Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Short, but Sweet

As I repeatedly go thru folder after folder of digital pictures, you what I'm realizing?  As this fucking disease was taking greater hold of Jill us, our life - our nucleus - was getting better, stronger, closer to our version of perfection.

What a fucking realization this is.

It's a cruel one, actually.

As our trio's relationship grew stronger, so too did this horrific disease.  Did the fucker feed on love?  Not possible...right?  (Though I'll take a leap and assume it's not been studied from this angle...)

There's no bow tied on this post.  Just a brief observation that struck me hard and moved me to share.

We had a damn good life together - Jilly, Ro, and me.  And now I consciously put it upon myself to ensure it is not overshadowed by the thing that made this trio a duo.

Short, but fucking sweet.  That was our life together.  Today I choose to focus on the sweetness.

All love,

J, J, & r

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sleep. Snap. Repeat.

Years ago when smart phones hit our hands, Jill and I started lightly razzing one another.  When one of us left our phone unattended, the other would scoop it up, snap a ridiculous (PG) pic of ourselves, and quickly assign it as that phone's screensaver.  Admittedly, Jill was more consistent than me.

As a result, I'd often flip open my phone (that's right, the flip phone, baby - still love 'em) to see a jolly, but deranged Jilly face staring back at me from the screen.  A quick and ridiculous way to inject joy into one another's day.

As technology evolved, so too did the game.

Looking back, I think my way of dealing w/ the stress of our roller coaster was to sleep it off.  I didn't show a lot of emotion - little-to-no tears, no screaming, certainly no violence.  I was aware of my position and needed to play the part of the rock, Jill's rock.  And I think I did it well...when I wasn't sleeping.  That was my escape...how I dealt w/ the madness that tended to be our reality.

We'd often come home from a long day of doc appointments and I'd be drained from posing as the 'strong' one.  So, once Jilly had what she needed, I'd very naturally curl up to the closest couch or bed that would have me and pass the fuck out.  Sleep truly was my escape from reality.  Still is.

Jill had the Gilmore Girls, West Wing, a few iPad games, and books.  When she wasn't socially engaged w/ friends or family, these outlets were her escape tools.

Netflix and a book may help me from time to time.  But, more often than not, I couldn't underestimate the power of the nap.  It just pulled me in.  It was a crucial part of my coping.

And Jill knew this...though she had her fun w/ it, too.

I now realize how often these naps occurred b/c they are documented.  They're documented in photos stored on both our phones.

I'd conk out.  Jill'd grab a phone, snap the picture, and go on doing what she was doing.  Oftentimes I wouldn't see a pic until weeks later.

"When did you take that?" I'd ask, pointing to a picture of me on the couch, mouth agape, w/ the dog snuggled at my feet.

"That one?  Oh, probably a few weeks ago.  You hadn't seen it.  Keep scrolling.  There's more..." Jill would respond w/ gleeful pride in her voice.

And so it went.  I'd get my escape sleep and Jill'd document it w/ a series of photos.

Seriously, I could probably drop $75 on a thick Shutterfly album - all pics of me sleeping.  No good.

And now here I am.  I can't fucking sleep.  Well, I shouldn't say that.  I sleep.  I just have a really difficult time getting to sleep at night...and then waking up in the morning.

You try going to sleep w/ the same person for over ten years and then (somewhat) suddenly have to do it on your own.  (On second thought, don't try it.  Please.)  It's unnatural.

Quite simply and eloquently, it sucks.

I try to sleep to dream her.
I try to think of our shared moments.
I try not to think of Jilly.
I try to plan the next day.
I try to read myself to sleep.
I try to meditate.
I try not to try...

So far, no recipe for successful sleep.

If I just knew once I fell asleep I'd wake to one more picture that Jill snapped of me while I was out...

I think I need another plan.

All love,

J, J, & r

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's in a Compliment?

