Since I’ve gotten my little sky diving confession out of the way, I guess the next thing to talk about is what I’ve been doing these past nine months. Although I’ve been absent here, I’ve thought a lot about the documentary and have done some more shooting. In thinking about it, I realized that while documenting how I’m handling life’s curveballs is interesting, finding out how other people handle them is even more fascinating to me. So... Keeping that in mind I’ve spent much of my BLP shooting time interviewing other people. I talked to my sister, my brother-in-law, some friends, my parents and even some of my parents’ friends.
One interview that really stuck with me was with my mom’s best friend, Barbara. Her first husband passed away from a brain tumor when I was around 13 years old. For me, his illness and subsequent death was significant not only because they are like a second family to me, but also because it was my first real experience of life not working itself out. I remember saying to my father offhandedly when they told me about John’s illness, “Okay, but he’s gonna get better, right?” I assumed my father was going to say something along the lines of, ‘of course’ or ‘it’s going to be difficult, but yes eventually...’. You can imagine then the punch in the gut it was to hear, ‘ we don’t know.’ The air of not knowing if something was going to work out entered my atmosphere and has remained to this day.
When I talked to Barbara about that same event, it was so interesting to get her perspective on the entire experience. She’s happily married to a great man now, but at the time, she was taking care of a dying spouse while raising three teenage girls. And even though I was there, and lived through it, the thought of what that must have been like for her is mind boggling. How did she get through it? How did she manage? How did she not lock herself in the bathroom and refuse to come out? And here’s what she said:
I had diarrhea every day for a year.
I should tell you here, that Barbara is a very honest and generous person, but mostly, she’s hilarious and a lot of fun to be around. She’s not very shy when it comes to her bodily functions and so, when she answered with what could have been considered a sarcastic or glib response, I knew she was being totally serious. Her emotionally gut-wrenching experience became a physically gut-wrenching experience.
For Barbara, best laid plans turned into mourning and diarrhea. It seems that even your intestines are not safe from your life going awry.
Kindness in the New Year
4 months ago