Sylvia

Some of you will remember a post I wrote last summer, when Ana was traveling the globe and I sat at home on our deck in central Massachusetts, eating good meals and watching the garden with Ana’s mom, Sylvia. The post was about a story Sylvia told me one evening, about one of her early experiences as a nurse. I say “Some of you will remember” because that one post got more comments from you than any single post I’d written since I posted our wedding pictures the previous summer! In fact, here is Sylvia on that particularly auspicious day: So, I wanted to give you all an update on Sylvia and how she’s doing this holiday season. A few weeks before Christmas, she fell ill and went into the hospital. Surgery followed, which went swimmingly, and so did convalescence—for a few days. Then complications ensued, requiring a second surgery a short week after the first. This second operation was tough, and the docs were glum about her prospects. We got quite a circle of friends sending her prayers, fond thoughts and good vibes. Amazingly, she blew away everyone’s projections and came through operation #2 with flying colors, albeit recovery has been excruciatingly slow. As I write, she is in the ICU, recovering her health and strength by inches, every increment a cause for celebration for her assembled family (that’s Ana, Kaia and me here at her home in Florida). For a few days following the second operation, she had a breathing tube in her throat and couldn’t talk. One day, she seemed to be urgently trying to say...

Exit the Lightning Bug

What a feeling: elation, exuberance, exhilaration! For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a chapter. One chapter. I mean, one chapter, for weeks — that’s plural, more than one, weeks! Here’s what happened. I’m working on a book on leadership, working with a major author who has held White House positions and Harvard directorships and all sorts of major stuff and such. The finished draft was due this fall; we finished the finished draft. Met with the editor, a wonderful and brilliant man, with whom I’ve worked before and I trust implicitly and totally. He liked the manuscript, liked it a lot — but Chapter 1 had to go. Part of it worked, but the truth was, we pretty much needed to scrap it and write a new Chapter 1. He was absolutely right: we did. So we started. But the thing would not cooperate. For the last few weeks, I’ve been applying myself to an exercise that has felt very much like what it must feel like to be an ant taking a stroll and suddenly finding oneself hip-deep in a tureen of molasses. Toward the end of the day, Ana would call down to my office: “How’s it going?” she would say, cheerily, encouragingly, believing-in-me-utterlyly. “Good,” I would reply—most unconvincingly. At dinner I would tell the truth: “I made progress … I think. But progress measured in inches.” And what I needed, as we both knew, was progress not in inches, not in yards, but in miles. So every day, a few more inches. And then last night, something wild happened: miles. It started to...