Stuey was the first face I saw at Serendipity Park, and also the first man with whom I’ve ever had a conversation while he was completely naked. I’m not going to lie. It was weird for me.
That being said, if there were ever a naked man who could make you feel comfortable, it’s Stuey.
In many ways, he’s been an inspiration to me and we’ve talked a lot about a lot of things. He’s helped me in ways he probably doesn’t even fully understand, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
If you’ve read the Chemo Chronicles, you know Stuey has been battling cancer. After a nasty bout of unsuccessful chemo, he goes into surgery today.
We tried to make light of the situation, but mostly to keep his head up and keep things positive. Since, I’ve not been able to find much humor and now all I can think about is that he’s going to be okay.
I’m not a writer. I’m a comedian. I murder the English language. There is a writer here in the park, but it’s not me. And if you’re not touched by the words you’re about to read, then I don’t know what will touch you.
Hang in there, Stuey. All your friends are here and love you.
The following is one in the series of great posts written by Stuart Antrim, a truly eloquent man with a heart of gold.
Monday, November 7, 2011.
It’s the first day of Cycle 3. In just three more weeks I shall be done with this nonsense and able to commence the rest of my life as a disease-free citizen, God willing.
He shuffles in, led on both arms by his wife and daughter. By her body language alone, it is clear that his wife no longer holds him in any high regard, perhaps due to years of faithfully dealing with the various illnesses and infirmities of her betrothed, the one who was SUPPOSED to be her rock. He’s very nearly deaf.
Out of politeness I try to divert my attention to Ellen on the Infusion Room TV, now that her daily dance with her audience and Gina and Nurse Towanda has been accomplished. Instead, I overhear that he is 88 years old.
He looks a little out of it, like maybe he was told that he was going on a picnic and now he can’t figure out why there’s no grass or dogs or sunshine or ants or frisbees. Everybody talks loud to him. Nurse Kim shows him to a chair as a tallish suit comes in and encroaches with her clipboard. She shouts questions at him, writing his answers on her all-important paperwork. Turns out the guy’s pretty sharp…
Clipboard: Now Mr. Little,* what’s your wife’s name?
Mr. Little: Sara.* She’s my angel. I really lucked out with that one. Can I have a cookie?
Clipboard (totally ignoring the reasonable request for a cookie): And who is Karen?*
Mr. Little: My daughter.
Clipboard: And what is her last name?
Mr. Little: It’s Buehrle.* Now you just try to spell THAT on your paper there!
Clipboard: And is she with you today?
Mr. Little: No no no. (Pointing to the daughter who helped bring him in.) That there’s my OTHER daughter, Mary Jones, easy to spell. Now how ‘bout that cookie?
Mr. Little spies an old friend in the Infusion Room and his eyes light up. They begin talking, loudly of course. It seems they were business partners once upon a time, quite successful at some Gainesville furniture store endeavor. They talk about old times, and how the streets look different now. These old guys are L.O.A.D.E.D. Or if not now, at least they were, in a culture where wealth was an indicator that you had put yourself out there, taken the risks, worked your freaking ass off, and done it the hard way. Nurse Kim comes over with one of those rolling robot computers. “We’ll have your platelets ready in just a minute, Mr. Little.”
Mr. Little: Huh?
Nurse Kim (shouting): We’ll have your platelets ready in just a minute, Mr. Little!
Mr. Little: Oh, OK. Where do those come from anyway?
Nurse Kim: Where does WHAT come from?
Mr. Little: The platelets, where do you get ‘em from?
Nurse Kim: Oh, they come from people.
Mr. Little (quite alarmed): From DEAD people?
Nurse Towanda collapses behind the nurses’ station. Nurse Kim bites a hole clean through her tongue.
Nurse Kim: No! From DONORS! Live donors.
Mr. Little: Well I guess that’s OK. Can I have a cookie?
He turns to Gina and me and says, “If you want a cookie, you have to ask.” His eyes are alert and oh so lucid.
Nurse Kim: I’m going to start your IV now, OK?
Mr. Little: OK, then can I have a cookie? **
Choking sounds are now coming from Nurse Towanda’s last known location behind the nurses’ station. Nurse Kim is also now giggling non-stop, MOSTLY on the inside.
Nurse Kim: Absolutely! If we have a cookie left over from lunch, you can certainly have it.
Mr. Little (to Nurse Kim): What does your boyfriend call you?
Nurse Kim: My HUSBAND calls me Kim, or Kimberly, actually. Now I need you to take these Tylenols.
Mr. Little: Are they chocolate-covered? I want a cookie.
Nurse Kim brings a chocolate chip cookie and Mr. Little enjoys it slowly.
Mr. Little turns to me, winks, and says, “All you have to do is ask.”
I realize that I would love to have a cookie right now.
*Not their real names.
**Supports picnic theory