Utter, Unfettered Joy

There are about fifteen people at the theatre today. I am laughing and laughing as I watch “Burn After Reading.” Nobody else is laughing except the man two seats to the side of me, who is sitting next to his dour wife.

The man and I are a duet, chortling and whooping and snorting, together. I so love the man; I feel practically related.

Looking around at the other people who are sitting still as chilled stones, I try to stifle and contain my uproar. I think, ‘Why aren’t these people laughing?’

Later, as I leave the theatre, I put my head down into the strong, dry Santa Ana winds. As I buck my way to the car I feel a great surge of gratefulness as I think, “Boy, I’m lucky. I am so lucky I have a sense of humor.”

It occurs to me that seeing the fun in things must be a talent or a gift and I am so lucky to have it. How can people ever get through life and all it’s grimness, without a rush of laughter to sweep out the dirt and tears?

It’s been a hard two months in my life with my youngest brother in the hospital, teetering on the edge of The Great Beyond, while dancing with acute leukemia.

My sister Polly kept calling me and shouting, “He’s dying! You know Art’s dying! Nothing is working. I am awake all night thinking about him. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. He’s dying, Venus! He’s dying!”

This was not good for my heart.

Finally, I said, “This is not helping. Take all this energy you have and figure it out. Figure out what will save him. Put the energy to work.”

My brother was indeed dying but now like Lasarus, he has risen from the ‘dead.’

About two weeks ago his blood and marrow suddenly picked up and began to run the race. My mother and my sister Polly and I know why. Polly put her brilliance to work and came up with a plan. She started feeding him good food from her house, blended up so he could swallow it.
He hadn’t been able to eat the hospital food and because of a thumb sized ulcer on his tongue, he couldn’t eat any food at all.

Next, after much tussle she began to feed him a nutritional protocol formulated to combat leukemia. The tussle came because the hospital and some members of the family are very orthodox and were against it.

Polly said, “You convince him to take the pills, Venus. You can do it.”

I went to visit him in the hospital and I said with a deadpan face, “You know, Art, Polly is determined to save your ass. Your bone marrow isn’t making blood. If you don’t start taking this nutrition that Polly has for you, we are going to grind up a lot of slippery liver and make you drink it, to build your blood.”

Art looked horrified. He blinked and said, “….tell Polly to bring the pills on down.”

From that time, even though he kept the pills hidden in his suitcase and took them on the sly, Art began to live.
Mom and I tell Polly that it doesn’t matter that no one believes she saved him; that they think it was the chemo but that we know she saved him and he is living now instead of dying and that is all we need to know.

He came home from the hospital a few days ago. It was a week earlier then expected and the restrictions he had expected were dropped. He no longer has to wear a mask and he can eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

There is an unusual something, however. He doesn’t stop talking. He talks and talks and talks.
I have known Art all his life and he has always been a rather quiet, thoughtful person.

The family had lunch the other day at the Coffee Shop. Art was yartling along non-stop. I looked at his wife and said, “Have you noticed he talks all the time, now?”

MaryEllen rolled her eyes in her head, looked toward heaven, flapped her hands and mouthed, “Yes!”

I wonder what this means? Has Art had a rebirth of sorts and now lives in Utter Unfettered Joy?

Or, you know how organ transplants affect the people who get them? They claim that they take on the personalities and quirks of the donors. Could it be the same with blood? Art got a lot of transfusions. Maybe his donors were big talkers?

And, just today I read that chemo damages the brain. Maybe Art got some fried neurons in the depressive part of the brain and he has come out happily manic?

I am going to have to watch him. For now, I will just hang out with him at the Coffee Shop and observe. I’ll have to largely observe, as the only way I have a chance to say anything is to shout, “Stop it! Stop it! I want to speak. I want to speak.”

Maybe while Art chatters on, I should just start laughing and laughing and laughing. Laughing continuously? I’ll put my sense of humor to work. What do you think?

I think the owners might kick us both out of the Coffee Shop.
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