Friday, March 19, 2010

Katerina and Me...


Russians Sergei Grinkov, 28, and Katerina Gordeeva, 24, were an unbeatable Olympic pairs skating team in the 80’s and 90’s. They eventually fell in love, married, and had a baby girl, Daria. Daria was only 3 years old when Sergei, in the middle of a routine skating practice, suffered a severe heart attack and died instantly. In an interview shortly after this horrible tragedy, Katerina said she should have known that something bad was going to happen. She said life had been too perfect and happy for it to have ever lasted.

I don’t pretend that my story is in any way comparable to what Katerina endured, but the image of that tearful interview over a decade ago came racing back to me at the end of the day on March 19th, The Worst Day Ever.

Like Katerina, my life is really perfect. I’m married to a man whom I love more intensely with every passing day. We own pets that induce nothing but joyous contentment. Although my job won’t win me any Tony Awards, it’s perfectly suited for my “repetition-is-comfort” and “set-schedule” personality, allowing me to work with talented, funny people I truly enjoy. Long before March 19th, Alan and I would frequently gaze at each other over a couple of beers being enjoyed on our pool deck and agree, “We’re so blessed.”

The day started a bit off my regular schedule. I was training two new girls in my role that evening, so I didn’t have to be at work until after noon. I still woke up early and got my run out of the way so I could enjoy a few hours reading my book and relaxing before I had to leave.

Alan’s boss called while I was on the couch with Trixie and my book. They spoke only a few minutes before his boss got called away and told Alan he’d call right back. Alan hung up and joked, “Well, I guess I’m not getting fired today!” However, when the phone rang again, Alan took the phone in his office and closed the door. I wasn’t paying attention until I distinctly heard Alan saying something about “turning in his laptop.” My blood went cold. No way. There’s no way. I got up and poked my head in, and when Alan saw me he tipped the receiver away from his mouth and casually said, “I’m being let go – it’s OK though. Really. Don’t worry – it’s OK.” It must be exhausting to have to be that brave all the time. I knew he was being cheery for my sake, I knew this had to hurt deeply. My reaction was anger. What IDIOTS! Alan is brilliant. Inconceivable.

I drove to work in silence. The radio seemed too invasive, too loud. I spent the fifty-minute drive trying to prepare myself for change. I wasn’t worried about Alan getting another job, I knew he was a stud and would be snatched-up immediately. But we both knew that at his level, area manager, it would probably require relocating. I prayed out-loud as I drove, reminding God how much I feared change and how much Alan and I loved our life in Florida. I asked for His guidance and help in dealing with where He was leading us.

I told a few people at work about our situation, but soon I was doing shows and focusing on training, pushing it all to the back of my mind. After several shows, I checked my phone and listened to two frantic messages from Alan. Call Dr. Dobradin. The surgeon? I was going to see him in a few days – why call? But I called. He’s with a patient, can he call me right back? Why couldn’t the nurse just tell me what’s going on? It didn’t sound very encouraging. But, I had the next show to do, I’d have to call back after that.
 


I tried to focus during the show, but I felt like a zombie. When I got offstage, I sprinted back upstairs to the Kimberley “booth” to call the doc again. He was on the other line. Crap! Would I like to hold? Yes. Sigh. The booth that Kimberley (my stage character) sits in backstage is literally the size of a small closet. There’s one bare bulb that weakly illuminates the black walls and one chair. At best, it would be described as “bleak.” I’ve never really minded it before, but as I sat there, on hold, staring ant those depressing black walls, they appeared to be closing in on me.

Just then my friend, our head tech Richie walked by. Boy, was I glad to see him. His happy expression dropped when he looked at me. I blurted out something incoherent like, “Surgeon…called...I’m on hold.” Somehow he understood and quickly stepped into that tiny booth and grabbed my hand. Dr. Dobradin’s words, spoken in his thick Polish accent, were, “Well, the third time’s a charm. We finally figured out what’s wrong with you. The lab work came back positive for lymphoma.” Did I mention Doc Dobradin has the worst bedside manner of anyone in the entire medical profession? He said more, something about how I’d be seeing him again to get something called a “port” surgically inserted for my chemotherapy (!!!), but I had stopped listening by then.

