. We met each other’s boyfriends and future spouses. We went to each other’s weddings and childbirth. We suffered together through breakups, sicknesses and accomplishments.
As we grew older we stopped seeing each other, each of us involved in our own worlds of marriage and motherhood. However, we never kept out of touch. At least once a year we would talk about what was happening in our lives, we would catch up as if we saw one another yesterday. We would always remember one another’s birthday. The only regret I have is that I was one of three Godmothers to her only daughter, Shanell and I didn’t keep up with Shanell. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my circumstances through much of my life, didn’t give me the privilege of choice. However, I have always been proud of the honor Wanda bestowed on me from the moment she asked me and I still feel that honor. Wanda knew I felt this and always understood why I couldn’t demonstrate it as I wanted to, she never held it against me and always updated me about Shanell. Wanda loves Shanell and her granddaughter, Nekiia with all her heart and of this I am positive. Wanda was always Wanda. She never changed in all the years I knew her.
She was very ill the last few years, but told me recently that she had her numbers under control, except for her sugar. That was always fluctuating because, like me she was addicted to soda. In the last three years, I tapered off the soda and replaced it with bottled water because like her, I developed diabetes as well. She was on medication, I came off medication but still have fluctuating numbers. Wanda couldn’t escape her need of soda, it was just stronger than her willpower. I understood. Now she is gone from a heart attack. I don’t know what happened yet and I’m not sure what led to the attack, but it doesn’t matter. Right now the only thing that matters to me is that I live in a world now without Wanda. My Wanda the funny, bubbling, secretive, caring, genuine, magnificent Wanda. A true friend, a real friend, a best friend a woman with substance, humanity, and heart. She was brave when needed, strong when needed, subdued when needed. She had wisdom beyond her years. She had love as great as Venus and conquered whatever hate she felt long ago. If it seems as if I am exaggerating than you didn’t know her. She was a humanitarian, a wonderful loving grandmother, a loyal and trusting friend. I loved her ever since I got to know her and I love her still. How I will continue in a world without Wanda being in it is beyond my thinking. I cannot imagine it. She kept me grounded. I had no fear, no mistrust, no doubt when I was with her no matter if we were live, online or on the phone. She exuded such a positive, welcoming aura that no secret was too secretive, no wild or risky act was too risqué. She was so accepting of all of it.
She also was fiercely protective of her loved ones and would be stern when she felt it was necessary. She was stubborn and class conscience, she would let you have it if she believed she was right and you were wrong. She was just like every other mom I have ever known, taking care of her family the best way she knew how. She will be missed beyond any of these words, but I needed to write them. I wanted the world to know that Wanda left her mark. That she is still loved beyond words. The world and I lost a precious human the other day and all I hope is that she is in a place where she is pampered, protected and pain-free. Wherever she is they are lucky to have her.
Wanda I love you, I miss you and I wish you rest in a peaceful and comfortable place. You will always be my beloved, trusted friend.
I knew something was wrong, but I kept pushing myself believing that it was just a fluke and would disappear as quickly as it came. This numbness in my thighs and the constant ache in my back whenever I walked anywhere just kept getting worse. Like a sign from the Universe, one day, while at work, a bolt of lightning pain shot straight down my spine, from my neck to my tailbone and I could no longer deny it was time for my orthopedic doc to take a look! So with all the strength I could muster I phoned him, received an appointment and went to see him that very same day. Dr. Licciardi is a wonderful man and a fantastic orthopedic surgeon. He had taken care of me in the past and I felt safe and assured in his care. Rocco, my ever caring husband, picked me up early from work and we drove to the doctor. By the time I was in the examining room, the pain was so severe that all Dr. Licciardi had to do was look at my face and he instantly knew something was terribly wrong. He gave me a shot to try and ease the spasms and took some tests. Finally after a few days and all the tests results came in, I had my answer I had progressive stenosis, degenerative disc disease and a collapsed thecal sac with severe nerve damage. In other words, I was now disabled and the prognosis of this diagnoses was not very positive. To say I was shocked would be an understatement! I was actually devastated, but no one can ever tell when I feel that way, because I can mask that devastation brilliantly.
