Wednesday, December 31, 2014


TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF 2014. From January through August I thought I was having the best year in a long time. I was flying and cruising all over the world without a care. My most urgent thought was, "What am I going to eat next?"

My dear friend, Valerie Harper, was (and is) doing very well managing a cancer that doctors said would kill her in three months (two years ago). Things were good. I was reading all the books I ever wanted to read, I was studying music theory, I was involving myself in hands-on charity work.

Then I got that call about Joan Rivers telling me to get to the hospital as fast as I could. I got there in plenty of time to say goodbye---goodbye to her, and goodbye to any remembrance of 2014 being a good year.     

I'm making each day the best that I can. I'm not bed-ridden and sobbing (anymore). Joan would hate that. I'm living, but it's with less light. And that won't change. That's the trick as we get older and more friends leave us. The pain doesn't go away. You just live with it, and honor that person by laughing again and not giving up on life

So that's what I'm doing. I have Joan's stand-up specials on every DVR machine, and frequently, just before I go to sleep I watch about five minutes of it. I just stare in disbelieve, feeling weird. I haven't been able to laugh at all.

Then something happened.

I have a zen garden on my coffee table that I love. The white sand is so clear and clean and it soothes my mind. On it I have a small house and three rocks. As soon as Joan died, I wiped the symbols away that were drawn in the sand. I needed to see something totally blank with no "issues."

About ten days ago I felt an urge to put a "J" in the sand. I put it in the corner and then added the Pagoda (Joan) and the three rocks (Myself, Melissa and Cooper.) The sand was still blank except for the "J." When I got up the next morning, there were curvy marks in the sand! It was definitely a "spirit prank," and we all know who that was.

So, the next night, I erased the curvy marks and had clean sand. "OK, Joan," I said out loud as I went to bed. "Let me have it!'  The next morning I got up and there were four parallel lines neatly across the sand.. It was obviously made with the little rake that comes with the garden. Do you know how happy that made me??? Joan is around and playing jokes. Thank God.

That night I turned on the DVR to see her comedy special, as usual. I felt a little warmer as I watched the jokes, and then something amazing happened---I laughed out loud for the very first time.

I've been sticking close to home since September. I really don't want to do much. On New Year's Eve I'm having an early dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant (like 6pm) and then it's off to sleep deliberately because at 6am it's off to the Rose Parade. That is the most glorious, spirited way to celebrate the beginnings of a New Year (at least in the U.S). And I'll smile.

Happy New Year everyone. Let it be a year of gratitude each day. Start off your day, or night, and take a minute to be thankful for the good we can find. That's what will get us through. It takes great courage to make that choice, but it is the only healthy one to make. God bless all of you. We're in this together.

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