Saturday, February 24, 2007

The surf is crap this weekend.

Yesterday I visited my dear friend, Louise, in hospital.

Being an advertising guy you work with a lot of people in a lot of different offices, as the nature of the business means burn out if you stay too long, and also,if an account goes wrong, you're out of a job.

Most become 'friends' to some degree or another, but few have had a deep impact on my life outside the business.
Indeed, I think my career would be much more lucrative if I had played that game of lunches, award shows, all that crap.

I was always too aware of the call of the other, and I was and am still working in an industry I'd happily see the back of.

That being said, sometimes you meet classic, wonderful people.

Louie was my copywriter over 20 years ago, and again back in the mid nineties we teamed up again, then as part of a "Threem' (as in three people in a team), so it was me, Lou, and Heather Rose (what a wonderful name).

Two writers and an art director. Work was fun.

Then the account went west, and so did half the agency.

By then though, a great friendship was forged though with Louie, Bruce, Kara and Mimi. I'd sung her girls to sleep, and Sue and I have had many wonderfully funny evenings, laughing at Bruce's endless jokes and one liners, or sitting open mouthed at Louie's appalling language and wicked sense of humour.

Actually, we're all pretty good at being appalling.

Today the girls are both Bachelors of Music, Cara in violin, and Mimi, one of the best little jazz singers you'll ever see.

Louise is a published author, and running a writing school. Bruce has piffed art direction (yes, he was one too) to begin a new career in photography, his great passion.

Just when things were going swimmingly, Louie is diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

She nearly died during her stem cell transplant. Into remission with hopes high, she and Bruce took her students on a writing/photography tour of Italy. A great success.

Now she's relapsed.

Yesterday I popped in to see her, to be confronted but her curled up in a little ball. Bruce said - Mick's here to see you darling - and she turned, smiled and started to cry.

Take me out of here Micky, it hurts so much.

By then I was sitting on the bed with her and said - Louie, if they let me I'd grab you by the heels and drag you out the bloody door.

She laughed at this and rallied, sat up and revealed a chest like a pin cushion, with bruises, tubes and bandages detailing a couple of weeks of desperation as the doctors searched for a chemo alternative that would make a dent in this miserable disease's progress.

As she sat up her nightie started to fall from her knees so I said - Watch it Louie or I'm gonna get a view straight up your fanny.

She laughed - Don't worry Micky, they've got me in a fucking NAPPY!

The old Lou was back and Bruce wheeled her out into the garden. It's hot (again), and as we stepped into the sun I began to think we should try and get some sunscreen. I looked down to Lou as she threw her gown off and arched her neck to take in every blessed ray.

I laughed at myself. The last thing she has to worry about is skin cancer.

We got talking about a lot of stuff, including death.

I'm not afraid at all, says Louie, I just worry about leaving everyone behind.

She's not religious, Louie, nor am I.

No one knows what lies on that other side, and I reflected inwardly something I've said to Lou in earlier chats, and have often said to the kids.

They've asked me, more than once, as they've grown older - Dad what happens when we die?

I tell them what the different religions believe, about Heaven for the Christians, Jews and the people of Islam, about achieving Nirvana after a long cycle of reincarnations for Buddhists, and my favourite part of Buddhist belief.

That there is an ocean of universal life, and individual lives are like waves that rise up from it, travel for awhile, before falling back into that great universal sea.

In truth, we haven't a clue.

So I say to the kids, two things.

Did you know that every atom in your bodies formed inside stars billions of years ago?

No.

You're made of stardust.

Cool.

And remember before you were born?

No.

Was that so bad?

No.

Well that's the worst thing that can happen.

Their faces relax.

And when you die, one day you'll be stardust again.

Be the best you can, treat people the way you'd like to be treated, and whatever you choose to believe, don't force it on anybody else.

Just before I left Louise got some good news. Chemo is working. Better blood count. No more dialysis. You'll be home next week.

You could have bottled her smile.

6 comments:

Patch said...

Enjoy every moment that your here, I say.

On ya!

phil said...

simply being there in the same room with Louise is enough.

much luv to Louise, and to you as well...

ras said...

Hard but hopeful. Thanks Mick for sharing.

Gaz said...

Takes a lot of soul to smile through that kind of pain, cheers.

clayfin said...

So glad that your friend is doing better.

Jgirl said...

Mick, I hope she gets to read how you have written about her here. Im sure she already knows how you feel about her though.