the life of richie


Posted in is by Rich on September 29, 2011

On the same day that Gerri is having half her liver removed and my twenty-year friendship with Goli is coming to an end, Caroline gives birth to a girl; to Gigi.

At Stockton I run into a former student. He says, “I heard Gerri was sick,” and I explain. He does not look at me while I am relating the prognosis and explaining the course of treatment (surgery; six weeks for the liver to regenerate; six months of chemo); he looks sideways and down at the ground. “She’ll be ok,” I tell him. Joni calls later to report that the surgery had gone better than expected; that Gerri might be released on Saturday and not next Tuesday as was first thought.

Joni says: that what they took from Gerri was the size of a nectarine; a deadly nectarine. Like defusing a bomb, they took it carefully from my friend, and patted themselves on the back when the work was done.

And then: this thing with Gol happened. I write to Linda: Tonight, Goli and I had a falling out. I fear it is irreparable, perhaps. Perhaps she has become a toxic asset herself [as she used to manage]. We just have different ideas about the world: we look outside and see different worlds. I am disgusted by what she sees, and I think she must think what I see is a naive version of things (too idealistic, perhaps). So I just –– told her that, so I didn’t end up hating her, I couldn’t talk to her for awhile. This has been building for several years now: ever since she “retired” to sit around on her gold investments, savagely protecting her way of life by shoving the weak on to the pyre in her place, I think. So I told her I didn’t think I could talk to her for awhile: for a few months or a few years. Maybe forever.

(“So that I don’t end up hating you, you see: and so, goodbye.”)

The doctors grab onto the tumor and wrest it from the host. Is that tumor a part of us, then (homegrown), or just a foreign entity that takes up unlawful residence? (And when did this thing inside me turn into something else, into something hostile? Was it insidious, always there; or were there environmental factors that triggered its malignant genesis? –– the recession maybe; when you left the hedgefund after the economy had collapsed?) But what is done must be done: it is survival. And when it is done, we are weak; exhausted.

Caroline texts early in the morning to tell me the news: Will save you the horror story details! I have been in the hosp. since monday. @ 11:07 tonight, gigi katherine l–– was a successful vaginal birth! she’s perfect!

I call her and she says they were about to perform a c-section when Gigi, determined, pressed her head out into the world, and the midwife said, “Are you ready to push?” and Caroline pushed. And then it was done. And she was here. And she was perfect.

To Linda: I’ve been thinking about Caroline and the new baby and have been overwhelmed with a happiness –– I don’t even know why (the world seems so wicked anymore); somehow, though, a new baby still seems to offer up a hope for something, for something greater than ourselves even…

And Linda, she writes, Mary Oliver says it best in her poem “In Blackwater Woods”:

…you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.