I've always been able to dish a compliment.  Just can't accept one.  Though with Jilly's help/insistence, I've gotten better over the years.  Before reacting w/ a sarcastic retort, I swallow it (save it for later), and respond w/ a simple 'thank you.'  It's tough, but I'm growing up...a bit...despite ulterior efforts.

But, like I said, I can give a compliment.  In fact, I like to.  And while they may not be given in great detail or description, they are always sincere.

Case in point - I would often compliment Jilly when I thought she looked especially beautiful.  Maybe she was wearing a new shirt, pants, skirt, or dress.  Maybe it was a new haircut.  Maybe she just looked damn good.  Whatever the case, if it fell inside this compliment category, I would often look her in the eyes and say, "You look nice."

(Quick tangent: At what point do you begin to call a woman's 'shirt' a 'blouse'?  Is there an age cutoff when 'shirt' is no longer acceptable and must be replaced w/ 'blouse'?  Or, was 'blouse' only used in the 40s and 50s?  Or, does it depend on the attire being discussed?  Eg. If the top is formal, call it a 'blouse'.  Casual?  Label it a 'shirt'.  Please advise.

I tend to define 'blouse' usage like I do 'slacks.'  I find it inappropriate to for anyone to utter the word 'slacks' if you are below the age of 50.  Jill backed me on this one.

Back to my compliment eloquence..) 

Lame, right?  Sincere, yes.  But, underwhelming on its surface.

I mean, the line certainly was genuine.  I didn't gloss over it and move on to another topic.  I'd take a beat and give her the compliment.  It was real.  They were all real.

Jill's response to this line was always always always the same.  "I am nice."

And it is in these two lines - You look nice.  I am nice. - that really displays our understanding of one another.

Jilly knew my inarticulate compliment came from nowhere else but my heart.  I said it.  I meant it.  I just didn't dwell on it, for lack of a better word.  I certainly wanted her to know how I felt at that moment, but didn't want to make a whole 'thing' of it.  Maybe I needed to more often.  But, when I catch myself looking in the rear view (as I do so often these days) to see if I did enough good to and for Jilly, for this one anyway, I think I'm in the clear.

Jilly absorbed each and every compliment I lobbed her way with great affection and understanding.

Jilly knew 'You look nice' was more than just those three words.  That line encapsulated so much more - You are stunning, I'm taking a moment to be thankful for you out loud, I'm so damn lucky, I love you, and on and on and on and on...

Jilly knew that.  And I knew she knew.  I don't think I can begin to express how comforting that is, how that feels.  If I had to put a label on it, I'd probably call it love.

I don't know.  Maybe this particular J&J post is too 'inside baseball.'  Maybe I'm not communicating it clearly enough for you to empathize.

That's okay.  Jilly gets it.  She gets me.

All love,

J, J, & r

Happy Holidays (circa 2006)

Jill was always great at grabbing a camera and capturing a moment.  Unfortunately, b/c of this, I'm finding her more behind the camera than in the frame.  This video is no exception.  But, it's a brief beauty worthy of a view.  Watch Ro.  Listen to Jilly.

Happy Holidays indeed.

All love,

J, J, & r

Friday, December 12, 2014

Nothing Means Something

It was another scorcher in Houston.  Thankfully Moonpie's A/C was keeping us a cool 68 degrees in the cabin.  (The exact temperature I do not know.  Moonpie is not equipped w/ a thermostat.)  The point is, we didn't feel the three-digit temp outside.  (And yes, Moonpie still expels A/C like a boss.)  

Jill and I were driving thru the Galleria area, likely on our way to another eatery.  (Tex Mex - yes, please...in a past life.)  We were in the midst of a conversation when I stopped at a red light.  As Jilly continued to speak, I listened('ish), but also recognized a couple - really a trio - on the corner of the intersection...waiting...broiling under the angry sun.  I quickly labeled them a 30-something husband and wife w/ kiddo in stroller.

At this stage, Jill and I had only been married for a year or so.  The shine had not yet worn off.  (Honestly, it never got the chance to.)  So, this particular family was several years ahead of us on the familial timeline.

So, I'm watching this family of three and I notice both the husband and wife standing somewhat next to one another, but gazing, zombie-like in different directions.  Neither is speaking.  You would think each of them was alone if not for the closeness they were to one another.

Immediately this thought struck me, "I never want to end up like that family - disengaged and aloof."  It was a memorable moment for me.  So much so that I'm tapping back into it nearly a decade later.

Obviously I'm projecting here.  Admittedly, I don't know who they are or what they're thinking (aside from, "Why is it so fucking hot all the time?  Did someone piss off the sun?"  We all thought that.)

Flash forward five, six, even ten years.  When I look back at the scene on that street corner, I see it thru a different lens.  Yes, experience yields new perspective.  And my life experience since that moment paints a different picture of that family of three.

Jilly and I were very good, very comfortable at doing nothing together.  The company of one another was more than enough - even if it was in silence.  Anything else was icing.

In my opinion, you can't underestimate the ability to do nothing with someone else.

So maybe that's what that couple in Houston had mastered (or was in the process of mastering) - doing nothing together.  If so, well played, sweaty couple.  Carry on.

Or, shit, maybe they were miserable b/c of the fucking heat.

Hot or cold, Jilly and I could do nothing together like champs.

All love,

J, J, & r

Closest to 'doing nothing' that I could find...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Voice

(If you immediately thought of the reality TV singing competition, you've come to the wrong place.)

We knew.  The odds were not even close to being in our favor.  As Jill always said, "Science just needs to catch up."

That's not to say we didn't have hope.  Our lifeblood was hope.  W/o it this would have been a much shorter, much darker journey.  It's just that our hope coexisted w/ reality.  Some days - like when a chemotherapy had run its course and we needed a new plan - reality kicked the shit out of us.  But, we lifted one another up and grabbed onto that hope once again.  Amazing how a person can almost be fully functional w/ a little bit of hope.  (It's when that hope is snatched away that you crumble.)

But, as days, months, and even years passed, we began to recognize that science wasn't catching up...and our 'mass medicine' options were running low.  We could start to see the end of the track...though we didn't focus our attention there.  (That's when I started to take deeper breaths on a regular basis...just to quickly reground myself, keep calm, and be that rock that Jilly needed.)

In effort to consciously have more meaningful, elongated conversations, Jill and I began to record ourselves at night...just audio, no video.  We even toyed w/ the idea of making these conversations into a podcast.  (Come on, everyone's doing it.)  Each conversation - 45-60 mins in length - centered on a certain topic - friendship, finances, fear, and a couple others that didn't start w/ 'f.'  We did five in all.  (I wish we did 500.)  I'd hit record and we'd just talk, free form.

I listened to a couple last night.  (I don't sleep much at night.)  And it's that voice, that fucking beautiful voice.  I can look at pictures for hours on end (and I do).  It helps (& hurts at the same time).  But, her voice.  Jilly's voice.  The inflections, the volumes, the emotions, the cadence, the sincere warmth - I miss and love it all.  Really, this is not some rearview rose colored glasses feeling.
I can genuinely recall being in conversation w/ Jilly this past year and truly, actively listening to the sound of her voice (probably omitting the context her words).  I knew that there was a limited shelf life to that voice.  And I was trying to permanently engrain it in my head, in my heart.

And thank God for the voice memo app on the iPhone.  I have about a dozen 2-10 minute audio files that I recorded unbeknownst to anyone present to capture little snippets of our daily life...the 'tiny commonplace.'  I played one for Ro this morning before school.  As we were finishing up breakfast, I played Mommy singing a song from Ro's second grade play.  It's freaking magical.  Ro lit up and I light up every time I hear it...honestly, every time I hear Jilly's voice I glow.

It's comforting.

It's home.

