Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Musings, 14 February 2015

Good morning,

On a typical Saturday, my Musings consist of an account of a memory, sometimes recent, sometime distant; or of an event in my life or the life of a client or friend.  I have written these Musings since the summer of 2008, when my second husband Dennis had moved out for the final time and my son had gone to Mexico with an international student exchange program.  I found myself living alone for six weeks, and wondered if the hiatus from parental/spousal responsibility might have created a window through which I could step back into the life of a writer.  

I took a chance and I would not have continued had people not read and commented on my weekly offerings.

The Musings began as Saturday morning posts to the Small Firm Internet Group, a list-serve of the Missouri Bar Association.  Until recently, I still posted the Musings to SFIG and I will post this entry there as well.   I had many kind readers and commentators among my colleagues on SFIG. More recently, I have just posted a link to the Musings in an e-mail to SFIG, at the same time sending the link to a group of friends and sending it out to Twitter and Facebook.

I also blog on another 'spot.  In January of 2014, two months after my mother-in-law Joanna MacLaughlin passed away, I began a quest in her honor to live complaint-free.  I had also just quit using prescription narcotics after 45 years, a coincidence of timing that might have shown a lack of foresight on my part.  It has been a challenging undertaking, and that first year bled into a second twelve-month period.  I have learned some incredible truths since January 2014, not the least of which I came to know because I spent hours in the presence of my father-in-law, Jabez J. MacLaughlin, during his last months.  To have been a daughter to Jay and Joanna stands among the greatest gifts that God has given me, along with being mother to my son, stepmother to four wonderful human beings, matriculating as a member of an unshakably loyal family-by-choice, and having experienced the love of a few who would not want to be singled out for accolade here but who enriched my life immeasurably.

Yesterday I received a Valentine from Josh Birch, a 22-year-old man who has autism.  Josh, with my friend and his teacher Jenny Rosen, walks our dog every day.  The three of us went for ice cream yesterday at the local Baskin-Robbin.  The clerk knew Josh; he is a regular at various establishments in Brookside, from the drug store to Price Chopper where he likes to have a chicken dinner from the deli for lunch every weekday of his life.  Josh stands six-seven, thin and rangy, with bright blue eyes and a lovely shock of blond hair.  His smile radiates as he enters a room.  After he gave me the Valentine he had made for me, he encircled my considerably shorter and smaller body with his two long arms and said, "I love you Corinne".

Indeed:  I felt loved.

And so it is love about which I find myself musing today -- not because it is Valentine's Day, though perhaps something of this Hallmark Holiday sets me ruminating.  Rather, I find myself musing about love because the village that has welcomed me as a lifetime citizen bestows such joy on me that I cannot avoid feeling loved.  Residents of this village span the globe, from Hawaii to Massachusetts, Arkansas to England, California to Illinois, Minnesota to Louisiana. I've never filed a change of address although at times, I have skipped family gatherings from petulance or anger, in sadness or despair.  No act of mine has ever proven unforgivable.  The members of my family-by-choice, some of whom are biologically related to me, seem to endure any remission, omission, or injury that I inflict.

Indeed:  I am loved.

On Valentine's Day in 1998, a doctor stood over me in a hospital bed and bluntly told me that he estimated my life expectancy to be six months.  He could not say why I would inevitably die within that time.  His best guess? That my respiratory system had finally worn out and could no longer sustain the burden of breathing.

Less than a year later, that doctor and another of like-mind loomed over me as I lay in a hospital bed, arguing with Joseph Brewer, an Infectious Disease doctor who thought he knew what ailed me.  The two physicians intent on allowing me to languish stood on my right; Dr. Brewer on my left.  Ashen, bloated from steroids, weak, I lay under a thin blanket listening, finally blurting in a trembling voice: "Stop!  Stop it!  You -- you two -- you think I am going to die?  You are fired!  You, Dr. Brewer, you think you can  save me?  I choose life!  You're hired!"

Sventeen years have gone by since the initial prognosis on that lonely February 14th.  The doctor who made that prognosis has died.  Joe Brewer proved to be correct. I ailed not from collapsing lungs but from hypercoagulability related to my viral condition. He put me on blood thinners, and I recovered.  In more recent years, new symptoms related to the virus have plagued me, but I learned a valuable lesson and sought meaningful help.  Now I have come under the care of an I.D. doctor at Stanford Medical Center, who conducted the clinical trials which resulted in the use of Valcyte, a drug created to treat HIV, for people with my precise virus.  After seventy days on Valcyte, on the 17th anniversary of my having been given six months to live, I find that I might just survive.  Possibly: Even thrive.

And:  I. Am. Loved.

Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone.  My wish for each of you is that you, too, realize that you are loved.  By someone; somewhere; and probably by many people in  many places.  That realization should sustain you through any dark, embittered hours that might haunt you.  The knowledge that you are loved should also enable you yourself to love -- without reservation, without fear, and without expectation of any return other than the sheer pleasure of the experience.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

My son gave me two God's Eyes, a sweet card, and a little pot for Valentine's Day in 1998.  Some one, probably Katrina Taggart or Mona Chebaro, brought him to the hospital to give it to me.  The little red card says, "I hope you like what I was able to give you".  I did, indeed; the gift inspired me and still sits on the window sill in my breakfast nook.

Here is my Valentine from Josh Birch.
I love you too, Josh.

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.