I’ll Tell Them

And you can tell everybody, this is your song…

I went to see the Sex and the City movie the other night with my dearest friend and after the movie we strolled a bit in the electrically charged night air of Chicago. This was our city F and me; it was our version of New York. And just like Miranda, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte, we had many great nights as well as many lonely nights there as well.

At dinner that night, F and I were talking about life, loves and of course children and she said something to me that struck me as the true meaning of friendship. She asked if anything happened to her, who would tell her children who she really was. Not the typical “she was a wonderful person” but the real true meaning of who she was. The effusive giggler, the voracious reader, the rambunctious whirling dervish, the brave daredevil, the creative and poetic night owl; the sides that most people don’t have a chance to see.

I said I would tell. I would tell her son and soon to be second baby F all about the strength that flowed from her that had the power of a raging river. That she had the ability to look pain in the eye and tell it “not now” and soldier on. I would tell them how her childhood may have formed her but never, ever defined her. How she could dance the night away but also spend nights just enjoying the quietness of her surroundings That their Mother practiced the art of forgiveness and never gave up hope. That she knew the true meaning of friendship. 

So many of us hide certain aspects of our personality and those secrets are only spilled out in the presence of that one true friend. The friend that you can tell your story to and she will keep it locked away. A friend that never turns their back on you. A friend that knows when to pull you out of your own spinning life circus and also knows when to leave you in it; knowing that she will be there to dry the tears. And a friend that will fight for you to the bitter end because that is what she is; a true friend.

To be a true friend, you must be able to hold her secrets safely for her until the time that you need to let those that loved her know the real woman. I have a wealth of knowledge tucked away about F. My memory runs long and it runs very deep. I have stories that will show her children the real woman their Mother was. The one that I love so very much and will always be there for. I have her memorized in my mind. Even down to the shape of her hands and the serenity of her hugs. So your answer F? I will keep my promise, I’ll tell them

 I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you’re in the world….


Diagnosis Number 5 : Sick Girl

I was sitting in my Rheumatologist’s waiting yet again for a diagnosis to the latest weird pain and I happened upon a book from Amy Silverstein called Sick Girl and it spoke volumes to me for I too am a Sick Girl. Now beleaguered with diagnosis number 5, I am struggling with how this is affecting my life.

My life for the past 12 years has been a painful journey into discovering strength in myself as well as garnering the ability to steel myself against the inevitable withdrawal of support from a friend.

In Sick Girl, the author spoke of friends drifting away and the excuses were text book standards such as “I can’t stand seeing you this way” to just drifting out of a Sick Girls’s life. First come the non-answered phone messages to lack of emails to finally no contact at all.

So why do friends that at one time were chatting us up at the latest hotspot to being non-existent in your life? I can only assume that the reason is fear of their own mortality. I see that in some friends faces, I am a mirror to what could happen to them.

Because of this I find myself becoming cold to some people. I have stopped letting people into my life because I do not want to eventually see them go. I hate discussing my illnesses. I cringe at the pity in their sympathetic head nods and sometimes I feel like a fool because I just can’t do all the fun stuff anymore.

It is a fact in my life that because of my illnesses I tend to isolate myself because I do not want the pity. I do not want to see the fear in people’s eyes. And I certainly do not want the question “But how can you be sick? You look so normal” I also do not want to hear statements such as “Your medication is making you wacky.”

But am I a equally guilty participant in this mass exodus of friends? Of course I am. I struggle so hard to not appear sick. I want my circle of friends to think I can accomplish anything. But most of all, I want to not let my illnesses to overtake my life. But it does at times overwhelm me then I hide away and at times push people away.

Even tonight as I write, I wonder who is next to leave my life. I can only add some words of wisdom from a Sick Girl. Friend,I am really trying to hold myself together so please don’t leave this Sick Girl in your life. The struggle to appear normal is a daily achievement for me, I just do not want my illness to be center stage.