Got anyone w/in earshot that you love, adore, and/or admire?  Ask them something, anything.  Then really, truly listen to their voice.  It's like nothing else in this world.

All love,

J, J, & r

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grandma & Jilly

I'd come home from work and we'd all end up in the kitchen, prepping dinner, doing homework, and catching up on our days.  The usual stuff that I assume most functional families participate in...nothing out of our ordinary.

Often times Jill would mention, "I got to talk w/ Grandma today."  My grandma, not hers.

From the moment the two of them met, Jill and Grandma hit it off.  (To be honest, there weren't many people that Jilly didn't find some immediate connection to...unless they were full on curmudgeons.)  Almost immediately Grandma gained a grandchild and Jill a grandmother.  Jilly just had a way of shortcutting her way into the family.  She just had a way about her.  It wasn't forceful.  It was warm, open, honest, natural.  Really, all the qualities that originally drew me to her.

And so it was.  The relationship grew to where Grandma and Jill spoke at least once a week.  And if I'm honest, that may be more frequently than I spoke to my own grandma.

It was quite a beautiful relationship.  Each would call the other just to check in.  Grandma nearing (then into) her eighties was contracting some health issues.  And we're all up to speed on Jill's health challenges.  The two of them would look out for one another from a distance (Grandma in Tennessee), making health related suggestions on a regular basis.  Whatever they could do for each other to make life a little bit easier, they tried.

At one point in this last year, Grandma refused to drink water.  She didn't like the taste.  (What?)  We needed a plan.  Immediately, Jill had two.  1.  She ordered and mailed Grandma an infuser.  Grandma could fill the pitcher w/ water and infuse it w/ different fruits to mask the taste of straight water.  Brilliant.  Grandma didn't use it.  2.  Jill suggested sending Grandma one of those old school helmets flanked w/ a bottle on each side w/ straws that come down to your mouth...so you can walk and suck w/ ease.  Jilly even wanted to brand it w/ the Pittsburgh Steelers' logo (Grandma's hometown team) to make it more appealing.  Ultimately this one fell thru...

But, again, just a couple examples of how they cared for one another.

Grandma would call me periodically, quickly - but sincerely - ask me how I am, make sure I'm upright, then dive into Jill.  "How's Jilly doing, honey?"  And she always had a suggestion to make things better.  Is she taking this?  Consider taking that.  Try using this when that happens. 

Jill and Grandma had have a genuine adoration for one another.

And as of last night, the two of them are now reunited.

Please please please continue to look out for one another...and if time permits, help me guide that beautiful eight year old into a bright, prosperous, and healthy future.  Love you both, always

All love,

J, J, & r & G

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rory, in her own words...

One note:  As my dad and I previewed this video, we could overhear Rory belting out holiday tunes from her shower.  The kid is gold.

The Spirit & the Soft Spot

I'm not religious.  Jill was not religious.  (Let the judgement begin.)

This is not to say we didn't have beliefs.  We did.  We do.  We have a belief in God, in spirit, and certainly in one another.  We just - for better or worse - didn't subscribe to a particular set of religious beliefs under one single religion.  Jill was (in my opinion) great at picking and choosing from different religions what best fit her individually.  I, on the other hand, am Jewish by label...but it doesn't run much deeper than that.

And while Jilly was very comfortable w/ her own belief structure, I've always had difficulty building my own.  It's always always always been an internal tug-of-war.  I need religion.  It will make me whole and provide a solid foundation and direction for my life.  Then from another lens, it appears to be the root of all/most conflict on this planet.  So, there's that.

Like Jill, I've always had a nebulous belief in the afterlife.  Not so much hell, but some undefined post life dimension of sorts that we all enter after this phase on Earth.  And I think it's b/c of my our belief in the spirit.

During Jill's last few months, we had many difficult and honest discussions w/ Rory.  (Conversations I hope you never have to have w/ a child.)  We expressed to her that Mommy's body was breaking down and would not last as long as we'd all like it to.  But, the spirit.  Mommy's spirit will (and does) live on.  So, while you'll see Mommy's body appear lifeless, you'll know that her spirit continues on, taking on another form.  We introduced the term 'vessel.'  Mommy's body was simply a vessel for her spirit.  And thankfully Mommy's spirit will never die.  And as long as we keep Mommy in mind and in heart, her spirit will continue to live inside of us forever.  This was as comforting as it could be to an eight year old.

Having these discussions in bed w/ Jilly and Ro helped reinforce my belief in the never-ending spirit.
But doubt, as it always has, remains.  I'm a proof guy - always have been.  Show me and I'm in.

I've found myself in recent days thinking about the spirit and this now-more-appealing-than-ever afterlife.  And what I keep thinking is that it has to exist.  In other words, what we had can't be it.  It's not enough.  We're not done.  We get a second act, right?  We have to.  I'm not going to say it's only fair that it occur...b/c I know firsthand shit just ain't fair.  But, not surprisingly, now more than ever I have to believe.  I have to believe I'll see my wife again.

If you look down at the outside of your hand, there's a spot between your thumb and index finger, kinda near the webbing.  (Is it called webbing?  We're not frogs.)  I don't recall how or when I stumbled upon it.  Maybe in a moment of holding hands early in our relationship.  But, Jilly had the softest little spot on both her hands.  And for whatever reason, like things do in close relationships, touching that spot stuck.  It seemed to provide equal comfort and calm for both of us.

I found myself touching that spot on Jill's hands a lot in the last few days before she passed.  I wanted her to know, to feel that we could both be comfortable, now and in the future.  I hope she felt it.

So, while doubt still nags at me, I have to do believe our spirits will find one another once again.  And when they do, I believe that reunion will come w/ that feeling of comfort and calmness we both used to get from that soft spot on Jilly's hands.

(lots of deep exhales)

All love,

J, J, & r

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"...the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace"

It's grey today - both outside and inside.  And that's fine.  To be honest, Jill and I always liked the grey days...maybe me a bit more than her.  (The atmosphere created by the grey lends itself well to my musical tastes.)

But today feels different.  Maybe b/c I can't share my grey w/ Jilly.  Maybe b/c today I've embraced the ever-present lethargy that has waited for me to cave in for weeks now.  Maybe I'm just freaking tired b/c I delay going to bed alone at night.

Regardless, here I am.  I have a stack of things to tend to.  I need to get out for a run - fight the lethargy w/ mobile therapy.  But, the air around me feels just thick enough to keep me here in my room.

Many people play the WWJD card.  In my case, I often find myself asking, "What would Jill do?"  And not only that, but "How would she feel about what I'm doing right now?"  "How would she react witnessing me in my current state?"

And if I know my best friend, she'd tell me I'm where I'm supposed to be right now.  Don't try to do it all at once.  "Give yourself a break," she's told me time and again.  My pushback to her has always been that I don't need, nor do I deserve a break.  I'm not overdoing anything.  I'm not overtaxed.  Yes, emotionally I'm in a perpetual funk.  But, as anyone will tell me, I get to be right now.  I'm functional.  I laugh.  I love.  I'm just not at a comfortable level yet.  And maybe knowing that fact is part of this still-fresh battle.

Those of you that are reaching out to us - via text, phone, e-mail, etc. - are incredibly helpful.  To be clear, just the checkin, just the request to help is enough for me right now.  I don't need you to cook for us (right now).  I don't need you to fill out social security forms w/ me.  But, you're inviting Ro and me to do things.  You're not pushy.  You're just there.  And Jill knows this.  And she's smiling b/c she didn't want me to become a recluse.  Like Ro and me, Jilly is comforted simply by the fact that you are present in our lives.  And we all thank you for that.

