Dear Life,

I’m sorry for yelling “Fuck you” at you yesterday. I shouldn’t have reacted with such anger — but really, my sweet yellow dog? I’m still on edge waiting for Bobby’s diagnosis and now you throw a similar potential cancer diagnosis at Sandy? Overnight? You know what a loyal, mostly trouble-free dog she’s been — why would you punish her this way? I’d barely arrived before I had to leave Bobby at the hospital so I could rush Sandy to the ER vet. Chelsea was terrified she had the bloat and therefore only a few hours to live. She didn’t, thank you, but did I need to witness yet another creature I love being poked, prodded, X-rayed and IV’d? Sandy looked at me with those glistening brown eyes as the vet tech inserted the needle; I was reminded of Chelsea and Kaylee’s stints in the hospital as infants. That expression of “How could you let this happen to me?” and me, helpless to explain.

I mean, haven’t we done this particular lesson enough?

First Chelsea with the croup at six months old, five days at St. Mary’s in Long Beach. We woke to that seal sound, rushed her to one ER, where the admitting clerks turned us away because our insurance wouldn’t cover us there. Two a.m. and we’re bouncing from one hospital to the next, our baby barking without pause in her car seat.

Then Kaylee, dehydrated at four months, five days in L.A.’s Children’s Hospital. As if living with my psycho mother-in-law — yes, thanks for that lesson, life — wasn’t enough punishment in itself, she wouldn’t run the air conditioner despite the temps being in the 100s. Tiny Kaylee sweat so much she lost four of her 10 lbs. in a day. Was sick. After a worried visit, where they poked her with a needle, taking blood from her oh-so-small arm, the doctor called. Rush her to L.A.,she said.

And Nick! Flown to UCSF with ketoacidosis. Type 1 diabetes. Another five-day stay. This wasn’t enough for you, life? Let’s not forget, these are just the high- (low-) lights. You’ve never failed to drop stumbling blocks along the way.

Part of me still reels from when my parents split up in ’86.

You mocked me through every form of birth control I used, gave me these children I love more than anything in the world, then mocked me further by breaking my promise to them that I would always protect them — instead I had to turn them over to the mercy of the doctors and nurses in hopes they would heal them.

Yet I still believed in you, loved you. The good luck rolled in with the bad; you forced me to work hard, but rewards followed. We landed in Humboldt County, land of ocean, trees and fog, a magic place where evidence of you, life, bursts forth in forests, dunes and sea. I still catch my breath every time a red-tailed hawk swoops past during my drive from Manila. Hawks, osprey, bears, elk, dolphins, whales… the very pulse of the earth beats through the wildness. You nudged me into this home on the sand, allowed the children the chance to grow up next to the Pacific (all I ever truly wanted), gave Sandy the best backyard ever. You convinced me to return to school, to outgrow my shyness and in return provided smart and sexy friends, creative opportunities and small ways in which I could make a happy difference for others.

I thought we’d reached an understanding.

But then this thing with Bobby. Why him? Why not me? What have I done to have to watch those I love suffer when I’d be so willing to do the suffering instead? Granted, silver lines even this darkness: those aforementioned friends have proven to be a safety net woven strong with love; with time to talk and much to fear, Bobby and I cut through a great deal of bullshit (22 years together will do that sometimes) to reconfirm how much we love each other, how connected we are, how determined we are to continue striving toward a joyful life together. So, thanks for that.

Please let today’s diagnosis be treatable infection. Please let Bobby come home and heal so we can get on with it.


And please let Sandy be okay, too. Don’t punish her for our sins. She’s precious and deserves a peaceful old age.

I’m really sorry I yelled at you yesterday. And thank you for always being so interesting — but maybe we could try boring for a bit? Just for a little while.