December 6, 2015: A patch of peace and gratitude

A patch of peace and gratitude

Journal entry by Felicia Friesema


Overwhelming doesn’t quite cover it.  Your words, your generosity, your hopes and dreams and prayers and chants and everything in between have allowed us to grasp the first bit of peace we’ve had since the diagnosis.  We were afraid the announcement would be too much, too soon, and too heavy.  But it turns out it was exactly what was needed, for both you — our dear friends,family, colleagues, and Steve’s listeners — and for us.

We lived with this news for over a week and a half, sharing it only with a very small and close circle of friends and family.  The reason behind the secrecy was formed on the best of intentions – to protect the emotional well-being of a treasured family member who needed to be told about this with great care, gentleness, and love.  Once that was accomplished, we immediately set the announcement wheels in motion.  To those who honored our request for discretion, thank you.  That was a heavy burden to impose on you.

So how are we doing?

I had a major meltdown very early yesterday morning. I went outside (so as not to wake Steve) and screamed and sobbed at the universe. It was horrible but cathartic. I’m surprised no one called the cops as I’m pretty sure I sounded like a battered woman.  Nothing was held back.  It was wretched, extreme emotional release.  But needed.

That was followed by one of the most peaceful and calming days we’ve had since the diagnosis. Yesterday was the first time in two weeks we had no appointments, no visitors (save those angels who quietly dropped things at our door), no obligations, and no crying.  Steve slept out on the porch for a few hours – the weather was so perfect – and I was able to dive into the mounds of paperwork and emails that needed attention.  That included reading and re-reading everyone’s heartfelt and beautiful messages of comfort and strength.

Steve dropped only a few words and phrases, and we were able to easily navigate his thoughts to get to the ideas.  Memory was still patchy and frustrating, but not catastrophically.  He was able to follow me when I spoke in long sentences and didn’t need me to repeat anything.  We shared our love without looming anxiety and allowed ourselves to feel the first real stirrings of hope.  It felt like peace and rest had slowed his progression.  There is a lesson for all of us there.

There was one change that we did notice.  We’re viewing it as an addition instead of a subtraction. He’s gained a very slight obsession with straight lines. He spent a good five minutes at breakfast rearranging his placemat and utensils to be perfectly in line with the table. He’s never done this before. It’s not anxiety ridden or agitated. It seemed to focus him, give him a moment of control. We both remarked on it as nothing negative. And if you’ve ever seen how he lines up his news scripts in the studio, you wouldn’t think anything of it.  Another change showing us the intricacy of his brain.

We wish all days could be like yesterday.  But there is difficult work ahead.  This week we prepare for Steve’s surgery and any other changes that may come.  We’re both scared and anxious about it.  There will be fewer opportunities for the peace and quiet that restores us both.  But we walk into it with more hope than we thought we would.  Your words of encouragement, your stories of healing, your generosity, and your recommendations have had the most profound and unexpected impact on our outlook.  You have our deepest gratitude for that.

Can we impose on you to help us with something else?  Steve has so many friends and colleagues in theatre and in radio, many of whom I have been unable to find contact information for in Steve’s lists.  Would you please share this page and Steve’s story among your circles so that we can reach everyone?  Facebook’s algorithm limits our ability to reach people and you can skip by tweets in a blink.  But if we can spiderweb the information out through multiple channels and people, we should be able to cover it.  Thank you.


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