So I'm slowly, deliberately reading a very short book that a dear friend so thoughtfully gave me after Jilly passed.  I was reading it this morning after I dropped Ro at school and one particular phrase struck me w/ such truth that I read it again and again and again.  The author is expressing all the ways in which he misses his deceased spouse and he ends his list with "...the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace."

That is it.

As a duo, then a trio, we did things.  We met people.  We went places.  But, it was the little in-between spaces, the spaces I (assume) no one posts about on Facebook, that were the richest parts of our coexistence.

Admittedly, Jill was clumsy.  On more than one occasion, she'd walk into a doorframe or bump into a table.  I'd hear it, turn my head.  We'd meet eyes.  She'd laugh.  We'd laugh.  I miss that.

Jill can't find anything...b/c she'll leave anything anywhere.  Invariably before heading out the door, she'll ask me where she left so-and-so.  "I don't know," was invariably my response.  Thus Jill's zigzagged hunt thru the house began again.  I miss that.

Each night before bed, Jill had to have the sheets and comforter just so.  The sheets needed to come out and fold back over the top of the comforter.  Why?  "B/c that's the way it's supposed to be."  It didn't matter if I was already in bed reading or sleeping.  She'd get in bed, lean over me, completely and intentionally disrupt me, and quietly repeat, "Don't worry, I'll fix it.  I'll fix it..." as she'd proceed to 'fix' the covers for us both.  It was a nightly occurrence that always irritated me.  This one - for whatever reason - I miss more than most right now.

"...the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace."

Humor me.  Stop for second.  Take a breath.  Look around.  Embrace the commonplace.

It may be common.  It's not forever.

All love,

J, J, & r

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


This house is too quiet.  Even when it used to be quiet, the silence was created by three, not two.  The silence of two is different.  Right now it's darker.  It's heavier.  It's intoxicating.  I know it won't always be like this.  But, right now, it just is.

I was folding laundry and moved to punch out this post.

I was the dishes guy.  I'd cook.  I'd organize.  And I was the default dish washer.  That's my wheelhouse.  I got that.  You've got a dirty spatula?  I'll make it shine again.  (I don't like to do it, but I get the job done.)

Jill was the laundry lady.  It wasn't something we labeled one another.  But, when our household fell into place, it just so happened that I was on dish duty and Jill made sure we wore clean clothes.  It worked.  It all worked.

Even when it didn't work, it worked.  We worked.

So I'm in the middle of my second laundry load this evening.  No big deal.  I got this.  It's not like it's a manual process.  I load the clothes, pour the detergent, and push a few buttons.  Go.  Not a problem.

Where I get hung up and what really moved me to post this one tonight is the post dryer scenario.  In other words, the folding.  Give me towels.  I can fold towels all day.  I'll stack 'em and shelf 'em.  Done.  But, clothes...more specifically, shirts, I've got a problem. I've always had a problem.  It's like I need a tutorial from a part time Gap employee.  They can fold like champs.  (Do champs fold laundry?)  Here's the thing.  I can get the job done.  I can make do.  But, Jilly didn't make do.  She folded that shit like someone was watching.  Tight corners.  No wrinkles.  No random cuffs tucked in to disguise shoddy work.  (Been there.  Am there.)

We actually had conversations (plural) about this.  She'd patiently tutor me and we'd laugh at my failure.

Now it's on me.  And I wonder, does Ro recognize my inability to match her mom's folding skills?  Does she look at her stack of clean clothes and think, "Is this what I'm left with...a guy that can't even properly fold a shirt?"  Does any iteration of this seep into her always-on brain?  Is my inability to fold a microcosm of my parenting abilities?  If he can't fold, he can't parent at the highest levels.

Don't get me wrong.  We're getting by.  We're getting to school on time.  No one's wearing paper pants.  Right now we're making it - one cliched day at a time.

But just making it isn't enough.  This kid - my daughter, my focus, my center - needs to have the ability to thrive at every opportunity in life.  I don't want anything - including me - to stand in her way of greatness.  If you ask me (you didn't), she's already great.  She excels.  I want this to continue.  I need this to continue.