Do I sound defeated? Maybe but I am not. Do I dismiss those that care too easily? I know that you care but I do not want illness to define me. I want to let you know that just because I am a sick girl and I take 15 meds daily and I get tired easily, I want to hear about your life. Your friendship allows me to take a break from myself.

Please Stay.

To Serve

She is tired now picking her black kick pleat skirt off the floor of her bedroom while gazing at a bed she seems to use no more than 4 hours a night. Tucking her white men’s shirt into the waist of her panty hose that has seen too many days and too many soup spills while slipping the noose of her daffy duck embellished tie around her aching neck, she is ready.

She is tense wrapping the too big white expanse of heavy linen around her waist where the hem causes a contrast between the black skirt skimming her thighs and the rounded knobs of her creaking knees. She shoves a plastic leather ticket book into the deep pocket that she hopes will bear the fruit of her nightly torture. She scrounges in her fake leopard purse that has seen too many days and constantly smells of the grease of where it hides beneath an ancient and decrepit shove-it-all table that is tattooed with cigarette burns of many a weary soul. She finds the two pens that will be guarded over as if a pit bull has invaded her soul.

She winks at the small figure of maleness who stares from his perch of overturned milk crates at the scraping and slicing of the prep from hell. She knows that all too soon this little person will soon venture out to make his own hell but for the moment she indulges his hero worship of a monster in checks that can terrorize and beat down the strongest. She warns him of the evil one from the front of the house. The commandant of the kitchen promises he will teach.

She plates the never ending supply of ready to go grasses and ferns. Over and over she plunges her pained hands into the icy depths that contain the work of the prep-devil. Her freezing fingertips scream with two more trays to go. She gasps moving the cart that makes moving a leather couch a breeze to roll it into its place of honor awaiting the grabbing hands that will drown its occupant in creamy decadence.

She sighs as she scurries to bread the quadruple sats at the never-ending fourtops. She moves with the speed of a cougar and wrestles the stacked baskets of calm-em-down delectables with the hard and icy grease that the perps of her pain will spread on their crusty morsels.

She passes the smirking head of his kingdom knowing that he sat 16 at her charge to test her and to punish her for her audacity to ask for a night away. Ticket after ticket will spit towards the commandant in checks. Order up will taunt her for the next six hours. Artfully arranging the hot and scalding plates that continuously scar her hands, she hoists the circular burden and raises her leg to kick at the offensive swinging door leading her to perps of their own personal pleasure. A smile claws at her jaws while she nods and hustles.

She bears the brunt of all that is wrong this night of hard knocks. She smiles, she entertains, she fakes it, all the while the slurping mandibles clack around her. Her mind tabulates the insult of the 5% that is deigned to her from the perp that entertained himself while rolling his nicotined stained fingertip along her ass all while complaining that she was not fast enough, not happy enough, not good enough to be in his presence other than to serve.

Her head bows while the steam rolls across her cheeks and stings her teary eyes. She receives a smile, a nod, a moment of recognition as a fellow soldier in this nightly battle of routines. She knows that the screams and shouts, the commandant orders and broken crockery will result in the one joy of the night.

She drags on that joy. A long inhale of the first cigarette of the night, while sitting on the oil coated back stoop with the one in checks , who takes long tokes on his own form of relaxation, he who yelled the loudest but is teaching her son all he knows. She relishes in the fact that all is well. And that she forgot to eat.

She is tired now. She pats the full pocket that is to be transferred into the expense envelopes of her life. She picks up the sleeping sweaty figure that did not take his eyes off the commandant in checks and walks to her car. See you tomorrow – we’ll do it all over again.

She is weary because she knows its true.

* * * * * *

I worked as a waitress for many years while holding down other jobs. My son Steve was the little figure and he hid in the corner of the restaurant where I worked. He idolized the chef and Peter was very kind to him. Now he is a chef as well.

Being a waitress is one of the hardest and sometimes most emotionally demanding job. Be kind to your server.