Where are you, Teri Garr? I know you are out there somewhere. You make me laugh. Belly laughs still echo in my head. You are talented, Teri, but more important; your sense of humor never seems to suffer. You have jousted with MS with grace and humor.
We have sat together at dinners and on television programs. Always a treat. Giggling or throwing back your head to let go is a valuable coping device. I know you get it. I have often quoted you on MS, that multiple sclerosis is “a scum sucking pig of a disease.” That is as accurate as anything we will discover in a medical journal.
I have often stolen that line, with attribution, of course. The thought is irreverent and a bit defiant, a way to raise your middle finger and get away with it. You have never played the role of victim. I admire that. The self-serious sick are boring.
So where are you? The phone just rings off the hook. I suppose you may be on a job somewhere. Maybe you are far away, shooting a movie. I hope you still are working. I do worry that you are sitting there, alone and silent, pushing others in your life away. I have been there. The phone rings. I am by myself and do not move.
When the spirit suffers, the sick often withdraw and hide. If we wonder who is calling, we make no move toward the sound. We isolate ourselves because we just do not want to engage. That idiosyncrasy is hard to explain to the chronically healthy.
I will try. When I feel bad about myself, my life and body, I know how vulnerable I become. I cannot cry alone, and I will not tempt fate by withstanding sympathy from others. I detest sympathy. So I just step away and go deep inside myself, into my cave. And I am safe.
I retreat when my walking weakens, if I am dropping whatever may be in my hands, when my memory falters. Ya da Ya da. Sometimes I just do not feel right, physically or emotionally, and I pull the ripcord. It is not that I am embarrassed. I am past that. I just do not want to be on display or explain. Do not Disturb, the sign reads. Leave me alone.
I just want to be by myself. No crime there. No wife. No kids. Just me. They get it. This is self-indulgence, at its best or worst or neither, I recognize. But is it a problem? I suppose that depends on how long the solitary state is maintained and, of course, who you ask.
Families should know each other and understand if not anticipate behavior patterns, foibles, flaws, whatever. There are many ways to get through a life of sickness. And there are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one, and the cement is dry.