Whitley and I are always on a diet, and as I recommend in my diet book, we allow ourselves one treat a week–whatever we want. Often it’s the lemon cake with incredibly rich icing from our local bakery. If one of us doesn’t eat their piece fast enough, the other one sometimes eats (sneaks) bits off the other’s piece.
As Type II diabetic, I have to eat right the rest of the time, but I sometimes think that when it comes to having fun, we all get too rigid at times. We work hard for hours on end, then look up to find that the day is almost done and we’re STILL working. I think about a friend of ours who was in a hotel in Tokyo when the recent earthquake struck. He described swaying back and forth for hours, until he began to feel seasick. He was there on business, but if that had been the last day of his life, he wouldn’t have regretted missing the conference he was supposed to speak at, he would have regretted not having enough FUN in such an exciting city.
My life is a waiting game these days: Waiting to see if one of our movies will get made, waiting to see if our TV series will get picked up, waiting for Whitley to finish the book he’s writing on deadline so that he can start the book we’re writing together about my incredible near-death experience 6 years ago (and its aftermath of making me psychic for awhile–just when I needed to be). Waiting is hard work too–I need to figure out how to be a better "waiter."
Then I think about two gay friends of ours, who have been together for 17 years. One of them has just been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that develops in the protective lining of the lungs, abdomen, and the cavity around the heart. The actor Steve McQueen died from it, and this man hasn’t got long either. Like McQueen, he got the disease from working with asbestos while building ships in the Navy (both of our friends are ex-military, like all the gay men and women I know seem to be). One of them said to me, "I couldn’t believe it when he found out–I thought we were at least going to be together until he turned 80" (the sick friend is in his 60’s now). I thought to myself, "While a heterosexual couple with a tragedy like this might find themselves on the local news, nobody cries for guys like these."
Next my thoughts stray to our physician, a gay man himself, who treats mostly male patients. During my annual physical, his nurse told me about an NFL player who fainted while having his blood drawn, after first asking her if she couldn’t use a smaller needle. It made me feel brave when it was my turn! Our doctor sees many patients with AIDS, and he once told me that one of them gave him some great advice about how to live: "Eat dessert first."
That brings me full circle to the lemon cake, which in a way is a metaphor for life–both sweet and sour at the same time. I have a full schedule of waiting and working on my plate today and after I finish up my slice (and lick the icing off the fork), I’m going to make sure to have some fun, so that I can go to bed with a smile tonight and wake up tomorrow happy to still be alive.