Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that Mrs. T’s chronic illness has put us through the wringer of late. Among other things, she spent two weeks in a Connecticut hospital in November (we ate our Thanksgiving dinner there). Since then, we’ve shuttled between Connecticut, New York, and Philadelphia, seeing doctors, going to occasional shows, and generally doing our damnedest to keep our heads as far above water as possible.
Alas, Mrs. T blew a pair of gaskets on the night after Christmas. The first one, a middle-of-the-night gall-bladder attack, forced us to drive to the emergency room of the smallish hospital one town over from our place in Connecticut. Then, a few short hours after the ER doctors there got her pain (which was appalling) under control and sent us back home to rest up, she suddenly and unexpectedly went into what is known in polite parlance as a respiratory crisis.
Not to put too fine a point on it, I nearly lost Mrs. T that afternoon. Fortunately for us both, I kept my cool and did the right things in the right order, and before long—though it seemed like a hell of a lot longer—she was resting more or less comfortably in the intensive-care unit of UConn Health Center’s John Dempsey Hospital. I’m sorry to say that she’s still in the hospital, but greatly relieved to be able to report that her condition is now stable and that she is slowly but surely improving.
Around the same time that all this was happening, ArtsJournal updated the system with which its bloggers, myself among them, make and edit their postings. Talk about lousy timing! Not only was I unable to take even a couple of hours off to master the new system, but I was far too busy to write any new postings, much less figure out how to encode them. I didn’t even have time to upload “teaser” postings for my Wall Street Journal drama and “Sightings” columns, or for the two December episodes of Three on the Aisle. It was all I could do to get the columns themselves written and filed and the podcasts taped and dropped.
It helped that I’d already uploaded a month’s worth of advance almanac entries and arts-related videos, all of which continued to be posted automatically during my inescapable absence from the blog. Everything else, though, went over the side so that I could look after Mrs. T while simultaneously hitting my magazine and newspaper deadlines. We weren’t able to put up a Christmas tree or exchange any presents, and it’s been a couple of weeks since I last saw any shows, in New York or anywhere else.
This is, as it happens, the second year in a row that God snickered at the elaborate holiday plans that Mrs. T and I had so painstakingly and proudly made. In 2017, we fully expected to spend Christmas on Florida’s Sanibel Island, something that we’ve both wanted to do for years. Instead, she was listed for a double lung transplant at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, meaning that we had to hang up our traveling shoes and wait for the Big Call.
We are, needless to say, still waiting, there not being nearly enough donor lungs to go around. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, though, that there are far worse fates. As I wrote in this space around this time last year:
I won’t try to tell you that we’re not disappointed to be up north instead of down south. Seven winters on Sanibel Island have accustomed the two of us to the snowbird’s life, and we’re still having a fair amount of trouble getting used to the fact that it’s always cold outside. On the other hand, we’re also profoundly grateful, not just on this particular day but on every single day of our lives. It doesn’t much matter where Mrs. T and I are, or what the weather is like: the important thing is that we’re together. What’s more, her doctors tell us that we have a reasonable chance of being together for many more years to come.
All this remains blessedly true.
As for the blog, I’m only just starting to get the hang of the new system. To that end, I hope (not plan!) to spend part of the coming week posting and tweeting teasers to the various columns and podcasts that came out while I was otherwise occupied. They aren’t as fresh as usual, but I hope you’ll still find them readable and listenable.
And now, if I may, please allow me to post, as is my custom, the Ogden Nash poem that I like to share on this date, followed by my customary end-of-the-year good wishes:
Come, children, gather round my knee;
Something is about to be.
Tonight’s December Thirty-First,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark! It’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year.
If, like me, you have a sneaking suspicion that chance is in the saddle and rides mankind, then I hope that the year to come treats you not unkindly, and that your lives, like mine, will be warmed by hope and filled with love—and if you feel otherwise, then I wish for you the very same thing. We all deserve to be loved on New Year’s Eve.
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Mitchell’s Christian Singers perform “Traveling Shoes” in New York in 1934: