Goodbye to 2006 and what a year it was
Before we start a new year, I think it’s important to reflect back on the year that has passed, and the lessons we have learned during this time.
2006 was a year that I will always remember. It was a difficult year, one of the most difficult I’ve ever been through. But through the challenges I’ve grown, and mellowed. I have a newfound perspective that I couldn’t have achieved any other way.
I met my friend Fred back in 1980. I had just gotten a job as a Page at ABC Entertainment and Fred was one of the first people to make me feel welcome. He showed me the ropes, and quickly became one of my closest friends. In 1983 I got married and Fred was at the wedding. When I had my first son, named Freddy after his great grandfather, Fred was touched that the baby shared his name. Fred’s mother would babysit little Freddy for me when I took classes. When my sister moved to Los Angeles I introduced her to Fred, and romance bloomed. Marci and Fred were married soon after that, and Fred was now officially family.
My sister and I were pregnant at the same time, and my son Brian, and Marci’s son Arthur, were both born in 1989. Our prayers were answered when we finally got a little girl in the family with Marci’s daughter Emma in 1991, with Freddy off at school, the three little cousins spent time at our mother’s house while Marci and I worked together getting my business off the ground. These were very sweet times, and our families were very close.
When the kids started school and Marci went back to work full time, we didn’t get to see each other as often. But as family, we shared all the life moments, and remained an important part of each other’s lives. Marci and Fred were there for me when I went through my divorce, and they celebrated with me when Greg and I got married.
Fast forward to January of 2006. The day started out like any other, but phoned me in the morning asking me to “stand by” because Fred had been taken to the hospital. She didn’t know what was wrong, but it was serious. The plan was that the kids would go to school, and I’d be there for them when they got home and hopefully we’d know more by then. Unfortunately nothing that we found out was good. Fred was diagnosed with an dissected aortic aneurism. He was helicoptered to Cedars-Sinai Hospital and rushed into emergency surgery. We were told that this was the same condition that John Ritter died from. It’s genetic, and for the most part people don’t even know they have it until it’s too late.
That was the beginning of three weeks of heavy emotions. We were never sure if Fred would live or die, if he would walk or not, or what further challenges he would have to endure if he did make it out of the hospital. Each day was excruciating, with tests, procedures, more surgeries, and more uncertainties. We cried, and prayed, and hoped, and played music for Fred and talked with him. I’m still not sure if he ever was truly aware that we were there, he was not conscious most of the time. Friends and family rallied around. Many came to give blood, some brought food, or took Marci to lunch. It was very clear that Fred was loved, and everyone he knew was deeply concerned. Fred’s mother and brother were visibly distraught. My heart would break for them. For those three weeks it was as if time stood still. Nothing else mattered, nothing else happened. It was so overwhelming and all consuming.
Finally the doctors agreed that nothing more could be done, and Fred passed away.
Marci and I spent the next few days making funeral arrangements. There was a moment when we were at the funeral parlor and we just looked at each other, wondering how we got to this place. This isn’t something you could ever anticipate, or prepare for. This isn’t something you get over. More than 900 people attended the service, and Marci gave an eloquent eulogy. She looked poised and peaceful, but I knew she was falling apart inside. We had three weeks to get ready, to say goodbye, to make sense of things, but there were no answers, no resolution. And we knew that there might never be.
A few weeks went by and we did our best to get back to some kind of a routine. So much had changed but we had to keep going. Just when I thought I was starting to handle things again, I got a call from my dad’s girlfriend. She had never called me before, so I knew something was wrong. She told me that my dad was lying on the floor and that he couldn’t get up. I told her to call 911, but she said my dad wouldn’t let her, so Greg and I rushed out the door to see for ourselves what had happened. I called my brother and he said he’d meet us there.
When we got to my dad’s place the door was open, and I found my dad lying down on a cushion on his bedroom floor. He was coherent, and he said he was just resting, but it was clear that he couldn’t get up. Even Greg and my brother couldn’t lift him, so despite my dad’s protests, we called 911. A fire engine and a paramedic and a police car arrived at the same time – all the hoopla that my dad hates. The guys are used to dealing with stubborn old men who insist nothing is wrong with them, so they were able to convince my dad to go with them to the hospital. Turns out he had a stroke.
Although my dad was coherent and aware that first night, the next three days he was entirely out of it, which I learned is typical for people who have a stroke. I’ve never seen my father so helpless, so weak. It was awful. He didn’t know where he was, and he kept trying to get out of bed and he’d fall down. They had to strap him to the hospital bed to keep him still.
Being back in the hospital made all the emotional wounds feel still fresh. I was amazed and in awe at how strong the spirit can be. As hard as it was, we got through it. My sister and I had always been close, but the experience with Fred brought us even closer together. And now with all this going on with my dad, the three of us kids, my brother and sister and I, were really there for each other. We had to make big decisions about how to handle my dad’s care. With a stroke you really don’t know until months later how the person is going to heal. So many things can happen. We knew for sure that we didn’t want him living alone anymore, so we would have to go out and research places for him to move to.
Of course amidst all of this I’m still working and managing life in general, and one night I’m at Brian’s volleyball game, carrying purse and jacket and baby gift for the coach and I trip in the bleachers. I knew I hurt my foot badly because I was in terrible pain, but this was the big game and I stuck it out until it was over. By that time my foot had swollen up twice its size. A nice dad and Brian helped me to the car, Brian got me home, and Greg took me to the emergency room. Yep, x-rays showed the foot was broken. The right foot. Couldn’t drive for six weeks.
My brother and sister drove me around as we toured retirement living places, and I hobbled around on crutches. My dad was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital and Greg drove me there every day so I could visit my dad and talk with his doctors. When I graduated to a cane we decided on an Assisted Living Faciliity near my dad’s home, and we all moved his stuff over. I overdid it walking around so much and sprained my left ankle, so I basically was stuck sliding around on my butt for the next few weeks.
My body healed, but it took longer for my mind and emotions to heal. I went through a kind of post traumatic shock syndrome. Old emotional stuff from the divorce came up, I just felt like I had so much to deal with all at once. But again, the spirit is resilient, I made it through, stronger than ever.
And thankfully, my dad recovered 100%. He’s as strong and ornery as he ever was! I drove him around to his doctor’s appointments for awhile, but now he’s comfortable taking the shuttle at his place so he goes on his own.
The second half of the year I worked a lot. Helped establish the Online Peace Cell and co-produced a Celebration of Peace. Did The Today Show twice, and MSNBC News twice, and went to NY twice for Satellite Media Tours. And Greg and I went to Australia for his son Ryan’s graduation from the police academy. On the homefront, I helped Brian with his college applications, and had a lot of fun helping out during Homecoming week at his school.
So what will 2007 bring? I have no idea! I know what I would like to have happen, but I don’t know for sure what the Universe has in store for me. I’ll just take each day as it comes, going about my business, setting intentions, taking action, and then letting go of all of it because anything can happen, good, bad, tragic, wonderful – and whatever happens I know it’s all going to be okay. Because it just is.