In ALL, FAMILY MATTERS, FRIENDSHIP by Stephanie Klein33 Comments

lucas candy
I am not pre-menstrual, but I’ve been crying at movie previews, on a stationary bike, and in the lobby of the J. The movie previews thing is normal, but I don’t ordinarily cry on bicycles, never mind mount them. Emotions have been creeping out of me when I least expect them. Because the truth is, I, Miss Thinks Too Much, didn’t know they were there.

I was afraid of being the little girl who cried wolf. People have been coming to me, offering their good thoughts, prayers, healing thoughts for Phil, for our whole family, and I thought, Well, that’s nice and all, but I don’t want to waste them. Because what if one day I really really need them? I’ll have used ’em all up already. You know, if you could do such a thing.

Last time Phil was cardioverted it worked, for all of 5 to 7 hours. So I doubted it would be any different this time. Okay, so it didn’t work, no big deal. Nothing we didn’t almost already know… except it has been different. In the past they were able to rig his pacemaker to trick his heart into submission, force the sucker to fall in line, at least some of the time. But now, we learn, that the gig is up. The pacemaker just isn’t a sneaky bastard anymore, and it can’t whip his rhythm into marching order. And unlike last time when the single cardioversion worked for at least a few hours, now they tried to shock him four times, and none of them worked. Which leaves me feeling like things are getting worse. And it’s scary.

Oh, stop your whining, I catch myself saying. This isn’t new news. Don’t get all dramatic about it. The boy is as much of a pain in the ass as he ever was; he’s fine. And then people reach out, people I hadn’t even known were there, with extraordinary kindness. New friends, internet friends, old friends offering meals, to babysit, to listen, to talk. Just wanting me to know they’re here.

For Passover, we were invited to the home of my shiksa friend’s scrapbooking, brisket, matzo-ball star, Jewish mother-in-law. "If you need a local Nana, we are here for you," she’d emailed. Complete with her best friend Bubbie Thea, it was something I’ll never forget. It’s a wonderful thing to do, to open your home to those around you, people you might not know well. Extraordinary, actually.  It was as close to home, as close to the memories of my Dad’s side of the family, as I’ve been in a long time. And the food was outstanding. Miss Abigail ate her matzo ball, then sat on my lap and fought me for mine, drank from her bowl, and said to our host, "This is delicious; thank you for the nice meal." I loved every minute of it. What it did most is remind me how important it is to open your world up to those around you, to have dinners, to take risks with people, to make the effort.

Today, as I dropped Lucas and Abigail off at school, the director of the J came up to me asking what she could do. "If you ever need them to stay late, if you need meals, anything, people here really want to help you out." I thanked her, over and again, hugged her, and just started to cry. Overwhelmed by the kindness, the willingness to reach out and let someone know they’re not alone in all of it.

I so much want to do the same for the people around me, to give of myself, whatever I can. And to let those who’ve reached out to me, to us, know how much it really means. Because it does.


  1. Texas has really nice Jews, huh? Take care of all of you…love Abigail’s seder table courtesy; so cute!!

  2. I know you don’t want to hear this but you are a strong woman. It comes through in your writing.

  3. When knee deep in stress is when you find out who the real friendships are. Love from Indiana.

  4. So lucky to have so many people to rely on. Do you still confide in your NY girls?

  5. I love most when you write like this. So honest and open. You say what I think. I remember my mom being ill and dealing with the drama. I have faith in people. Bless.

  6. Chicken Soup For The Soul. Now comes Easter and bunnies and painted eggs!

  7. I hope all works out with Phil. He seems really nice and in love with you.

  8. You helped so many people with your books. off topic, have you sent a copy of Straight Up & Dirty to Sandra, Elin?

  9. I know a really cool group of girls in Austin. Give the word and they’ll swoop in with King’s Ranch, Cardiotini’s and dog walking skills.

  10. I’m not much of a crier, but damn – sometimes tears burble up at the most inopportune times. Especially when you’re practicing the lines in your head that everything is fine. Fine. I tell you, fine. Damnit. Truth is – it’s okay to wobble around a bit with this news – to reach out your hands to steady yourself, and luckily find strong friends to support you.

  11. Ah, you know, I always forget how young you are, relatively, young to be going through this, young to have all this talent and success, young to have this kind of true love and those gorgeous babies…and in some respects so damn lucky ..and I am so sorry that this is the card Phil drew. Sucks.

    I find myself thinking about Phil and praying for him and your family a lot these days.

    It’s interesting that he’s asymptomatic, which leads me to wonder, what if you never knew he had this? What if it’s just one of those odd quirks of nature that he’s going to be able to live with? Stranger things have happened. If you’re going to think worst case scenario you might as well also think best case…

    You’re strong, and also we aren’t meant to be islands…you are lucky to have such an extended network of people who care and want to help. All those prayers and good thoughts can’t be exhausted and can give you both strength. So kudos to you for reaching out to it.

    And then there’s that emotion-blind-deaf and dumb med student who commented on your other post. What an idiot. Has yet to learn that medicine is an art, not a science and that docs aren’t infallible. Hope none of us ever encounter THAT one in a medical emergency.

    Pray your ass off. I know the rest of us are. And why the hell not?

    Best warm thoughts and hugs to you, to Phil and those beautiful babies.

  12. Pretty cool, mostly overwhelming, what appears when you look full on instead of out of the corners. Pretty cool. Best.

  13. Wow. This made me cry.
    I’m glad people are reaching out to you to know you’re not alone.

    And it’s totally okay to cry on the bike. :)

  14. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. Take all those nice Texans up on their offers and don’t give it a second thought. As you stated yourself, giving feels good.

  15. I make a mean mac n cheese (from scratch, thankyouverymuch) and it would be my absolute honor to make you and yours some comfort food. Just give me a street corner and I’ll drop it off like it’s ransom money!
    You think I’m joking.

  16. Hardly any of those things! I never said that doctors are infallible. I have many personal experiences to support just the opposite. Medicine is an art form – sure, but one that only exists with a strong and tenacious grip on science. And I’m not sure what art has to do with God’s ‘good graces,’ which was my original point.

  17. Stephanie, you’re lucky to have neighbors who offer their time and friendship. I doubt this would happen in New York. Take them up on it and know that all of us here in cyberspace have you, Phil and the kids in our thoughts and are pulling for the best outcome possible.

  18. Glad I have my sunglasses on, or I’d be that chick randomly crying on the bus ;)

    Keeping you and yours in my thoughts, Stephanie. Chag sameach.

  19. Oh, emotions, tell me about it… your post made me all teary, just thinking what you must be feeling. And actually in Jan/Feb I was all emotional doing the Phil part of this story, thinking of all that I could possibly be leaving behind. So I do totally understand how he must be feeling too. Luckily my story so far has gone well with my brain aneurysm being coiled. I wish Phil’s could be fixed with some platinum coil too.

    Can I be nosey and ask if Phil has seen your emotions? I truthfully would have liked to have seen some from my husband instead of his… well, umm, irritating, no show of emotions. So I’m thinking, wow, he’s really upset over this. NOT! Frankly, it pissed me off but I was too afraid of bursting the bubble in my head to get really angry over it.

    Anyway, I am so very sorry that you have to go through this. You are very lucky that you have so many caring people around you and all that comment on your blog. I imagine the kindness of people must feel good when there is so much going on in your life.

    I will keep Phil and you in my thoughts and prayers. Sending you big hugs. Take care.

  20. this is my favorite part of your writing, the honesty. it’s a great thing to realize that you’re not alone. you’re in my thoughts. <3

  21. I cried when I read this post. I can’t even imagine how you must feel. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  22. I often feel liked the most loved person in the entire world. Then I feel a twinge of guilt for those that do not know what that feels like. I am so happy to hear you feel supported and loved at this time. It is a miracle that you, as a family unit, have handled this so well… with such grace… and especially hope. Lots of love to you and yours. xoxo

  23. I really appreciate your honesty. I also see you as a strong woman. I am in the middle of Straight Up and Dirty and it comes across there too. It’s nice to hear that you have such a strong support system of others reaching out to help. I hope everything works out for the best! And there is nothing like a good matzo ball for some comfort good!

  24. A day later..what happened to my comment? Did the medical student respond with a flame war? Oy. I was just trying to be supportive.

    1. A flame war? Falsely accused. I have a lot of respect for both Stephanie and her readers.

  25. I don’t need to share my personal story to compare, but when people ask me “how do you do it?” I respond with the only answer I know: “How can I NOT do it?” I have no choice, but to wake up every day, put my feet on the floor and move forward. I see that in you, making everything OK for everybody, storing up those reserves for when you might really have to call upon them. Mostly just want to say: I relate.


  26. As someone who is battling breast cancer, I can feel your pain and fear. My life has become a living cliche. Be present, appreciate every day, live life to the fullest, and don’t sweat the small stuff. From someone who has been caretaker of the universe, people reach out and appear in your life when you need them the most. There is no shelf life for compassion. Everyone who is there for you, wants to be. So just accept it and bask in the love. You are a beautiful family and I wish you all the best.

  27. Hang in there Stephanie. Miss Abigail’s impeccable seder table manners made me smile. You too, I’m sure!

  28. Hi Stephanie, I’m sorry that you have to deal with all of this. It’s hard. My Mom is feeling the same way that you’re feeling, as my Dad is dealing with a similar condition. It’s good that you made a friend nice enough to include you in family events. That’s important for you and for the kids to enjoy traditions without the grandparents close by.

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