Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I don't know what to do about the trees.

I'm actually a little angry at them.

Damn. Damn. Trees.

You see for the past 'forever' they've been beautifying Bloor Street down in my part of town. They've been advertising 'forever' about putting in trees and tree houses. Well, the warm weather is here and today, when leaving the mall, I saw the first tree planted on the street. There were several locals around and a few applauded the arrival of our leafy neighbours. I didn't applaud.

I'm not anti tree.

I love trees.

But then, so does Tessa. We've often waxed poetic about how green, for a big city, Toronto was. We each live on the same floor of a huge high rise - but our floor is low enough for us both to see trees growing out our windows. She to the north. We to the south. We've been anticipating the trees for a very long time. And now they are here.

But Tessa doesn't live here anymore.

Yes, her apartment is still across the hall. Yes, it's still full of her stuff. But no, the cat is gone and the place is quiet. We never hear faint strains of classical music, or smell the smoke of another burned meal, no, not any more.

We arrived in New York knowing that Tessa had a doctor's appointment and that she was experiencing a lot of pain. Everyone, Tessa included, thought that it was another step in the journey she was on, but just a step. It wasn't. We were called early on Tuesday morning by Tessa, who keeps the same weird hours we do, to be told that there were serious complications and that she had, perhaps, three days left. She wanted to say goodbye in person - thinking that we'd not see her. But doctor's are terrible at predicting life, or maybe, the strength of life, left in someone. She's still here.

On Friday, before I fell desperately ill, we made it down to the palliative care unit and found her surrounded by flowers and cards and evidence of a long line of visitors. We chatted. She wanted to talk about her absence from the routines and rituals of our lives as friends. We didn't. But we did. I, like everyone else, have a cultural aversion to talk of death, even when surrounded by it. However, it's her conversation to have, and she should have it. It was, after begun, kind of freeing to be able to speak of the unspeakable. But gradually as things do, she moved on to topics of greater concern. Like the butt on the guy who does physio. "The old girl's not dead yet,' she stated after a lusty laugh.

I have not visited with Joe over the last few days. I think bringing an illness into a palliative care unit to be a tad, um, selfish. However, I feel like I can go tomorrow. I'm still weak. I'm still recovering. But I'm better. And I want to go visit my friend. I had the visit all planned.


I saw the trees.

Trees that Tessa will never live to see.

Trees that we've talked about.

Trees that we've waited for.

Damn, damn, trees.

Do I tell her about the trees? Will it make her happy to know that her beloved neighbourhood has welcomed these new residents? Will it make her desperately sad that she will never see the trees that she has waited for? Will she want to know? Would she rather simply not? Life goes on. She knows that. But so quickly?


I'm really, really angry at the trees.


Kristin said...

I'm so sorry Dave. I can tell from the way you talk about her how important Tessa is to you two. Tell her someone down in NC is saying a prayer for her.

theknapper@hotmail.com said...

Sending prayers to all of you. I have enjoyed getting to know Tessa thru your blog.She's an amazing woman.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

dont know how you manage, but I always feel very emotional after I read your posts.

Sometimes thougthful, sometimes happy, sometimes very very sad.

From my place in this world (living with a congenital heart disease) I know about living longer than usual and dying sooner than expected.

I know how hard it is to loose close friends. (I lost one of my best friends two years ago. She was younger than me, had a congenital heart disease too and was pregnant.) I will always think of her when I see someone pregnant during the day or carrying a baby...

Hope you can see Tessa today or tomorrow. Share laughter and pain.

I guess thats what life is all about.

Now I will think of Tessa too.

Take care
Julia from Germany

Anonymous said...

Take her some pictures of the trees....I know she'll like that!

Praying for her in Dublin, Ireland.
Tell he I said I have enjoyed reading about her on your blog since you moved into the city.
She is one sassy lady!

Take care of yourselves, Dave and Joe
Love Linda ( LinMac)

Anonymous said...

Glory be to Thee, O Lord my God! I beg of Thee by Thy Name through which He Who is Thy Beauty hath been stablished upon the throne of Thy Cause, and by Thy Name through which Thou changest all things, and gatherest together all things, and callest to account all things, and rewardest all things, and preservest all things, and sustainest all things -- I beg of Thee to guard this handmaiden who hath fled for refuge to Thee, and hath sought the shelter of Him in Whom Thou Thyself art manifest, and hath put her whole trust and confidence in Thee.

She is sick, O my God, and hath entered beneath the shadow of the Tree of Thy healing; afflicted, and hath fled to the City of Thy protection; diseased, and hath sought the Fountain-Head of Thy favors; sorely vexed, and hath hasted to attain the Well-Spring of Thy tranquillity . . .

Attire her, by Thy sovereignty and Thy loving-kindness, O my God and my Beloved, with the raiment of Thy balm and Thy healing, and make her quaff of the cup of Thy mercy and Thy favors. Protect her, moreover, from every affliction and ailment, from all pain and sickness, and from whatsoever may be abhorrent unto Thee.

Thou, in truth, art immensely exalted above all else except Thyself. Thou art, verily, the Healer, the All-Sufficing, the Preserver, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Add me to the list of people who send prayers for Tessa and who have enjoyed getting to know her through your blog.
It is good to see that you are recovering, Dave, but I am sorry it is to such distressing circumstances. Embrace the trees Dave - they are life that will continue after most of us have moved on - a link really - an appreciation that you share with your dear friend.

Pat said...

I'm so sorry. I will be praying for all of you. I think the idea of pictures of the trees is a good one. That way you will still be able to enjoy them together.

Wendy said...

