It hasn’t been the easiest week for some dear friends. Kate’s a feisty, strong woman but life keeps slamming her down and I think this week she had just had enough. She decided that it was time to go home, regroup and get some rest. The weather hasn’t been the best (until the last few days!) and there’s a limit to how much anyone can take before someone cries uncle.
Obviously, I didn’t want her to go. (Like it’s about me) It’s finally getting warmer. It’s finally the Florida we know and love…hot sun, cool breeze, gorgeous sun. Ever the optimist, I figured it would all work itself out. And, let’s face it, I knew deep down, that when I said goodbye, it might be for good. Brain tumors are pretty nasty.
So I was glad to have the last two days. We went out to breakfast, stopped to say goodbye to knitting friends, went to the jetty, called a dear friend who taught both of us in high school (and at 93 is still teaching us), stopped at the Upper Crust on Venice Avenue so she could have one last scone the morning she left, went to chemo (Kate had chemo, not me) and stuffed as much as we could into two suitcases and a backpack. The rest went into a “ship” pile.
“A shit pile? ” shrieked Kate when she overheard me talking to her sister, Karen. “I want those things.”
“Relax,” I said. “It’s a SHIP pile. I’ll ship them to you as soon as the kids leave.” (Erin and her family are due tomorrow.
And then today, we headed for the airport…Kate, her sister, Karen and I. I entertained with MCAS stories and how I drove my superintendent in Massachusetts nuts because I wouldn’t shut up about how terrible high stakes testing was.
I told them about Claire, one of the sunniest kids I know, who was crossing the street after school one day that fall. I was on crossing duty and Claire was now in the fourth grade. She had been in my second grade class.
So, Claire, I said, How’s fourth grade.
Okay, she said, in a small little voice, so NOT Claire.
What’s wrong, I asked.
Well we have to take a big test this year and if we don’t pass, our teacher will get in trouble (You have to be kidding me…a teacher told her THAT?) And if we don’t pass in high school, we’ll have to sit in the audience and watch all our friends go on stage and get their diplomas and not us.
Oh, Claire, I said, that’s awful. What’s a diploma?
I don’t know, she wailed, but if everyone else is getting one, I want one too!
I reassured her that she was going to get a diploma, finished crossing duty, stomped upstairs to give her teacher a piece of my mind and wrote my first letter to the editor about the problems with high stakes testing.
Anyway, we laughed and gabbed and talked about everything except the fact that we were heading for the airport and Kate was going home. And we got to Fort Myers in plenty of time. I unloaded the car, gave her a hug and didn’t cry until I was on the highway heading back to Venice.
Damn, that was hard. I went back to the condo to clean out the fridge and pantry…And then headed home to get ready for the Texans to arrive.
I said goodbye to Kate’s sister, Frani, this week, too. She left on Thursday. That, too, was hard. That time I didn’t make it out of the parking lot before I was crying. Frani and I were in the same class in high school and got to know each other pretty well simply because they sat us alphabetically and her last name starts with an S, mine with a T. Frani’s been with Kate for a month, trying to make it work and well aware that her own days are numbered. She has a rare form of cancer and the doctors have told her she only has a few months left. So I knew saying goodbye to her was also probably really goodbye. Still, with Frani, I have a funny feeling those doctors are wrong. She’s heading to France with friends next month, long after she’s supposed to be gone. Some people just don’t die on schedule. Those Sullivan girls are like the Energizer bunny…they keep going and going and going.
If I see Kate and Frani again, it will be wonderful. And there’s a good chance that I will. (ever the optimist) But if I don’t, I am ever so grateful that they came into my life so long ago (and back into my life in the last five years) I’ve been lucky to know them. And it’s going to be okay. Even if it’s not okay, it will be okay…if that makes sense.
Kate called this evening to say she arrived safely in Milwaukee. And, did I find her electric toothbrush and would I put it in the “shit” pile? Jerry says we need to watch our language.
Magical week ahead. Beach and pool…that’s all the Littles want for the beginning of the week. And then on Wednesday we’re heading for Universal. We’re going to Harry Potter World. The girls have read the books. Declan has seen the movies. Fingers crossed that it’s not TOO mobbed. At least spring break for most Florida schools is NEXT week. But we’re preparing the kids for long lines and long waits. We’re staying on site so we can go in an hour early. That will help.
Oh my, how lucky we are to be alive….
And to end on a very serious note, is anyone else miserable that Downton Abbey ends tomorrow night?