Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Finding my Blessings in Man-Heaven
I'm sitting on an umbrella shaded patio under the California sun. I've been attending a two day conference on grant funding, with my husband and five others from my foundation. I've sat through several 90 minute sessions on various aspects of philanthropy while my husband splashes in the ocean. (Yesterday he saw a movie being made that involved lots of women in bikinis and a car being blown up- I didn't ask which he enjoyed seeing more, but it sounded like man-heaven.) The conference site is lovely, the hotel quite luxurious. The bed in our hotel room may very well be the best bed I've ever slept in. I practically need a step ladder to get into it, its so high off the ground. The comforter and pillows are so generously fluffy. I could stretch out my arms and legs and not bump into my husband. Ahh, the luxury of bed space- so this is how the other half sleeps. I ordered chocolate cake and ate it in bed while we watched cheesy movies. For my birthday yesterday, we got together with my long time friend Cindy, who relocated to LA about 5 years ago. Her son Avery is 16 now, a handsome and accomplished young man. The four of us drove around Chinatown, at my request, and found a Chinese restaurant to have dinner at. It was so good to reconnect. Cindy came here to study Traditional Chinese Medicine- a 6 year course of study that will result a masters in accupuncture. I'm so proud of her and yet I can see the tiredness that has permeated her being. Survival here has been difficult for her. The cost of living is high, she's raising her son alone, and I can tell the last 5 years have been lean and tumultuous. Cindy's former husband, a once brilliant, handsome, and sweetly amiable attorney, has been lost to us all in a dark and unrelenting abyss of drug addiction. His memory haunts and hangs over us as Cindy makes reference to her and Avery's ongoing "recovery" through their support group. How do you "recover" from a husband and a father? The visit leaves me sobered and once more counting my blessings. I think we live hand to mouth, but seeing Cindy forces me to remember all our resources. We own our home, located in a safe suburban neighborhood, our kids go to good public schools, we are surrounded by family and friends to take up the slack, I have a loving and supportive husband who is my partner in both rain and shine. I kick myself for taking so much for granted, for feeling sorry for myself. It seems appropriate on my 44th birthday to count my blessings. I tell my husband again and again what a good man he is, and how much I love and appreciate him. We find each other across the huge bed and snuggle. This is all the gift I need.