My friend, Ted, called to confirm our lunch date.
"i'll be the one who gained six pounds," i joked. half-joked. was totally serious and quite unhappy.
Ted laughed. he's been my best friend for 32 years and knows me as well as anyone can know a kooky gemini.
Ted is the kindest,most generous person i know. he also has a terrible degenerative disease and could really use those six pounds, himself. in fact, he could use a few more too.
Ted doesn't compare his woes to mine. when we meet (oh, he looks frail), he dutifully tells me that you'd never guess i'd gained an ounce. of course, Ted wouldn't notice if i'd gained 600 pounds. i've never met someone less judgmental. his love is unconditional.
while Ted orders fish and chips and carrot cake, i order 1/ 2 a turkey sandwich and salad, balsamic dressing on the side.
as Ted talks about his many, many treatments and medications, i wonder how he stands it and how he's so good-natured and gentle about everything.
He talks about a time when the medications won't work anymore. he gently tells me that time will come, unless something miraculous comes around.
Reader, forgive me. i can't write about my weight. i want to tell you more about Ted. it's worth the read.
Ted is two years older than i am. we met when i was 13 -- he started taking piano lessons with my mother. i loved him immediatedly and announced that he was best friend. this worked, because i didn't have any other friends.
we were two social outcasts, taunted by our peers. once i found him, i was pretty fine -- who needed anyone else when you had Ted?
Ted was (is!) an extraordinary pianist. he'd come to our house and practice six hours a day. this drove me nuts, because i wanted his attention all the time.
once ted could drive, my life got better. 'bye, bye cruel classmates. i'd skip school and we'd carouse around.
my mother didn't care what i did. by this point, she was living in new york with her cruddy boyfriend most of the time.
when i was a junior in high school, my mother moved in with Scumdog (he really sucked. i heard he died in prison a while back ), and ted stayed with me. he'd delayed going to college for a year (he then went to johns hopkins. i have to brag.)
it was the best year of my early life. i'd say i'd go to school twice a week. the rest of the time, i was learning to drive, hanging out in parks and going to movies every day.
we were a funny sight to see. we both had fuzzy hair , lots of acne and weight problems. i was a good 180 and Ted was about 110.
We ate a lot. I gained weight and Ted didn't. once he even binged with me -- right before a terrified me went off to college. We refer to it as the pre-Michigan binge.
Ted stayed true through all the years, especially when i was very troubled (his help with this is a long story for another time. net/net without him my family would have abandoned me ) and my mother was dying.
for years, he visited her several days a week and took her to doctors appointments. he sorted all her medicines, handled emergencies, grocery shopped and sat with her for hours.
Toward the end, i didn't show up for my mother, my brother wasn't interested (but he took care of my dying dad) and my sister NEVER once left Pittsburgh.
Ted was there. He took care of her until she slipped out of her coma. I held her on one side and he on the other. I'd never seen him cry before, but he was inconsolable.
i wanted to be with my mother at the end -- she'd brought me into the world, and i wanted to be there when she left. still, i left the room and let Ted be the last one to hold her. He'd been her best child for years.
"Ted's an angel", I'll joke. half-joke. am completely serious.