This is an absolutely true story Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives. - William Dement
The tranquility and sweet safety of sleep.
I stared down on this sweet wonderful funny person. I could not fathom losing her. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. I count on that. She went to sleep with her life safely in front of her¸ she will soon awaken to an uncertain future. I hushed everyone that came and went, including nurses. I wanted her to have as much time dreaming, safely, that she could.
Willie sat reading her book, catching occasional glances. The irony that Willie would be the one delivering the sad news. Willie, her worst enemy. How unfair was that? I kept looking at the clock wishing her family would come. I didn’t want us to be associated with such a grim outcome. And my wish was fulfilled as Ginger, her mom came softly shuffling in with the news. The doctor had followed. Ginger’s face said it all. I didn’t need the doctor to discover this. We left without a word. What does one say to a mother whose child is faced with such an undetermined fate?
Willie and I left the hospital holding each other’s hand oblivious to those around us.
“How about lunch”
“Yes…sure, yes, lunch” what more could I do.
Lunch would be a welcome distraction. She drove to our favorite haunt Baba Yega’s where we were taken to our favorite seat. It doesn’t necessarily “cater” to the Gay establishment, even though it is nested in one of most popular night club hot spots for the "alternative lifestyle". It has been in the tony bedroom community of Montrose since 1975, long before I had even known a lesbian close up and personal.
My first visit was when I was employed at Curtain Call and the P.A.S.S. A coworker and close friend, Sammy Ramirez took me there. I loved it at once. The décor is Victorian sheek, much like the cafe's in Old Town Spring, or in Santa Cruz, California and is in a constant state of renovation with new eating areas and outside dining. Sammy has since died, but I still remember that first time at Baba Yega’s.
Their menu is not extraordinary, but the names for the items are quite clever. There is a Sandwich called “The Fantasy”” with avocado and sprouts, that sort of thing. The waiter came to our table and asked for our choice. Sammy said “The Fantasy” I asked him “What is the fantasy?” and he proceeded to tell me his is every heart’s desire.
Baba Yega became a favorite spot for Bootsie and me. We would eat out on the front patio so she could monitor the coming and going of familiar faces. I loved to eat outside.
When I met Willie, she brought me to Baba Yega’s as well. I think every gay woman thinks she is the first one to take me there. Willie wasn’t one for eating outside; she picked a spot in the front window dead center, but very private. It became “Our Spot” and the staff knew every time we came in, where we were to be seated.
There were times Willie and I would be there, and Bootsie would watch from the bar. The second Willie went to the lady’s room; Bootsie would scurry over like a little mouse at play, put an Irish Coffee in front of me and leave just as quickly. Willie would return – scowl, because we didn’t drink. She never found it curious that there was no charge. Just grateful for not having to pay for liquor, I guess.
So going to Baba Yega’s with a combination of events from both Willie and Bootsie was agonizing and I didn’t enjoy it, nor did I think I was entitled to.
As usual we grabbed a few newspapers and leaflets to read while we waited for our lunch. Something we always enjoyed; being silently alone together. But I could bear the distraction.
After we ordered I wanted some answers. I asked Willie everything one would ask regarding such matters. And she gave me numbers and statistics. It was Colon cancer, but it had spread and trying to take the tumors out may proliferate more in other areas. If they are left “still” she may have a better chance, but as things stood not likely. She would have the requisite chemo therapy. She may be able to fight this. She was healthy.
Well of course she will be fine. I was certain. Bootsie cannot just disappear. I wasn’t having any of it.
Willie had issues of her own. Was I going to leave her? She knew as long as she stayed the supportive nurturing person, as much as she despised it, having well wishes for Bootsie was the only thing that would keep her in every one's good graces . And of course I wasn’t going to leave Willie. I loved her in so many different ways. I needed her in almost as many.
After leaving Baba Yaga’s we headed straight home where Willie scrambled to the bedroom for her daily nap.
I finished up the last of my drawings for my client and drove them over. It was rush hour and the nastiest behavior on the roads was happening.
I decided to call the hospital.
Bootsie actually answered, she sounded amazingly upbeat. One wouldn’t have known she just got out of surgery.
“Why did you leave?”
I explained that her family was what she needed and I didn’t feel comfortable staying. She was disappointed, but she understood.
She asked if we knew, even though she knew that we knew. She asked me how I felt.
Are you kidding? How I felt?
I was pissed, bewilderedat a loss as cliche' as that sounds.
I knew what she wanted. I apologized for not believing her, when she told me she was sick and I accused her of being manipulative. Which seemed so trite; I was embarrassed to even say it. But she didn’t seem to mind that. She and I danced around that conversation until she got to brass tacks.
“Dianne, please don’t let me go through this alone.”
“You won’t, Bootsie, you have your family…shit, you have an entire community...”
“No, Dianne, you know what I mean!”
And yes, I knew. But I made a commitment. I believed in the integrity of that vow and I could not break it.
“I, we, Willie and I will be part of this and we will be there.”
She sighed a defeated breath. She wasn’t happy with that outcome and truthfully neither was I.
She had to have another surgery the next day. She said “To fix things”