A week ago today, I got news that Louise (I call her Luiga), the mother of one of my closest friends, Andrea Ketcham, had suffered a massive stroke. Now, I love my friend, and I love her mother too. We’ve grown very close to this family over the years. We attend every party we are invited to (including Thanksgiving!) we enjoy their wonderful musical generosity, one of the sons taught Maki guitar for the past two years, and Justine spent an afternoon with Andrea every week of Pre-K.
It has been tough watching my friend go through this with her mom. It’s still early days, so there is little knowing of how her recovery will be…or even start. Right now, she is at Kaiser Hospital in Anaheim, mostly unconscious, but moaning in pain for the blood on her brain. Andrea was one of the people who taught me how to respond to close friends who have a loved one in the hospital: GO TO THEM! Even if they don’t seem to need that right away. Do it anyway. It’s such an opportunity be a part of the most real thing in their lives. If they don’t want you there, find another way to get your love to them.
Andrea probably didn’t need me. Nor did Luiga. They’ve got a big loving Italian family of their own. But this is the first time since my own journey into the world of hospitals and the like that someone in my most inner-circle has experienced a major catastrophe. (It takes a lot to count as a catastrophe in my book. Thankfully, its rare.) And when Andrea used to show up and clean/reorganize my house or even in early days, when she would feed me an express Nespresso on my way to the hospital, if I only stopped at her house for five minutes, I used to think: “How are people so good at this? How do they know what to do? OH! I get it, these are the ones who have been here themselves. They aren’t afraid of hospitals. They know what it means to receive help and hugs whilst in the thick of shock and fear.”
I was dying to get up to Andrea and her mom. I love them. I am so upset that this has happened, but of course I knew Andrea could take care of the situation. It’s something she is so good at…even its sad that that ability has come with practice. She’s got lots of experience with hospitals—it’s not a gift you wish on people. But how blessed is Luiga that her daughter has it?
The thing about Louise (Luiga) is that even unconscious and uncomfortable, she still looks elegant and beautiful. She’s 73, loves cooking and salsa dancing, newly dating a handsome widowed gentleman, and madly in love after a long single life. I had a long conversation in the cafeteria, while the family was talking to the doctor bedside. It’s certainly not what anyone expected, but is it ever? It’s all so heartbreakingly heavy. This is the most vivacious and independent 73 year old in the world. And then a stroke!
But there is hope always. She needs our prayers big time, right now. I know they worked for Vernon so I’m believing for Luiga too. It’s hard to watch someone so close go through a similar journey. Lots of love and life left in this lady.
So… here’s an introduction to Luiga! (Louise!) May she come back strong and lively as ever! Till then, I’ll be craving her bruschetta.