This will be a less funny Letters & Lists post, kind of like “a very special episode” of Diff’rent Strokes but with less (possibly no) Mr. Drummond.
We took this photo the night before Matty went in for heart surgery.
Matty hates that I feel the need to chronicle our entire life in photos, but I desperately felt the need to have one last family photo before…just in case…what? I don’t want to type it.
I lecture my kids all the time about gratitude. Be grateful for what you have. Stop wishing for that one more thing that will make you happy. I get so frustrated when they’re not satisfied with the (over)abundance of things they have. And I know it’s wrong to mock your children, but I should be up for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for my impersonation of my kids whining about not getting to have gummy bears on their ice cream. “Life is so hard! Why, why God why can’t we have gummy bears on our ice cream? What are we, some kind of candlyess paupers?”
So this is a gigantic thank you note to you, friends. While having my Favorite Person in the World undergo triple bypass surgery was not exactly a sundae, the love and support of our friends and family were most certainly a jumbo-sized bag of Haribo Goldbears, which everyone knows are the crème de la crème of gummy bears. (I’ll admit this metaphor isn’t as expansive as I hoped it’d be),
I never really used or understood the phrase “to be buoyed by people” but that’s exactly what it felt like and still feels like. I was drowning, guys, and you buoyed me. You were a big fat plastic flotation device that saved me (should’ve stuck with the gummy bear analogy, huh?) from sliding underwater in my stress and sorrow. I’ll never be able to thank you enough but I’ll give it a try.
Thank you to everyone who said prayers, sent good juju, and put good vibes out into the universe. Our friend JJ even got her whole church to pray for Matty. I may not be super religious, but I firmly believe in the power of putting that energy out there and I know that Matty felt it and internalized it, and I believe it helped shepherd him through his surgery.
Thank you to the friends who took my calls. The ones who let me cry to you while I walked Rosie, the only time I let myself cry, so I wouldn’t scare the kids. (That’s not totally true, I also perfected my technique of going into my bathroom and pressing a tissue on my closed eyelids while silently weeping. It feels half pathetic and half like you’re the dramatic fragile flower heroine in a Lifetime movie. Try it!) You offered the perfect blend of crying with me, making me laugh, and reassuring me that everything would be okay. It was like having my own personal Mr. Drummond. (Did I force it? Maybe.)
Thank you to friends who volunteered to work the Natasha phone bank, even if no calls ever came through. I often just didn’t feel like talking to anyone, but knowing there were so many of you on standby was/is so reassuring. I feel fortunate that you are spread out in different time zones so I know I can call the hotline anytime and operators are standing by. I picture you wearing those Time-Life headsets and ready to give me a free alarm clock.
Thank you to everyone who checks in on us all the time. You are persistent and cute, like our beloved neighborhood dog friend, Tuck who we often see on our morning walk and who knows I carry a bag of treats in my pocket. I wish I could give you all a treat and pet you on your adorable heads.
Thank you to my friends with hearts of gold who are going through really shitty things themselves and still reached out to check in and offer your help. I am so moved by your selflessness and aspire to be more like you, Julie S, Julie M, Lori, and Maartje. If life is a kindness contest, you are winning by a mile.
Thank you to my “internet friends,” who have long since outgrown that title, who banded together, created a special Facebook group where they said embarrassingly nice things about me, and collected an obscene amount of money as a gift for us. I cry every time I even think about Ajit calling me and saying, “I thought we’d get like a few hundred dollars to send you a fun little token but now people have contributed so much money I felt I needed to call you first.” It ended up being enough money to help us pay most of our medical bills plus a little side pot for Matty to buy some thank you Cameos (still working on those). I can only assume that any thank you I write here will be overshadowed by the one Mindy “Facts of Life” Cohn gives in her eventual Cameo.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the best frickin meal train in the whole world. Your rainbow salads, tofu and noodles, enchiladas, lasagnas, chicken and biscuits, glorious soups and salads, homemade sourdough, brownies, and so many other delicious things felt like getting to sit in one of those special VIP tables in the middle of the restaurant kitchen every night. We were so touched, not only that you took the time out of your busy lives to cook us a meal, but also by all the extra gestures — notes, cards, labeled bags of “thyme for soup,” bottles of wine, pints of ice cream, bags of candy “for the kids” (no, seriously, I gave them to them, Danielle), and one rat skeleton. (You know just what we needed, Rosa.) When Marie told me there was a waitlist for the meal train, I was downright embarrassed by your generosity.
Thank you to friends from every stage of my life, from my college roommate’s parents (love you, Sylvia & Gene) to my adopted bonus mom’s niece (you are a gift, Kelly) who sent Grubhub cards, Uber Eats cards, and Venmos which will have us ordering nachos, I mean, heart-healthy takeout, for the next 10 years.
Thank you to Michael, who graciously offered to do nothing but sit in a recliner for weeks in solidarity with Matty.
Thank you to Humphreys, who sent Matty a Golden Girls blanket, knowing there’s no one he’d want more on his crotch than Sophia.
Thank you to Beth, who knows me so well and always knows the right thing to say.
Thank you to Dina, who texts me all the time and genuinely offered to travel from NJ to “cook/school/referee the kids” and “do the dog stuff too,” and keeps sending thoughtful gifts to Matty.
Thank you to Lisa, who sent me this perfect text right when I was feeling at my worst.
Thank you to people who sent novelty sweatshirts (“Bee well”), t-shirts and hats to cheer Matty up.
Thank you to friends who sent brownies, cookies, chocolate, wine, beer, sausage, burritos, cheese, biscuits, booze-infused ice cream, NYC bagels, flowers, books, artwork, coloring books and games. These are the exact things we need to heal. Fine, the exact things I need to heal. Matty will enjoy the games.
Thank you to everyone who thought of the children (the children!), who definitely didn’t understand the gravity of the situation – George asked Matty, “Daddy, how was surgery?!” every time he left the house the week before surgery — but certainly appreciated some extra treats while their mother was a psycho hosebeast and their father was recliner-bound and not at full yeah-strength. (Credit to Lloyd Dobler) Nobody likes getting mail more than Hazy and George, who shriek with excitement any time a package arrives with their names on it.
Thank you to Marie and Jip, who basically co-parented with me the whole time Matty was in the hospital and afterwards, providing a loving, fun, happy place for my kids while I visited Matty, practiced self-care, and fell apart. They cooked us dinners, celebrated George’s birthday with us while Matty was in the hospital, and Jip did husband stuff that I didn’t even realize I needed help with, like getting the kids’ bikes off the bike rack and taking out the trash on trash night. They offered me non-stop emotional support and just generally lifted me up (total buoys!) when I needed it most.
Thank you to every single one of you for being the beautiful silver lining that reminds us that even when life gets ice-cream-sans-gummy-bears crappy, we are surrounded with love by the most wonderful people-buoys on earth.
I love you.