I talked about this w/ Jilly.  "I don't want to break her," I'd say to her, holding back tears.

Jill said all the things you'd expect Jill to say - all things supportive, reassuring, and sincere.

But the truth is no one knows how we'll handle tomorrow.  We had much better odds as three than we do now as two.  Will I position it that way to Ro?  Never.  Will I do everything in my power to ensure she has the brightest future possible?  W/o a doubt.

It just may be that we're wearing wrinkled shirts along the way.

All love,

J, J, & r

Monday, December 1, 2014

"Party on 7"

For nearly seven years, we had a fairly consistent oncology appointment schedule.  We hit Siteman Cancer Center once a week or once every two weeks, depending upon the severity of the situation at any given time.  (Sometimes we needed to be monitored more closely.)

Given the frequency of our visits, we knew the ins and outs of that hospital building...

Looking for the best non handicap parking space mid morning on a weekday?  Enter the attached garage and loop your way up to the fourth floor.  But, here's the trick.  Nearly complete a circle on the fourth level and begin your descent back down toward level three.  It's on this stretch that you'll always find 2-3 decent spots...close enough to the center's entrance/walkway.  (Of course, throw this logic out the CR-V window when your spouse can no longer walk on her own.  You roll out the fucking red carpet, pull up to the front doors, and take every necessary step to ensure she is comfortable and not overly exerting herself.)

Tired of waiting for the overly congested elevators on level three to make themselves available to you?  Been there.  If you're headed up to the breast cancer floor, there's a separate express elevator bank to the left that will take you directly to the seventh floor.  Find it.  Use it.  Thank me later.

If you're like my wife, you don't want that generic bullshit coffee they spew out of plastic boxes that look like they were left there in the 80's.  So, head over to St. Louis University's College of Pharmacy bookstore.  It's only an elevator ride, hop, revolving door spin, skip, zigzag walk, and jump from Siteman.  The bookstore has a Starbucks ready to accept your $5.65 in exchange for the "Grande soy white mocha, one pump, no whip."

Often times (when Jill was healthy enough for it and we were a bit running late) I would drop her off at the first floor entrance, allow her to check in, and I would then park the car and meet her inside.

I don't know how it originated, but a habit, a ritual of sorts, formed.  I'd pull up alongside the curb.  Jilly would pop out, hold the door, look back at me (w/ a freaking gorgeous smile) and always always always say, "Party on 7!"  Meaning, it's time to do this.  Let's go to the seventh floor, heads high, and make the most of this situation.  My response to Jilly was always the same, "Party on 7!"  Every single damn appointment day.

(B/c I tend to deflect the severity of situations w/ humor, in later months, as Jill would walk away from the car, I would roll down the window and add something loud like, "Make sure to ask the doctor about that nasty fungus that seems to be spreading!"  There was no such fungus.  But, damn it, it made us both laugh.  Mission accomplished.)

Somehow "Party on 7" spread among the seventh floor regulars (staff mainly).  We'd check in for blood work and they'd say the phrase to us as we were signing the clipboard.  They loved it.  We loved that they loved it.  It was something so simple, so effortless, that allowed us to exhale and just barely take the edge off...just enough to get us through another day of appointments.

B/c for me, appointment days knocked me out.  They were so emotionally charged.  What will the numbers look like today?  What's the plan?  Do we have a plan?  Can we get treated today?

It was the little things like "Party on 7," a white mocha from Starbucks, an express elevator, that made appointment days more manageable for Jilly and therefore for me.

Jilly faced the music every fucking day.  And some days it was louder and noisier than others.  There have been a lot of beautifully honest things said of Jill since November 12.  In my opinion, the strength, focus, and positivity she showed every single day (I'm not kidding - every single fucking day) was heroic, admirable, and super human.

Jilly, you partied the fuck out of 7.

All love,

J, J, & r

Good report dance party on 7 circa 2012...