Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Laughter and tears

I spent all day yesterday at the Dana-Farber, not as a patient but instead as a freelance writer doing a story about the Jimmy Fund Clinic, where I shadowed a nurse to learn about her day caring for young patients with cancer.

The article is scheduled to run in April in Dana-Farber's magazine, Paths of Progress.

It was an intense day, and last night I thought I'd never get to sleep. The faces of the children with cancer kept flashing before my eyes. First I saw a toddler in a flannel shirt and blue jeans, a pacifier in his mouth and tears streaming down his cheeks. He was propped on his father's shoulder as the dad walked back and forth.

It's not going to be a sad story – the place in fact is brimming with optimism, and a lot of the kids were having fun in the play area just like it was any old day with a bunch of friends – but the basic reason for them being there is sad in itself.

I am still processing everything I heard and saw.

I stayed overnight at Margaret's and drove back home this morning. When I turned on the radio, I heard John Lennon singing "Give Peace a Chance." It was the 30th anniversary of Lennon's death, and I happened upon a wonderful program, the NPR show On Point, titled "Politics, Pop and Power." Host John Ashbrook moderated a discussion about Lennon's life and legacy, with bits of his songs and Beatles songs woven in.

I remember we teeny-boppers running to the store to buy the early 45s and then running home to play them on the record player. I wanted my parents to hear, and as I remember, their reaction was neither here nor there, sort of a "That's nice, dear."

Each of my friends had a favorite Beatle. I was a Paul girl, but I liked them all.

At first I couldn't believe it when I heard that Lennon had been shot. I was shocked and devastated, just like everyone else.

You look back knowing how it all turned out and you marvel at your innocence back then.

When I got home in the early afternoon today, I had time to walk Maddie before heading to see the surgeon who had pulled two teeth last week. While waiting, I read the New York Times story about Elizabeth Edward's death.

The surgeon said my mouth looked fine. Because I got so black-and-blue, he suggested that I do the next two teeth one at a time. Wow. Double the fun.

Then I headed to tennis. I was the only one who showed up for George's clinic, so got a private lesson. I hit a lot of ground strokes, which he said looked great. He pointed out that I was really running for balls now.

I had a little more trouble when we went to the net for volleys. I have a habit of bending my elbow instead of keeping my arm straight; he said many tall people do that. (He took out the milk carton that he has many players put on their arm to keep it straight, but he didn't make me use it.) You get more power if your arm is straight.

He also had to keep reminding me to step before I hit, instead of after, and to bend my knees to get under a low ball.

"Let me see how far down you can get," he said. I bent my knees and got pretty far down. "Great, but I'll never get up," I said. "Sure you will," said the optimist.

He was making me work.

It went like this:

Step step step! Racquet up! Elbows! Elbows elbows elbows!

That last "elbow" cracked me up, and I missed the ball.

"Why'd you miss?" George asked.

"Because I was laughing!"

He grinned.

"You can hit and laugh too."

Laughing is good.


susiegb said...

Gosh - so many things to comment on! I'll choose John Lennon! The day he died is one of those days that you remember where you were when you heard for ever! I was on a tube (train) in London heading for the airport to fly to Miami for a birthday party (and that's another story!) ... I remember seeing the headlines in someone's newspaper, and feeling almost paralysed with shock. Yes we were so young and idealistic then - but you wouldn't have it any other way!

(And I remember exactly the same thing about playing music to my parents thinking it'd change their lives, and them saying 'that's nice year'!!) :)

Naqvee said...

I learnt a lesson from your post.. when you saw those kids being present there for the sad reasons really desn't affect them AS they are living their every moment very happily.. they have the best times when they are together... unlike us.. who are at good places for good reasons nonetheless unhappy for no specific reason.

love Naqvee