Friday, August 31, 2012

The best ones

"I write songs... Well, they don't come easily. You have to feel inspired. Like the song we're going to do next; I discovered that song in Africa. I was in a country called Guinea. I went deep into the interior of the country, to a little village, and met with a storyteller. That storyteller went way back into African tradition, and African mythology, and he began to tell the story about the fire, which means the sun, about the water, and about the earth. And he pointed out that all of these things together, can turn the world around. And that all of us are here for a very, very short time. In that time that we're here, there really isn't any difference in any of us, if, we take time out to understand each other. And the question is, do I know who you are; do you know who I am, do we care about each other, 'cause if we do, we can, turn the world around." (Harry Belafonte, on The Muppets show)


"Hi Beth.  How are you?"

It was an instant message from a friend, Crystal (not her real name), and it was a bit odd - hadn't heard from her lately, although occasionally she asked how I was doing.  We worked together when I first returned to Colorado.  She is a very sweet, kind person, and I knew she has 3 kids, but she wasn't one to talk a lot about herself.  She is a private person.

"Hi Crystal!  How are you?!!"

"I'm fine.  How are you?"

"I'm great.  Pretty recently I started a new drug for MS.  It's supposed to help with walking but it's done so much more.  It's amazing." (and then I went on and on)...  So, how are your kids?"

"They're great."  Then she told about her daughter, but not a lot.  Her daughter is beautiful - I think she could be a model.

There was little else in that conversation.  Not long after that, I saw another friend.  This friend asked me, "did you know about Crystal?" 

"She sent me a message a while back but what's up?"

"She has a brain tumor.  They're going to remove it, but there are spots on her lungs, so they think the spots on the lungs were there first."

My jaw dropped.  Crystal - nothing ever went wrong for her.  As time went on over the past 2 years, I sent her messages when I would see her logged on.  The last time was in November.  "You know, I'm just trying to get rid of this stuff.  I'm really sick of the whole doctor thing."  Could she take time off?  No, that was gone.  Couldn't people donate their time off?  She didn't seem to want that.  There was the possibility that she and her husband could go to Hawaii in March.  But I don't think that ever happened.

It is strange how as I got better, she got worse.  I would ask how was, just as she used to ask how I was.  And she still would ask about me, every time we talked, just as she always has.  It was almost like a break for her, from her life filled with doctors and treatment.  She never smoked either.  It just doesn't seem quite right.

As I've dealt with this summer, thinking how ridiculously hot it has been, I've thought about Crystal and wondered how she is doing.

I saw my old boss who is also her good friend recently.

"How is Crystal?"

"It's not good, Beth.  She hasn't done chemo in awhile.  I think she's trying some experimental stuff."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"No.  Honestly she doesn't even seem to want me to do anything."

And that is Crystal.  Always listening to others, even amidst all she has in  her life.


"There is no, question, about Jim Henson's great artistry, and the extent to which we have all been touched by it. But greater than his artistry was his humanity, and unless you have moved among the wretched of the earth, unless you have spent countless hours on the reservations of this country..., unless you've moved among those who live in ghettos contained by segregation and deprivation, ..., unless you have sat among tribes who care for children that face an existence of hopelessness, ...,, many have no nope, ... they find their own humanity in the humanity of these creations (muppets), and then you will understand the real gift of Jim Henson and his colleagues. Jim Henson said, 'there is hope, there is joy, there is the ability to love and to care, and to find greatness in, difference...' He (Jim Henson) showed me that there is a greater humanity than I ever knew, with those creatures, those muppets. He challenged me on so many levels, and kept me in touch with my own humanity."
~Harry Belafonte at Jim Henson's memorial service.

Crystal has shown it - that ability to hope, find joy, love and care, and find greatness in difference.  She's one of the best ones.


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