Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Life, the Universe, and the Unexpected

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Sometimes, life throws you something you really didn’t expect.

Take my good friend Jeff, for example.  About a month ago, he felt ill but had no idea what was going on; he was taken to the hospital, where he was found to have a massive infection.  He nearly died, as he had to have open-heart surgery due to the infection being too well-rooted in his heart (the antibiotics started to kill it everywhere else, but not in his heart); at the age of only forty-seven, he came way too close to death.

Fortunately, he has survived that.  And he sounds like he’s on the mend, though the road back from this is likely to be a long and difficult one.  But I have hope that he will fully recover, as his mind, voice, and most of his memories are intact.  (More about this below.)

A health crisis like this was completely unexpected — who would ever think something like this would happen?  And having gone through something like this, except worse, with my late husband’s Michael’s sudden passing seven years ago didn’t make this any easier from my perspective; I really wanted to be there for Jeff as I care very much about him, I wasn’t able to get there (he lives several states away), and he nearly died.

I’m very glad he survived.  (This is an extremely basic way to put it, of course, and I wish I had a better one.  But sometimes, the plainest words speak best.)   I will do whatever I can to help him in the difficult journey that lies ahead . . . wishing I had better words than this to explain what’s going on, but that’s the best I can do.

Jeff’s near-brush with death has shaken my own faith rather badly.  I realize that in no valid religion or spiritual practice will it ever say that good people should survive such terrible things; Michael didn’t survive, though he fought harder than anyone I’ve ever seen to do so, and he was by far the best person I have ever known.  (I’m sure he went to the Good Place (TM), too, or wherever it is wonderful people go after this life ends.)  But for Jeff to first suffer the vagaries of this horrible economy, then have this happen to him and me having no way to get to him to even try to help, seems to add insult to injury.  (Not to me.  To my friend.)  And that he’s going to have to work like the dickens just to get back to where he was . . . well, that he has the chance to do so is what I’d prayed for, so I’m glad of that.  But it seems . . . unjust, at best.

Of course, no one ever promised that life would be fair, even to good people like my friend.  But does life have to be this unfair? 

I know, I know.  We don’t have all the answers.  Sometimes we can’t even ask the right questions.  Being able to persevere is what makes the difference, to my mind, between a successful person and an unsuccessful one.  And I know Jeff will persevere, because I view him as a successful person (I always have), no matter what’s going on all around him externally.

Jeff’s mind has returned to him, thankfully, but not all of his memories have.  I’m happy he remembered I am a saxophonist; when I told him that I’ve been playing, and am now in a symphonic band, he was very congratulatory and he meant it.  But he’s forgotten all about his favorite of my unfinished novels, CHANGING FACES — the one I’m working on for NaNo right now — though he remembers the Elfyverse (the completed and looking for a home novel ELFY, the in-progress AN ELFY ABROAD and the prequel, KEISHA’S VOW), which I found out when I mentioned the latter novel.  

When I told him that he’s been asking me for the past two-plus years to please finish CHANGING FACES and be done with it, I got no reaction from him; then I explained how long I’ve been working on it, and that I’d written 6000-plus words into chapter 20 and have 600-plus in chapter 21 after it being stalled out for nearly one and a half years.  He recognized that as an achievement, and congratulated me on it, but it didn’t really mean much to him because he can’t remember the plotline, at all.

That the main reason I started working on CHANGING FACES as my NaNo project is because I wanted to do something, no matter how tangential, that I felt Jeff would appreciate as my way to honor him and what he was going through.  Maybe it sounds silly that this was my motivation for re-opening this MSS, but there it is. 

I wanted to write something that I felt Jeff would like to read down the road, when he’s again capable of reading well (right now, he isn’t, and this is a skill he’ll have to work hard to regain).  So writing this newest chapter of CHANGING FACES was my way to express to my friend Jeff, without words, “I believe you have a future, and I want you to read this in that future.”  But I wasn’t able to explain this well to him tonight.  At all.  (Though of course I’ll try again tomorrow, providing I’m able to reach him.)

Jeff is a very spiritual person, with a strong grasp of what’s going on in this world; to my mind, he nearly personifies the phrase “down to Earth.”  He’s an intelligent, funny, interesting person with a great many gifts and talents, who’s been hampered by a pitiful economy and a less than stellar personal situation that was all of a sudden made much worse due to his health crisis.  Jeff is a writer, a Webmaster, and is very hard-working in his own idiosyncratic way; I’m very grateful that he’s doing so much better, and I believe his strong will and deep faith will sustain him over time.

All that being said, I wish this hadn’t happened to him.  Because he truly doesn’t deserve it.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

November 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm

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  1. […] Life, the Universe, and the Unexpected […]


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