Richie hugged me then went searching for Kleenex as I dialed Alan. I think his response to my news was, “You’re kidding.” It seemed too unbelievable. Then he told me to come home. But I had training! It never occurred to me that my boss would probably excuse me. Once again, in the T2 office, I explained the situation in fragmented sentences and told them I had to go. They couldn’t have been nicer. Ironically, my fellow cast members later told me that when they saw me abruptly and tearfully leaving, they thought it was because I was still upset about Alan’s bad news.

Alan met me at the door when I arrived home. He was so strong and calm. As we held onto each other, he gently said, “When this is all over, we’re going to write a book together about today. We’re going to call it, “Worst Day Ever.”

Katerina Gordeeva went on to perform solo in the “Stars on Ice” tours and eventually married and had a baby girl with another fellow skater. She landed several endorsement deals, launched her own fragrance line, and published two books, one of them in memory of her late husband. She says her greatest joy is the time she spends in her kitchen cooking with her two daughters. I don’t know her personally, but I bet if you were to ask her, she’d tell you that her life is pretty perfect, despite all that happened.
 


The single thought on my mind as I drove home to Alan that day was that my blessings had officially run out. I had somehow drained my lifetime’s allotment of happiness in a mere 43 years – now it would be all about hardship and disease. But in truth, Worst Day Ever has only served as a giant magnifier for the abundance of blessings still being bestowed. In the days that followed, Alan got an offer for an awesome job right here in Orlando in which he continues to thrive. After more tests and scans, we learned my lymphoma is low-grade, I’m not going to die and I am probably not even going to lose my hair when and if chemo is required. Sure, I still have some “poor me” days, but they always seem to get upstaged by the unavoidable positives; my creative and hilarious husband who diligently keeps up this amazing blog, my friends and family who’s collective prayer power could crumble walls, and a loving Almighty Father who is in complete control. Now if I could just win big on the penny slots…

So, sorry Worst Day Ever, you have no power here…..

38 comments:

starnes family said...

One of the best posts I've read in years. Thank you!

The Warrior in ME said...

I love you, you know that? I gasped as i read and my breathing literally was on hold, the hair on my head standing though i knew worst day ever is history now and that you celebrate it.

Just thinking abundance and praying can do so much, i realize yet again.

Plenty of hugs to Alan and You.

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Wow, thanks. That's such a powerful and uplifting story. Thank you so very much for sharing it xxx

Eva Gallant said...

Wow! Talk about ups and downs and ups! Glad your post ends on an up note! I wish you well!

Shan said...

Phew! Of course it was beautifully written, but it was tough to get through.

Helena said...
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Rachel said...

You had me at the title (I *loved* Ekaterina!) and I am so very glad for your outlook. It's funny what some distance can do for your perspective, eh?

In a few weeks, it will be exactly 30 years since I lost my hearing - and I really don't know what I'd change about my life now.

We truly are blessed, my friend!

Being Me said...

And I've just breathed out so hard my laptop screen actually flapped a little.

I'm... I'm actually not quite sure what to say! I want to congratulate you? but not sure if that's appropriate?!? Very good news about the job, and I am so relieved you are not facing a bigger battle with the lymphoma, my new friend. Very very glad.

Kakka said...

Hugs, thank you for sharing. Your positive spirit, the love of Alan and family are great gifts. May you continue to be well and find the time to blog so that we here in cyberspace can continue to be graced by your presence. xxx

***Amy*** said...

You wrote so well about the feeling of a husband loosing his job. My husband lost his last year, three days after I'd resigned my position and decided to become a full time SAHM to our seven month old son. It was such a scary, out of control time.

I can't imagine finding out that news from your doctor straight afterwards.

Thanks for sharing, and all the very very best of luck for your spectacular future.

Melissa said...

Worst. Day. Ever. Poo to that. Days like that should just bugger off. You however are elegant in the face of such a day. Go you.

Matthew said...
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Kathleen said...

Thanks for sharing this again. I've been sharing the story of The Worst Day Ever with friends this week as I have rejoiced with you on this anniversary. Your story is too good not to be told. I told my daughter the other day about how you continue to kick cancer's butt. She said, "I didn't know cancer had a butt." I said, "It doesn't any more, because Joan Donnelly-Emery kicked it!"

