Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two Stuffed Animals On Her Hospital Bed.

"This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you."
- Hafiz.

I met her father in Encinitas last summer while vacationing with my friend Marta. We met him at a restaurant called of all thing -- When In Rome.

And he'd told me about his bright and promising daughter Angela who was a money manager in Los Angeles. When I'd told him of the great success of my theater company, he insisted that I contact his daughter.

And so I did.

And she and her husband Tony came to our One Act Festival last fall. And she was kind and lovely. And we made plans to meet for dinner. But every time we had scheduled our dinner date -- to discuss a business merger of some sort, something tragic always happened to Angela. Our first date was cancelled because she had to go to the hospital because her MS had acted up. I never knew she had MS in the first place.

The second time, her mom died.

And most recently, we both rescheduled. This was last week.

So -- this week, tonight we had planned for a dinner together. And I got a call from her husband around 4pm. I hadn't heard back from her confirming our dinner, so when he called, my heart sort of sank.

Angela was in the hospital again.

And just when I thought that another dinner would be cancelled, he invited me to the hospital for dinner. And what sort of dinner would I like?

I said thai and wondered how this would all go, considering I had never sat down with this woman before and now I would be in a hospital room with her and her husband and some thai food.

I arrived a little after 7pm and there she sat in her hospital bed, pulling her big puffy chenille blanket up around her, two stuffed animals on her hospital bed. And she explained that she had some sort of a clot in the vein in her stomach.

She had her assistant there, lovely woman and a friend named Andrew. He had given her the owl stuffed animal and her husband, the doggie.

We all talked and the TV was on mute on the background. 

They told me how they met. I regaled them with the story of my Saturday Night Live test.

And after about an hour, Angela asked me to go for a walk with her, "to be bad." We ended up leaning against the building on the cement walkway in a corner on the outside of the hospital of St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. And she had two smokes and I had half of one.

And she said she was scared this time. She felt an urgency. That she needed surgery to remove the clot within two days. And I asked her why they weren't doing it immediately. She said society has become so litigious that doctors are more afraid of the potentiality of being sued than saving a patient, in her experience.

We sat some more and she told me of how she loves her husband, what a good man he is. And of how hard this whole thing is for her father.

I looked around and thought that I had passed this hospital so many times and never did more than glance at it.

Now here I was sitting like two kids having a smoke, yet one was wearing a hospital gown and had an IV alongside her body.

We both carried purple bags.

As she reached for the second smoke, she said, "They're gonna be mad at me." "I think they'll understand," I responded.

Her stomach started really began to hurt her as we made our way back to her room, she was moaning and hunching forward a bit, and I walked alongside her.

When we got back to her room, I stayed until she was out of the bathroom and then, I gathered up my thai food, hugged her goodbye and said goodbye to her husband Tony and assistant, Suzanne.

And as I left down Santa Monica on the way to my car, I felt even more enlivened. I am SO lucky and I knew it.

I have my health and my dreams are in the palm of my hands. I have absolutely nothing standing in my way. And here is Angela -- who was talking about her own dreams and how her father never gave her a trust fund and she is so grateful because she has worked for everything she has now. And now she is fighting to be healthy. 

She is fighting to be well.

And her husband look at her with red-rimmed eyes and smiles at her. And she is strong-willed and expressive, she loves him. They are best friends.

So... I thought when I left, this is love.

This is life.

Fighting for life.

Health is wealth.

I am the richest woman I know.

And being in that hospital with Angela, I so admired her strength. The only sense I had of her vulnerability was that she kept the two stuffed animals where she could hold them and be within arm's reach.

Like a child.

Like an adult who is not afraid of what she looks like, rather she is on a mission. To be well.

And perhaps clinging to these little stuffed animals gave her peace. Every child knows this to be true. And many adults secretly do too.

And so... I am sharing this with all of you, my little blades. Because I never thought when I met her father at the swanky restaurant last summer that I would be having a smoke with his daughter on the cement terrace of her hospital.

I never thought our "business dinner" would be thai food in room across from the nurse's stand.

But I am indeed grateful.

Because Angela reminded me of my dream, of her dream, of all of our dream -- to be healthy and to be in love and to be making our impression on this great wide world.

And I am a lucky girl. 

Tonight, I pray for dear Angela. And if you are reading this, please do the same. Because the only thing that separates any of us from being in her place is the luck of the draw. She happened to have MS and health problems from a young age.

May we all be so grateful.

And pursue our dreams with the speed of an athlete, the grace of a dancer, and the perseverance of child.

I send you all love... Always.

And a special prayer for Angela and her Tony and her Daddy. May those two little stuffed animals bring her some comfort.

And all of our prayers too.

As Hafiz said, God has planned this place for us and for Angela, this place is not so cozy, it is downright terrifying, but still, we must know that there is a reason for all of this. And perhaps one of her reasons was to inspire me. That I may inspire all of you.

Tomorrow, get out and walk, treat yourself to an iced tea, tell someone you love them, forgive someone (if only in your heart), discipline yourself -- do that one thing you have been wanting to do and yet too scared to do it. LIVE. LOVE. 

As Andrew Marvel once beckoned, Time's wing'd chariot is drawing near.

Make the absolute most of our time here on this Earth. Seize the day. Because many wish, wish, wish that they could get out and run as we all can.

"Tomorrow... We will run faster, stretch our our arms farther, and one fine morning.

And for Angela's sake, make tomorrow your finest.

Love to all my little blades near and far.

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