Monday, July 24, 2006

Judy, Judy, Judy

Sorry for the dearth of dealing with trying to figure out what my body is trying to tell me (more on that later, as events warrant, but nothing to worry about) and dealing with the very serious illness of a friend.

Judy's one of those really vibrant people some of us are lucky enough to have in our lives. She's distinct and vivid and all the way there in my life. There's nothing halfway about Judy. She can rub my nerves raw, and having her as my friend and having her as my client is sometimes a demanding proposition. She runs a successful business, and was one of my first freelance clients, long ago. I thought maybe she was tossing me some work to be nice, because she's known my dad forever--but she's become quite an important client for me.

Judy's got strong, loud opinions about things, but they aren't narrow minded or mean...and she's willing to listen, which is more than I can say for a lot of people. I've had blow-ups with Judy, which is very rare, as I avoid conflict with almost everyone. I don't know how or why I've been able to have, um, rather vigorous discussions with her, when I have almost never been able to raise my voice to another person (well, except my parents when I was a teenager, perhaps, and even then, very rarely). Maybe because I know she can take it. Maybe I just instinctively know that we can air our differences and she will love me anyway. Judy is quick and clever and creative. She was a trained graphic designer before the computer age, and we have lively dialog about what's "right" and "wrong" and "done" and "not done" from a design perspective. It ain't easy being a graphic designer for a graphic designer. She's a hell of a businesswoman, and lots of fun to go out on the town with. Judy lives life all the way out loud.

She has helped me in my slow process to live my life out loud, both by example and by her stalwart friendship.

Judy's been battling breast cancer for the past couple of years. For the second time. Yeah. She's that strong. Well, July 8, she had a seizure, out of the blue. They did some scans, and found a small shadow on the right side of her head. More cancer. So, on July 17, they went in. It was bigger than they thought. They hope they got it all. They aren't sure. Somehow, during the surgery, her entire left side became paralyzed. Right now, she's in ICU with brain swelling.

I found out all this finally, because I e-mailed her assistant, complaining that I was still waiting for some instruction on a project I was doing for Judy. Nothing quite like that return e-mail to take the wind and indignant huffing and puffing right out of my sails.

They're hoping the paralysis will go away when the swelling goes down. They're hoping she will make a full recovery. They're hoping she won't have to go through much radiation this time (her third or fourth time).

I want to help, but I don't know what to do. I'm half a world away, for God's sake. And I have to keep telling myself, this is not about me. It's about Judy. I want to help. And I can't.

Ok, so where's the damn joy?

Judy's a fighter. She's mad as hell that she's paralyzed, and that they won't let her get out of the bed. She's got a business to run. A husband to love. A brand new, gorgeous granddaughter to snuggle. (Umm...probably not in that order.) And a friend, over here in Japan, who loves her.

Judy inspires me. Her optimism, her fight, her drive, her great bursts of laughter, her zaniness (yes, she is the one person I know who is truly the embodiment of "zany!"), her lucky I am to know her. She's brought me so much damn joy.

Get well soon, Judy. We've got a project to fight about.