Wednesday, October 24, 2018

In a New York minute

One of my favorite Don Henley songs is the New York Minute, whose refrain goes "In a New York minute, everything can change." We live our lives as if it's all available, only vaguely and occasionally aware that nothing is certain and everything can change.

I met Rebecca in 1991 when I was teaching a class on African women's literature for the Pennsylvania Humanities commission's adult program. She was a student in that class and an astute reader. She was getting a PhD in education administration and worked as a high school principal. When I left Pennsylvania, we started an old-fashioned correspondence by mail, sending cards and letters to each other every couple of months. From time to time, I'd also receive a package: a calendar, a newspaper clipping, a book. I'd send her art I was working on or readings I found interesting. It has been a wonderful friendship of intellectual intimacy.

I hadn't heard from Rebecca since April but there were occasionally long silences. Then last week, I heard from a mutual friend on FB that Rebecca had been in an accident and had been in several hospitals and then a rehabilitation facility. To make a long story short, she fell while walking her dog (slipped on some grass), injured her shoulder, made it home to the front walk and passed out from pain onto the concrete steps leading up to her home. She broke her nose but worst of all, she broke her neck. She 's now a tri-plegic with use only of her right arm below the elbow. 

She is in good spirits and her mind is clear. For that I am so grateful because I know she will find a way to be in herself that works for her. I have been sitting with my sadness for her and my admiration at the same time. And holding to the preciousness of life in whatever form it takes. I'm going to go listen to that song.

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