I pulled up to the house and noticed that the old blue pick up was parked outside. That thing hasn't been running for about 3 months. Jim and Howie started working on it over the weekend and got it going Tuesday night.
I walked in and was greeted with "did you see the truck is outside? I am gonna drive it to school tomorrow." A chill of fear ran up and down my spine...
Howie turned 16 last Saturday and we had the first appointment at the DMV on Monday morning. Needless to say, the kid passed and now is a licensed driver.
"Drive me to Safeway" I told him, "we need milk". Off we went, with him working the clutch and the shift. I needed to make sure he could turn onto the highway and shift into traffic smoothly...or he wasn't driving. He did fine.
Earlier in the day, Jim and I went to a funeral. This one wasn't one of my patients or even someones parent. This funeral was for the wife of Jim's buddy. She was 52, got diagnosed shortly before Thanksgiving and passed away a week or so later. She was going along, living and doing her thing and began to have some medical issues. She went to the doctor and they told her it wasn't anything, gave her some pills and sent her on her way. She was a healthy 52 year old, ya know? By the time they got a diagnosis, she had cancer everywhere..."terminal" was the word Jim's buddy used.
We walked into the mortuary and saw him sitting alone, with his head in his hands. I walked over to say hello, and he moved over and wanted us with him during the service. I patted his back through most of it, handed him kleenex and thought, "This guy needs a drink." He kept asking me when he was going to wake up from this nightmare and then shaking his head and saying, "I just don't even believe it."
The reception was at the Elks club and it was pretty nice. Good food, waitresses coming around asking if you wanted a drink and a lot of people. I am sure the celebration, which is what we call these things now, went on long after Jim and I left. We still had Howie to pick up and work to get back to.
Jim was reflective after the service. He was thinking about being 50 and how some of his coworkers had died recently, one from a brain tumor, another a heart attack and then today. He was going into his "life is short and live every day speech" when I tuned him out.
I had one more thing to do on Tuesday and I was dreading it. I needed to stop by a family member's house of a patient I just lost. This patient reminded me of my mother and she was very special to me. I felt as though she slipped away peacefully but I always worry that the family had experienced a different reality. I knocked on the door and the dogs barked and I gathered her daughter up into my arms...I felt very close to her too. Two hours later, I left that house thankful and energized about how much comfort she felt in her mother's life and death. She was doing ok for what she had been through.
Howie and I turned out of the Safeway with the milk in the truck. He backed out of the parking spot and gave me a little whip lash but hey...whatever. When we got on to the highway, I mentioned how his father and I were pretty lucky. I talked about his siblings at college and how good they are doing, how we have what we need and how we have our health. He replied, "you know Mom, we are pretty lucky. Look at me, I have this nice old truck, all cleaned up, this air freshener on the mirror that smells like pine and this lucky rabbit's foot (from a real rabbit on a camping trip) and a parking pass to drive to school. I ask you, what else could a 16 year old boy like me want?"
I sat in the passenger seat and smiled. Life is so freakin' hard at times, so sad and there are days that nothing goes right. There are also days that things are so good, you never want the day to end. Seems to me lately, the good days are few and far between.
But then I thought about that day...was it a good day or a bad day? Certainly it was a bad day for Jim's buddy...there is no getting around those kind of days. But for us, for me...it was a good day. I went to that funeral and offered all the support I could give this guy and we plan on doing that for years to come. That's what friends do. A visit with a bereaved daughter, lost her dear mother, comforted and laughing about how things went and how we got her to the place that she was okay with leaving. That was so good. To sit in the recliner and discover that her daughter is not only a client but could very well be my friend. And the end of the night, in the truck with my precious, sulking, quiet, sometimes crabby 16 year old, hearing what he thinks and knowing that for him, an old truck, a rabbits foot and pine scent hanging from the mirror...along with a good dose of freedom makes him happy.
Yes, it was a hard day but a good one.
As my college boy says...YOLO...you only live once...and he is right. So live...
We'll tawk tomorrow,
]I love you all,