My lupus group meets in the nearby community hospital.
Except in the summers, when our conference room is always scheduled for something else and they have no room for us. So we go on hiatus.
Only, this year we really didn’t want to, feeling more strongly about it than in the past. So we decided to have a get-together over lunch, picking a place in Los Gatos so it would be easy for Rita to come. I for one hadn’t seen her in years.
She was one of the original members of the group and from the sound of it I might still have been in high school at that point and back then all the information they could find called the disease universally fatal. End of story.
She’s in her 90’s now and chipper as ever–I will definitely take that kind of fatal.
The woman who’d made the reservations, mindful of several hearing impairments in the group, had asked for a quiet room, and Viva gave us the quietest one of any in memory. Near the end I said by way of thanks that yes the new hearing aids are great, but, this was the first time I had heard nearly everything in a restaurant in a group this size (we were seven) since…I thought a moment…probably my 20’s.
Normalcy is such an amazing gift to get to sample.
We all got big helpings.
One woman made it there whom we weren’t sure would be able to; for all her health problems, she’s a primary caregiver herself and for several minutes there she spilled all her grief of what she and her husband were going through.
How they were doing mattered to us. We asked how they’d met, and telling her multi-continent what-were-the-chances story got her laughing and her old self, freed to simply be.
We reminisced too over the people we had loved in that group over the years.
Do you remember the woman whose wake was held at her home , I asked. I found out after years of knowing her that we’d grown up in neighboring towns–who knew. What was her name?
Yes! In Sunnyvale, right?
Yes! And here’s the funny part, I told them. There was a man there at that wake whom I knew I knew, and he knew he knew me, but we both looked at each other and went, You are wayyy out of context. Where do I know you from?
Turns out he was my kids’ math teacher. He lived across the street there. Our late friend (I want to say Carol?) had taken care of his wife when she was dying, and then when Carol died, Rick opened his door the next morning to find–Carol’s cat.
She looked up at him. She stepped over the doorway. She lived here now.
And so he had indeed taken in that sweet cat that had watched these two households taking care of each other and she knew where to find the love.
I had missed enough meetings over the years that I didn’t recognize a few names the others were remembering, people who had moved away, people who had gone on, people who had simply stopped coming. This afternoon, we all found the love all over again all the more intensely and I never wanted to miss a thing again.
Rita, tiny, mostly blind, not quite frail yet if she can help it, was getting into another friend’s car for her ride home. Did we wear you out? I asked her.
Yes! she laughed, and pronounced, And it was worth EVERY. MINUTE.
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