Tuesday, August 26, 2008


525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love?
Measure in love. Seasons of love.
-Seasons of Love

The anthem song from the brilliant musical RENT keeps rolling around in my mind. I just returned to Ascoli. I was gone three weeks but they felt like three months. Funny how the clock stops and days run together the minute you enter a hospital room. Everything seemed skewed, like I'd entered a parallel universe. All around me Washington, DC went on as normal while life as we knew it seemed to brake and warp, and made me start to wonder, how do you measure moments like this?

Time became measured in three-hour increments as we took shifts tending to my uncle Dean. We didn't want him to be alone, and someone needed to be there at all times to oversee the medical care.

Night was marked by numb fatigue. Early mornings brought clammy awakenings to the sudden rememberance of where I was and why.

Days were measured in hugs and prayers and clasped hands, among the family and the extended familial-like relationships we forged with the employees in Dean's hotel. They all wanted to touch us, to reach out to us as well as to be comforted themselves, to tell us how much Dean meant to them personally, and to have us convey their messages and kisses to him.

We measured the week in countless cups of coffee from the hospital cafeteria. In pounding heartbeats, in hopes held tightly while dismay crowded into the recesses. In the number of well-wishes extended, in meals given, in smiles bestowed.

We lost count of the days and the number of tears, which were broken by jokes to dispel the tension and funny remembrances to chase away the fears.

We made it through the weeks not by taking it one day at a time, but by forgetting what day it was and operating on a different time zone altogether. By leaning on each other, picking up the pieces when one of us fell apart and then getting enough rest to start it all over again.

My uncle Dean passed away on August 6. He had just turned 62 exactly one month before his death. According to my family's scale of longevity, he should have had at least 30 more years to live.

So how do you measure a life? In hearts touched, in spirits uplifted, in opportunities given, in lives changed, in a community bettered. In moments together, in laughter. In love bestowed. Measured in love.
Turn on your sound and listen to Seasons of Love.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Please Recline For Take-Off

We found-somewhat miraculously-available seats on a last-minute flight to the US. Last minute as in, purchased on Wednesday for flights on Thursday. The connection was through London with a five hour layover, but it would at least get us into Washington, DC late on Thursday night. The family had begun gathering together.

Check-in for the international flight was rather confused and chaotic. The British Airways flight was full and probably over-booked. I had booked seat assignments online. Our seats weren't together but a couple of rows apart. When we handed out tickets to the gate agent, she informed me that my seat was changed, I'd now been knocked to the back of the aircraft as they tried to accomodate a group seated together. Bryan, on the other hand, was upgraded to Business Class. What the...? She said, "just get onboard and they'll sort it out."

I won't make a short story long by detailing the trivial aspects; we'll just say that the seat next to the Business Class seat was deemed "inoperational" due to malfunction of the inflight entertainment system. I didn't give a rat's rear about the entertainment system, so I chatted amiably with the flight attendant who needed to rearrange a few more people in the coach section where I'd been assigned anyway, and so she let me take the "inoperable" seat. Inoperable? Not! The pod system worked like a charm...I was able to fully recline to a lay-down position, get some rest, and enjoy the little goody bag they give with eye shades, moisturizers, and truffles.

As the flight was ready to depart, the attendant came and reclined my seat! I had straightened it more upright and played around the lumbar support button. Apparently, in business class you get to lounge a little during takeoff! A decent meal, a glass of wine, and I was feeling much more calm and at ease about the long trip ahead. I had been on the verge of "losing it," fearful at what would be lying ahead and the interminable eight hours of flying while not knowing what was happening in the hospital had me on the verge of going to pieces. The sweetness of the flight attendants and the chance to relax worked wonders.

I am in DC. The whole family is here (or will be arriving here) by tomorrow. It's another bittersweet journey. I'm here for the duration. My ticket is for 2 weeks but I'll extend it as needed to be here to help my beloved uncle and my family who are giving care. I'm just glad I couuld get here so quickly and offer my love and assistance. I'm not sure when I'll return to Ascoli -or to the blog, so please hang in there with me. I'll be back soon.