Not knowing what to do with a phone call I received tonight, and how to process it besides the crying jag I had, I guess I'll do some posting.
RRJ phoned and left a cryptic message about something bad happening in his life, so I immediately returned his call, and we talked. I was sure it was news about his brother who has been battling cancer(s), but he said no, it's *his* cancer -- he was diagnosed with lung cancer. SHIT! There was mention of lymph nodes too, but he pooh-poohed it as "normal" based on what the MDs said and his net research.
RRJ is someone I met in my first year of High School in West Hartford. I was sandwiched between RRJ and Tommy Anderson, and I was in sophomore heaven - sigh - two gorgeous, funny "older guys" to laugh and joke with in "split Algebra" class. What that meant at Conard, was we'd have 1/2 of our Algebra session, go grab lunch, then have the remaining 1/2 of class. We had a droll and funny teacher, Mr Fusco who also teased a lot. First semester I didn't do so well, but I "got crackin'" and pulled my grade up HUGELY by the end of the year - phew!
Anyhooooo, back to "my guys", I'm a sucker for long haired blonds, and mmm mmm!, the tall drink of water with blue green eyes (well and brown too, one eye is sort of multi-colored) was there to behold and play with. I think some of his first words to me were commenting on my "stinky dirty feet /stockings" as I played with my shoes on /off etc. Loving sweet nothings, eh? LOL. No, no no!!! I'm not that shallow. Even at 15 I knew better, but crush? yes, absolutely!!!
He had 2 homes at the time, one was right near Conard High (when I could finally car pool, then later drive, v. relying on the bus, well, location location location is the key, and it was a great excuse...er I mean short-cut, to drive by his house to get to my school). The 2nd house he had, was in Waterford, CT, which, at the time, we were partnered with Ray Porte and the Casual Shop; women's clothing, like Gillman's. Ray Porte had 2 stores--one in Niantic, the other in "rotten Groton"; together a 3rd Casual Shopwas built in Waterford CT in the brand new "Waterfall Mall". Eureka! So many reasons to be near either home, and for "chance" meetings.
We did start dating, hanging out, and skipping school together, and I must say that I did ultimately fall in love with him - hard! After High School, we continued to keet "dating" and "not dating", talking and not talking, losing track of, then finding again one another again. In college, I and my newfound friend Joni Reagan drove down to DC in my 1969 burgandy triumph spitfire to visit him and his buddy Ray Surrette. We saw an amazing white tiger in the zoo. He and Ray took us sight-seeing -- I remember bringing down frosted brownies (not Alice B Toklas) I made for him, and later would do so again and again for special occasions. But, as I said, we'd find, then lose one another again and again. RRJ was always in my heart, and always not ever truly committing whether he thought of us as an item, ever! RRJ; Man of Mystery! He teases a lot, and sort of pulls back in many ways. [Flashback -- my brother, Jim, purchased his Austin Healy 3000 from RRJ - it was British Racing Green, Jim redid the paint-job among other things, and painted it a brown with a metallic sheen] Another confusing thing about RRJ, was that he would definitely change if other people were around, like all of a sudden he'd point out other girls, or maybe do a "mental dance" of I care, but I bet you can't figure out just how much I care.... Can you say mixed message?
So, I never did figure out how much he cared, or if, or when -- I never really backed him into a corner about his defining it -- I'm not sure why I was that way with him; I certainly was more assertive with other men in my life.
He'd always spoke of "S", his "one love", as long as I can remember. I guess I just figured I wasn't she so that was the definitive unspoken truth...but then he'd tease me with words of "S" making him tear up a photo of me because she was jealous or something. I was totally confused. Yes, We did make love, so I knew he *had* to know how I felt, since I didn't do that lightly - heck, I was a 21 year old virgin during the sexual revolution of late 60s, he had to know, right? And then there were his parents. Somehow, they would do or say something that would make me feel just not quite "acceptable" or "ok" enough for him, or perhaps they were just speaking for him? I never knew. I felt like I was always a transient from his family's POV, which kind of hurt. I know they did not like my heritage, or maybe more to the point, they did not feel comfortable with it. Then again, maybe I was hypersensitive. And, then, maybe all of the above was true?
There were times when I stopped by in W.H. and spent time with his father and just chatted when no one was home. So he appeared welcoming.. but then he'd say something that just was awkward regarding the paper he worked for and other religious people he knew. I don't know.
I was involved with RRJ when his Dad became very ill, and went to the hospital with RRJ to visit him. It was a time when I spent many an over-nighter at the beach house, when his folx were home and when they weren't so I was confused at best as to what was happening. His Mom used to have tete a tetes with me regarding her health, and other girl talks; again a mixed message, sort of. She spoke about many family things when we were alone. Even Nancy, RRJ's sister in law, never quite embraced me either, and I always felt that his brother, Rich, was just "humoring" my presence as "the girl du jour". But, ebb and flow, strong and weak, together and not so much together, I did love him "that way"; the "in love" way.
