After a Fashion
Stephen's gratitude is sincere, and we may thank some great news for it
DEAR DIARY The sleeping pill is not working. I open my eyes and look at the clock – it has only been four minutes since I last looked. I've tried to sit down and write a thousand times over the last week but haven't been able to zero in on my thoughts enough to write anything cohesive. So I'll back up a bit and tell you the news I received recently. After spending an emotionally agonizing year waiting to die, I was convinced recently that my cancer had metastasized and the end was near. At my mother's behest, I gulped and went for a CAT scan. The news was not bad. What I had thought was the cancer spreading turned out to be something else much less severe. But that didn't seem to be great news when I'd resigned myself to dying so long ago. But my doctor hadn't told me the rest of the news: Comparing last year's CAT scan to this year's, the cancer showed virtually no progress. So much for the prophecies of doom and gloom. I'm sure the aggressiveness of the cancer was waylaid by the diet of alcohol and illicit drugs I'd consumed much earlier in the year when I was not quite in control of myself. But this was little solace to someone who had foolishly canceled all his plans and dreams and goals and had no plan for survival. But I've been just playing by ear since then, trying not to be scared about thinking ahead and not to be scared of the phantom living within me that may rear its ugly head at any time. At least my head's been clear for the last few months. Many difficult thoughts still linger, not the least of which was how badly I treated my family and friends. They all helped me so much, but I was unable to absorb the love and attention lavished on me at the time. Thank God most of them had more faith in me than I did. I was pretty thankful this Thanksgiving. Thankful that the past year was over. Thankful that I could still walk and see and function. Thankful for a devoted and loving family. Thankful to have a place to spend Thanksgiving where I'd been forgiven for my abominable behavior... I wrote not long ago about my nephew Tyler and how he'd come to me a couple of months ago needing help, and I selflessly turned virtually all of my attention on him. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes it doesn't. But I had to try. Still trying. Wondering why, sometimes... A very dear friend is facing the horrible consequences of a very bad judgment call. I ache for him. There but for the grace of God go I. I watched that person go through wrenching hideousness and abject misery as he tried to figure out if he had the strength to face the consequences. This was one of those people who was virtually always by my side in the last year, trying to pull me back from the abyss, and I kept trying to remind him of the words of comfort and love that he had shared with me. But, as we know, the faith has to come from within; no one can give us faith. Comfort, yes. Faith, no. So I can't tell you how heartening it was to see this person last night, seemingly a new person inhabiting my friend's body, facing the consequences with the attitude that he was going on a spiritual quest. Today we hope to find out exactly how bad the consequences are ... and I hope my friend can carry with him even a small part of the comfort and love he has shown me... Damn, I'd wanted to talk about light, frivolous subjects, sparkling with holiday magic: like my trip to the HRC Black Tie Dinner in Dallas with the dazzling Jaclyn Havlak (aka Jacki-Oh on 101X's Hypersonic Radio). We loved Dallas, and Dallas loved us – and I don't think I ever really want to stay anywhere else in Dallas except the swank and fabulous Magnolia Hotel. Really. I can tell you about the masterful massage I had in the hands of licensed massage therapist Bruce Christman here in Austin (698-8532). Truly divine. Really. I could talk about the piece on me that was shown two weeks ago on KLRU's Downtown, a truly moving piece of direction by Kevin Pruitt that wrapped two tales together into a lovely duet of color and words. I was floored by the sensitivity shown by the camera. Really. I could tell you about the fab new Waterstone Aesthetics salon (www.waterstoneaesthetics.com), but I'll show you a photo and give you more info later. Really. I could have written about all those things ... but they paled next to the things that were really running through my mind. All I can really think about is how alive I feel in being able to care about someone else besides myself again. Really.
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