Matthew said...

I am pleased that you have rendered Worst Day Ever powerless. More power to YOU. :)

Kaloula said...

I agree with everyone else. Your positive attitude was just what I needed on this grumpy morning, thank you!

Debbie said...

What an uplifting story. Which proves the God is NEVER late. He is always on time.

citymouse said...

Awesome post! I love that you focus on the positive. Life can be ugly sometimes but we don't have to let it define who we are. Congratulations on your ongoing victory.

SM said...

never.a.worst.day.ever!

great post AGAIN!

I can't come up with such great stuff. I have to start doing something with my life other than work and drive kids around haha.

I love how positive you are and it's inspirational...also it makes me smile, and that is a big deal. To me.

lifeshighway said...

I feel such positive energy from your victory and your outlook on life. Keep writing and keep winning. The best thing about a worse day, is that there is only one way to go from there, you didn't just get back up you flew.

eventer79 said...

I enjoy reading your stories! Not too be picky, but do you think you could make your font a bit bigger?

Jaime said...

sounds like you've got the right attitude.

Bossy Betty said...

Oh, you've already won that lottery, baby! Loved this post and your attitude too!

Krista said...

Your story is so inspirational. It gives me hope! I hope you're having a wonderful time in Vegas... :o) xo

Lynne said...

Loved this post. I was obsessed with Ekaterina and her heartbreaking loss of Sergei...even read her book "My Sergei."

I read a memoir called Notes Left Behind where the author said, "Never think today is a bad day, because tomorrow could be worse." Hard to believe sometimes, but it's true.

Thanks for sharing your uplifting story. You've made a lot of people smile today.

50centlove said...

Teary eyed and got chills. Love your story.

Getting My Words Out said...

Been thinking about you today--your Worst Day Ever is Dwayne's birthday so it's easy for me to remember. Have a great time!!
:D

Sir Thomas AKA (Winters Reaper) said...

you have the power...

go go power ranger...

ReformingGeek said...

I'm so glad you kicked Worst-Day-Ever in the ASS!

What an awesome post!

Katie said...

I came to thank you for commenting about my posts about little Ivanna, and now I am speechless... You are one tough cookie and even though I don't know you, I am proud of you for weathering that day so well. Worst day ever is RIGHT! Great post.

Momma Fargo said...

Hey, trying to make your day better by showering you with an award. Congratulations. It is on my site. I like the last pic on your post BTW...way cool.

Sarah said...

Oh you poor love.

It poured and then it chucked a hurricane at you.

Listen you don't know me from Adam, but if I have one "talent" it is my sturdy waterproof shoulders, an ear that stays open and a mouth that stays shut rather than feed you advice you have heard a thousand time from people who have no idea of what you are going through.

You ever need to unload, take time out from being positive, shout, weep and scream at the sheer unfairness and the double whammy with knobs on aspect...

..I'm your woman.

Big, fat, huge, ginormous hug.

Sarah (in Italy)

Kristin said...

You lady...are an INSPIRATION. To hear you write about your struggles with such a positive vibe gives me renewed energy to meet what we've got going on right now head on. Thank you. Rock on with your bad self!!!

Louise | Italy said...

I'm new to your blog, but in this post I instantly can see your courage, your love for your husband, and your faith. God bless.

Leeuna said...

What a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring story! I am so happy that everything turned out well for you both in the end. May you always be blessed.

Elle said...

What an amazing post! Your strength in the face of adversity is absolutely inspiring.

Low Expectations said...

Fantastic post! I loved every part if it!

m e l i g r o s a said...

powerful. my mom read i think that katehrina had, or followed every interview.
and you post, even more powerful. keep writing these beautiful strenght pieces - my heart is touched :D

...Mrs.P! said...

What an amazing post! I had the biggest lump ever in my throat while reading that. You and your husband are an amazing example of strength, faith and courage. If only everyone could have an attitude such as yours. It reminds me so much of my Grandmother's, the most amazing lady I ever knew.
Glad to hear you had a lovely time away.
Much love,
Mrs.P

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