And then there was a time when I thought I /we got pregnant. At first I freaked, then a month went by, then another, and I started thinking of how s/he would look, and how could I afford him/her, and asking myself hard questions such as was my job good enough, my pay, my savings, at that time to raise a child -- and how about my emotional state? By the 3rd month of that summer, I became totally excited and ready to tell him of my decision. I decided that I would be independently able to raise him /her; but that we were going to have a baby. He would be allowed to visit if he wanted, but that he was not to worry, or fret, or concern himself about anything, and don't even think about marriage as I had it figured out and it would work just fine, me and the baby.
That following weekend, on the boat together I was ready to tell him, but damn, if I didn't get my period. Shit. I actually mourned the dream. I could have worked it; I dreamed of a girl, a very blond girl; taller than I of course, but with light eyes, and maybe, if she was lucky, "our" hair, i.e. we both had thick hair, mine curly, but his straight, and dare to dream blond thick wavy hair with some red highlights? Didn't I mention I had "a thing" about blond hair? She'd be smart for sure, and I'd be a damn fine loving Mom. ..But s/he wasn't anything after all.
As I said, that hurt me, and I grieved.
But, as the years continued, we would still find one-another and talk on the phone, or meet in person. We'd share the "markers" in our lives; his marriage, my marriage, his daughter, my father, his mother our cats....[Inkie, Blackie, Daphne (Susie the beagle)...then our various post high school kitties too....] Speaking of kitties, at the beach, and in WH, strays always found it to their house, cat fud 4 all! They also had some exotic pets, like the part wolf, and the neufoundland, but, for RRJ cats were key!]
When I moved 3k miles away, we still talked or exchanged cards -- we do talk still -- and it's now 40 years of friendship !!! I blew my own mind when I did the math (not Algebra, phew)!
But now my dearling RRJ has lung cancer and he's 3k miles away.
Oh to be there to try to soothe him, hug him, stroke his hair, laugh and /or cry together. To encourage, reminisce, go boating, fishing, sharking? again -- whatever strikes our fancy. I am so honored he was comfortable enough to phone me - for this intimacy; I'm "family" enough to him to let me hear his story. I am honored. I am devastated.
But he seems to have caught it early, and the hope is that he'll get opinion #2 at Sloan-Kettering in NYC. There is a small spot on only one lung. Maybe they can excise it, and then, if needed, do radiation, chemo, or injections to ensure it's gone for good. Then we'll have the 5 year anniversary to look forward to. This is my hope -- or any path through western or eastern or alternative healing, they can make it go away with or w/out the surgery. Whatever it takes is ok, but the easiest the process can be for him, the better. I wish this for him. Recently Marilyn told me that Dr Kaplan has now invited some alternative treatments, "experimental 5000 year old" treatments . So now is the time to embrace whatever the healing source is. RRJ has been searching the net for information, high and low, chasing it down, and I told him to stop it for now -- because having been there myself many times for me and /or for others, soon one finds oneself caught in the many dramas of success /nay failure, nay success nay...ad infinitum per treatment path -- and that becomes crazy-making. The only right path is one's own. EVERYONE responds differently. Everyone is unique. The history and successes before now are only guidelines, RRJ has his own journey to health.
RRJ is the proverbial stubborn, strong Swede [no stereotypes intended, his words and merely my agreement here]. Despite some initial shakiness in his voice as we started to chat tonight, he absolutely gained strength while we talked, and he is determined to do what it takes to hang around for a LONG LONG LLLLONG LLLLLLOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG Time!!! I'm holding him to it!
So, anyone who reads this, I ask of you to put a good word out there into the universe, or pray, and /or add him to your prayer group, to get well. I, personally, have always called him Bob, so that works for me. Please send healing light and energy his way, in whatever way works for you. He lives in CT on the Niantic River if you need some geography.
Bob has a gorgeous daughter in HS (or about to graduate? I'm not quite sure), and it's soooo not time for him to leave this planet yet. He has to be the one to "give her away" at her wedding, and approve of her "intended to be"; and how about letting him dangle grand-babies on his knee? Sounds right to me.
I'm going to do my bit, as best I can, in as many ways I can find, to make it so; please help!
PS Tonight, he told me that he was "crazy in love with me"...I never ever heard him say that before -- if I had known he felt that way back then.. ( ) ..my heart hurts somehow. But, to hear this also makes me feel all "school-girly" and "crushy" inside again, "pitter-pat pitter-pat".. you know?
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