I'm sorry, Dave. Your stories of Tessa's humour, strength and determination have been an inspiration and I know she means alot to you and Joe. I will be thinking about all three of you.

Belinda said...

It's very hard. I'm so sorry that this long awaited spring is not being enjoyed to the full by Tessa and that there is a sadness in the joyous rebirth that we are celebrating.

Andrea S. said...

Sorry this has happened. Tell Tessa the thoughts of your readers are with her.

theknapper said...

At this point what is most important is her connection with you and Joe. A friend of mine quoted a German philospher who said parting is the most intense form of human contact. Keeping you all in my thoughts.

clairesmum said...

prayers for peace ascending.

coffeetalk said...

Tell her about the trees. Prayers are still going up for you, Dave and Joe, as well as Tessa. Tell her about the trees. It will make her smile.

Maggie said...

Many Blessings to Tessa for ease and grace on her journey. Many Blessings to you and Joe for ease and grace on yours.

I am delighted to hear you are feeling better, sad to hear you have been too sick to do things you wanted to do, glad to hear of the trees, sorry for their timing, glad to hear you have been able to see Tessa, sorry she's not in the home she loves.

Life, in all its beauty, is still life, after all.

Please know you all are so loved.

liz said...

Sending love to you and to Tessa. Please let her know that people all over the world are thinking of her.

And yes, bring pictures of the trees.

Liz (in Virginia, US)

kitten said...

i've gone that road with someone, the palliative care, the long talks, watching him let go gradually, and officially giving him my blessing to let go and move on rather than stay in a broken body.

i'm glad you let her have the conversation *she* wanted to have, rather than yours. and i think you're right not to bring illness onto that hospital ward, thank you for that, some people dont think of it.

take her a photo of the trees, and tell her how mad you were that the trees are going to be there and she isnt. she knows you love her.

Anonymous said...

Show her a picture of the trees. Then tell her you will think of her everytime you look at them, not with sadness, but joy for having known her. Tessa will live on in your heart.

Faery said...

Hi Dave,

I know how difficult times like this can be. I enjoy reading about Tessa, my little girl is also called Tessa and if she grows up to be half as funny and spirited as your Tessa I'll be very happy. Whatever happens Dave, I hope you all have peace. You're all in my thoughts and prayers.

With regards to trees though, is it worth getting in touch with the tree people and see if they can plant one especially for Tessa?

Laura said...

Oh dave I am so sorry to hear of Tessa's continuing struggle. Being that I use a scooter I so often identify with the stories about her and the 3 of you doing things together. I am very pleased to hear however that she is entering this journey as she has lived the the rest of her life on her own terms
Prayers and love to all of your from PA

lexica510 said...

Oh, Dave — very much sympathy. Best wishes to Tessa. May her passing be smooth and may she know at all times how surrounded in love she is.

This was one of my mother's favorite poems, and has become one of mine (makes me weepy just about every time I read it). I think (I hope) that Tessa would want to hear about the trees...

"i thank you God for most this amazing..." by e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Shan said...

Dave and Joe, so sorry to hear of Tessa's progression. I have been off the internet for a week so I didn't know you were sick - I'm going to read backwards now, but I'll just say "Get Well Soon" and regarding Tessa, sit there and feel the bummer-ness of it all...do her the honour not to try to push it aside.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of Tessa, and you, and Joe, and wishing you all strength to bear what you are going through.
Losing people we love is so hard. And people who are leaving like Tessa is leaving are so brave. Love them so hard.
Kitten, you said it.

Janelle said...

I loved this post, depsite the heartbreak that I feel for you. Being angry at something when I'm hurting has helped me tremendously. I couldn't believe the audacity of the chrysanthemums to bloom while my nine-year-old brother died. That they should be vivid and joyful while he was fading and gone seemed so very wrong. I've come to love them now, Dave. They remind me of the autumn that broke my heart and that going through the hurt instead of just putting on a sunny face is necessary and helpful. You brought us Tessa and shared her with us. Now, let the trees bring you Tessa and share that spirit with your heart.

Brooke, Phoenix, Cessna, Aspen & Canyon said...

Hi Dave, I'm so sorry to hear about Tessa. It's been so wonderful to learn about her through your blog. It's hard to lose someone, but also hard to watch them fight to stay alive.

I'm with Faery and think you should try and contact the city to see if one of the trees could be planted in her honour or if maybe a plaque could be put in front of one of them that she would have seen through her window.

Noisyworld said...

Definitely take photos, you can ask her if she wants to see pictures, then she can make her own choice not one that's been forced on her.
I hope she lives as well as she has been regardless of the situation she's now in, please include me in all the thoughts and prayers sent her way :)
I hope you have the support you need to support her through this :)

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I realized after I commented that I told you to embrace the trees - that would make you a tree hugger :-) I thought you might appreciate the Freudian humour in that. Not to make light of the situation but I know that you and Joe and Tessa all love a good laugh.

Sending thoughts and prayers

Dave Hingsburger said...

thank you all for your comments and prayers - i'll keep you updated as I can

CJ said...

Tell her about the trees.

I'm very sorry about your impending loss.

Anonymous said...

Dave, about 36 hours ago, my beloved daughter died - essentially from her disability. She was 13. As you can imagine, I'm not catching up on the blogs I read! But here in NZ, in the middle of the night, waiting for the time that she'll briefly rejoing us at home, I was moved to read yours.
If Tessa is still alive, she'll want to know about the trees. If she's dead, and there's any way of knowing, she'll know anyway.
She sounds a woman of strop and grace, as was my daughter. My love to you both.

Lene Andersen said...

catching up on blogs and this... Well, there are no real words for how crap this is. Sending you hugs.