Racing Against Time

I can’t stop thinking about a bottle of wine.

Not any bottle–the bottle Bruce and I sent our friend Pam the week before she died.  We found out that K.R. Rombauer of Rombauer Vineyards was doing a wine tasting in Omaha on March 29th. Rombauer was one of the vineyards we visited during our Napa visit with Pam in October. She picked it out, and it was one of our favorites.

We decided it would be great to get him to sign a bottle for her, and he did. He was gracious and wonderful.

We had spent the first weekend of March with Pam and knew we didn’t have time to spare. The wine tasting was on Thursday night and Bruce overnighted the bottle on Friday. When Pam got it on Saturday, she sent the following text (I can’t bring myself to delete her texts just yet):

“I GOT . . . I GOT IT!!!!!!!! In luuuuvvvvvv pitter patter: Thanku so very much friends!!!!!!!”

She displayed it on her fireplace mantel. On Sunday, April 1, she went into the hospital. She remained there until Thursday, April 5th. After spending the night at home and having in-home hospice care stop by, she decided to go into hospice on Friday, April 6th. She died on Monday, April 9th.

We drank the wine with Pam’s parents last month when they spent the weekend with us in Omaha, and toasted her. I think we’re up to toast 12,000-something by now.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what a close call that was. We wanted so badly to give her one last bit of joy from that trip, and we were so lucky it got to her in time.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this. If it has a point, I guess it’s that if you have a chance to do something for someone you care about, do it. Even if their life is approaching its end, don’t give up on them. Their capacity for joy may be the last thing to go.

And if they’re not “officially” in the last stage of life–why wait? One of my favorite quotes is from Henri Amiel, who said, “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind!” I’ve always loved that quote, but now that I’m older I finally appreciate what it means.


Poem: Choice

Editor’s note: I wrote this poem and ran this post one year ago today and wanted to share it again on this day of remembrance. -Jackie Fox

Like everyone, I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. We all felt the shock and horror of what happened in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, and fear of how widespread it might be. I was in Omaha and vividly remember freaking out when I heard a low-flying jet after all planes had been grounded. I looked up to see Air Force One taking President Bush to Stratcom.

But the images and feelings from Ground Zero had and have the most pull. The first responders going up those stairs when everyone else was going the other way; the ERs waiting for patients who would never come. But what’s haunted me most of all are the people who leaped to their deaths. In the 10th anniversary issue of The New Yorker, Edwidge Danticat said ” . . . I kept thinking about a clear blue sky that had rained lives.” I kept thinking about it too, and about what it must have been like to make that terrible choice.


All of the choices in your life
Led you to this one;
Taking a job in a tower
That scrapes the heavens;
Showing up for a meeting with clients
That clear blue day.
Now the gruesome games we played
As children are made all too real;
Would you rather go deaf
Or blind? Drown
Or die in a fire?
You have to choose!
And you do.
Sheathed in smoke and tar-black fear
You pause at Hell’s threshold
Then lean out, take a deep breath
And leap into the waiting arms of God.

-Jackie Fox