Well, I should have
It’s been a long 24 months.
On this day, two years ago, blood was washing over my brain and filling my skull at a rapid pace. I had felt something like an explosion in my head and instantly felt woozy and feverish. Instead of lying down - as I am sure most men, including myself, would’ve normally done - I went to the hospital.
Burst aneurysm in the brain. Not good. If I didn’t die, I would most likely be stroked out and disabled. No more writing, no more singing, no more making music. After a long day of surgeries, I did not die, but I should have. It would be three weeks of intensive care, brain surgeries, struggles, setbacks, crushing physical pain and bittersweet heartache before I would sleep in my own bed again.
In these last two years that followed, I’ve battled like a motherfucker to recover fully. It started with a long hallway where I would walk every day despite my headaches, careful to hold my water alternatively with both hands to improve my motor skills. In that hallway, I would tilt my head up and look side to side, hoping for the day that I did not feel as if I would fall. It would continue with intensive vocal and speech training, the same program I devised for my Mom when she was recovering from a stroke. Recovery would be present in the daily journals where I corrected my handwriting and tracked my thought process. I would clean the kitchen and cook every day so that I could track how well my organization skills were returning, reinforce my memory in recipes, and check my hands by wielding a knife for prep. It was something I could do no matter how wiped out I was.
To borrow a phrase from the immortal John Cleese in Monty Python and the Holy Grail…
Two more brain surgeries and multiple CT scans would follow, that last was just earlier this year. With each operation, it felt like starting over. The headaches would start again, the inner tremors, the fog would return. But, I had the tools to fight it, and the support of an amazing partner.
As I sit here this morning truly celebrating life, I realize how fortunate I am. First, to be alive at all. Second, to have been able to recover fully (well, mostly, I’m still a bit crazy). But above all, I am thankful for the kind and incredible people in my life today. My amazing partner in crime. The new people in my creative and professional life who have welcomed me and cherished my contributions. The friends who have been so supportive and gone the extra mile to get closer. The incredible people who have included me in their life’s journey and gone the extra mile to make me feel welcomed.
I’ve also lost a lot. I’ve lost my mom. I’ve lost some people who’ve transitioned over. And I’ve lost some very close friends.
Well, I say “lost” but that’s not entirely true. Some of my closest friends and confidants have simply moved on from me. There are a few people I was working with closely when this all happened who have simply disappeared from my life. People I helped and shared quality time with. People with whom I was intimately involved with, building futures. People I used to talk to on a daily basis, see every month. Gone. I’ve tried many times to reconnect, to try and do my share to continue those relationships, but have been basically ghosted. Poof.
It’s something you learn when you almost die, you are not that special to a lot of people. Oh sure, there are cards in the beginning, even a few calls to make sure you’re alive. But if you take a while to recover they move on; maybe it’s just too much work to keep in touch.
It’s like my “almost death” was contagious and they didn’t want to catch it.
Now, I realize everyone has their own journey and stuff to deal with. But, damn some of my “best friends” haven’t even tried. Some of my longest friends haven’t even really seen me in the last two years. No real effort to hang out, catch up, to spend time. Some of the people I thought were my best friends and partners have canceled plans with me, stiffed me on work we were doing together after repeated attempts on my part, isolated themselves from dealings with me, and outside of the random text, basically have no part in my life. Longtime annual plans and get-togethers were suddenly canceled. When I would make new plans in an effort to do my part, those got squashed too, at the last minute. Honestly, two of my longest and best friends completely forgot my birthday this year. If not for Facebook, I’m sure there were others who would’ve too.
Not gonna lie, that hurts.
But, we move on.
Well, I move forward.
I wish them well. I know they have their reasons. I know everyone is fighting their own battles. I guess I just thought after all I have given over the years, maybe all of that would’ve secured a more special place in their lives. Nope.
And yet, there is another side to this. As those people have written me off, that has created space for the amazing people who do care. I have become very close to people I only just met a few years ago, following and helping their careers. I now have close relationships with new business partners who have no idea what I’ve been through - so I know it’s not just charity. I’ve forged closer relationships with people I knew casually before, but never got to spend time with over the years, until now. I cherish all of them. The experiences I have had over the last 2 years are because of their care, and I am lucky to share part of my life with these amazing people.
So, here’s to the real people in your life. The ones who give a damn. The ones who realize how quickly life can be snatched away. The ones who cherish your friendship and appreciate you for you. The ones who check in. The ones who share meals and smiles. The ones who want to make new memories with you. The ones who need to see you and hug you a little longer because they realize that may not have been possible ever again just a few years ago.
Damn, I love you all.