A series of “fixes” was started immediately, none of them, of course, came with any guarantees, but then neither did this body of mine. For the next three months or so, I went through cortisone metropaks, injections from pain management physicians, bed rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Trying to stand, sit or walk for a few minutes at a time was becoming an olympian challenge for me. My entire life had completely changed and I was not ready for it at all. My inner makings had aged before my years and there was nothing I could do to stop it anymore. Oh yes, surgery was mentioned to me, but the odds of either surviving them or of them lasting was so slim that it was impossible for me to consider them. Worst of all was that Dr. Licciardi, himself, didn’t perform the type of surgery that was needed and I would have to be recommended to a different doctor. I wasn’t ready for that. This Universe that we all live in was certainly having fun with me! It wasn’t enough that I had Menopause, oh no, that wasn’t enough for my Universe, now I had this debilitating disease that would prove to change the entire way I had existed for the past twenty years!
I have often thought well it could be a lot worse. I could be dying. I could have cancer or some other life threatening illness. I could be paralyzed or any other number of horrible terrible things that braver people than I are going through every single day, so in a way I always tell myself how lucky I really am and I mean it for about 5 minutes and then I say, no freaking way! This damn thing I have is as bad as some of those other diseases because my life is no longer my life! I don’t feel sorry for me, I freaking can’t stand me or my insides or whatever that has taken away my opportunity to hold down my job, to walk for any length, to sit for any amount of time, to lie down without pain, to cook, to bowl, to dance! I hate this freaking disease and I don’t want to have it.
I am so appreciative of everyone’s good thoughts and attempts at boosting my “blues” by telling me how “fortunate” I am, and at the same time, I want to scream! No one seems to get it! Everyone thinks, “aww you have a bad back” and everyone has either experienced a bad back or knows someone who has. Everyone knows someone or themselves who have had slipped discs, etc. etc….No one and I mean no one, ever realizes that I have had a “bad back” for about thirty-eight years and now it has collapsed! No one truly understands and I can live with that by not talking about my disease, by “pretending” that I am just okay with this; going on about my everyday life as if everything is honky dory and normal as can be. It’s all BS! I am not honky dory, everyday life for me is no life at all! Dr. Licciardi doesn’t know what to do for me anymore, except to keep checking me for any changes, giving me meds and being the great man that he is. He brings up one of the surgeries I would need, every now and then, but he never pushes me, knowing full well that it would last about six months, if I was one of the lucky ones, and then probably be worse than it is now! No freaking way will I put myself through that!
By now, you might be saying to yourselves, wow what a selfish bitch this woman is! She should be grateful,yadda yadda yadda!!! You are probably saying, stop feeling sorry for yourself! Yet, none of you saying that has been living my life as of late! So hell no, no matter what anyone else thinks, I am doing the very best I can under these forced circumstances! When I can find some joy in this current life of mine, I am going to take it! I am not going to complain everyday (just once in this blog)! I am lucky in one aspect, lucky that I am married to a Saint! and I mean a Saint! I have the world’s best! Rocco does everything for me now, most of the cooking; all the cleaning; most of the shopping; and thank God he still has a job that supports us and helps us get health insurance. Yes, I am bringing in some money by getting SS and some disability money so for now we can keep our heads just above the water, but sooner than later we are going to have to sell our home and try to start over somewhere, somehow. I often wonder if anyone can imagine the psychological changes that occur when an active, fun-loving woman like myself, gets hit with a life-changing event like this? Believe me it takes will power not to punch walls, or throw yourself off the nearest bridge, (if you could get there)! It takes an iron will not to scream at everyone who says, “it could be worse!” or “you are just feeling sorry for yourself!” Maybe both of those things are true, and if they are “so be it”. All I know is that I feel like the Universe has played a cruel trick on me and I am neither happy about it or so willing to be a martyr for it! I wish it didn’t happen, but the reality is that is has. So now I am taking forever to learn to make the best of it, but I will continue to try to do that for as long as I can, until this Universe decides to try something new with my life.
Whew, thanks blog for letting me get that off my chest! This is the first and last time I will speak on the subject and so that is The Way I See It.