As Gregg's back problem was getting properly diagnosed, I was invited by a friend to visit her at her family's cottage in Carmel, California. In the past, I've been away for a church retreat or a class, but have never taken a trip for myself, away from the family. Gregg and David (and my parents) were encouraging - even insistent - that I go, so I did. I had never been to Carmel, but had been told about it in glowing terms by everyone I know who has been there. My friend's grandmother used to live there, and since her passing, the family has shared her home, which is one of the lovely cottages built by M.J. Murphy; it is made of redwood, and is very cozy.
My friend, Linda, lives most of the year in Vienna, and travels all over the world. She is an opera singer, specializing in the works of Richard Wagner, and was my brother's girlfriend when they attended music conservatory together. They broke up, but she and I are still friends; I consider her my "sister-in-law-without-the-marriage-to-Jim." We lived in Boston at the same time, after graduating from college. We lost touch for years, but when she came to Seattle to sing in the opening of our new opera house (in Parsifal by Wagner), she called us, and we have been close ever since. [To learn more about her, and hear a clip of her singing, see the sidebar of this blog: Linda Watson's page]. Gregg and I traveled to L.A. to hear her sing with Placido Domingo in 2005. We share a similar sense of humor, a parallel family background, tastes, etc. I can't begin to describe for you how funny she is, but she is "a scream," as we say in my family (and hers).
Here is a photo of her with David, Katie and my mom:I flew out on Monday, and Linda picked me up at the airport in San Jose. We drove down to Carmel, and spent the next few days exploring the town, browsing, eating great food, spending time with her family, sightseeing and walking. We laughed, cried, told stories, reminisced, saw beautiful sights and talked about everything under the sun. It was a real break from everything I have been doing. I felt fortunate to be able to relax and let my mind wander, in such good company and beautiful surroundings. If the photos I took turn out, I will post them here.
Thank you, Gregg and David; Linda, for inviting me (and all of the Watsons, for sharing the cottage); Lisa and Mary for the warm welcome; Mom & Dad (for the encouragement and gift to spend). This trip was a present that I would not have given myself without the love and generosity that all of you contributed.
On the last day in Carmel, I began to feel under the weather. Once at home, it blew up into a really awful illness. I am still trying to get my strength back. Finally, I got to the clinic (driven by David with his NEW DRIVER'S PERMIT) yesterday. So I am having to be patient with being able to do very little to help around here, just trying to get my lungs clear again. I keep thinking of that line from the movie "The Devil Wears Prada:" "I'm just one stomach-flu away from my goal weight!" UGH. Gregg and David have taken up the slack and supported me. Thanks, boys; you are the greatest!
The other good news is that I sent out the big email to "throw open" the Quilt Project, and people are starting to respond. Hooray for comfort!
The bad news is that I am missing Katie so, so, so horrribly these days. It may be that we are past the 6-month mark, and some of the "numbness" they talk about is wearing off; it may be that my normal "anti-depressant," (exercise) isn't available right now, since I am so sick; it may be that we passed the one-year anniversary of her surgery (the 21st, the day I got home from CA), which was supposed to give Katie another chance to live, cancer-free; it may just be that SHE ISN'T HERE, and I HATE THAT.
Yesterday, I was remembering how I helped her bathe in the hospital. Katie had a PICC line (this is a "peripherally inserted central catheter, is a central venous catheter inserted into a vein in the arm...a long, thin, flexible tube used to give medicines, fluids, nutrients, or blood products over a long period of time, usually several weeks or more...often inserted in the arm or chest through the skin into a large vein. The catheter is threaded through this vein until it reaches a large vein near the heart"). This meant that she had to keep one arm dry; she preferred the bath to the shower, and if you've ever tried to keep one arm really dry in the tub, even if you learn to wrap it properly, you know how hard this is.
I won't go into details, because I want to protect her privacy (and I can just hear her saying strongly, "MO-OM!" as if it had two syllables), but she loved to lie in the warm water, and have her head massaged, and we would sit and chat in the windowless, airless, poorly-lit bathroom. I would give anything to be able to massage her head again, and see the little beauty mark on her scalp...except, as Gregg reminded me, I wouldn't want her to be sick anymore. But I miss taking care of her, I miss her company, I miss her soft cheeks and warm, sweet skin, her shiny hair, her green eyes and snappy comments...