7 Floors Down

Directly below where I now sit is a cafeteria. Beside that eatery is a small, intimate little sitting area with one bench. I sat on that bench – seven floors down – recording a 4:06 video. This happened nearly two hours ago here, at Shadyside hospital in Pittsburgh, during a time when I should have been somewhere else …

Life isn’t all smiles. Greta and I should have been rehearsing final notes for our, “Smile: A musical journey through life and rare terminal cancer” concert. Instead, we are quietly singing our way around nurses, beeping IV pole stand monitors, and shuffling feet noises outside a very accomodating western PA hospital facility. It’s been a difficult past few days. Six months of planning. We fell a mere few days short.

There is no quit here. The concert has been postponed. For those among my readers who are unaware, here is the poster:

I sit here at 9:11 wondering, “why?”. It’s hard not to ask that question. Why so close, yet so unreachable? During a small window of opportunity this afternoon, we had a moment when Greta’s vocal, quiet beauty met my pianist eyes. That one word fell into our near conversational silence. We knew it. It remained unanswered as time drifted into a lull. Seventy-two hours is all. After six months of planning and rehearsing, life came down to seventy-two hours.

I sat on a small bench recording a video, not another smaller bench playing, “Silver Lining”, or “Rainbow Connection”. There will be no beauty in song tomorrow. No daisies on stage or train whistle to begin the concert with Doris Day’s rendition of, “Sentimental Journey” ending with Greta’s A-major 7th she loves so much. “Chase” – with her brother, Bump – and Donnie & Marie’s closing theme will both have to wait until we decide to reschedule. There is no quit. No give-up. Twenty-three songs and pieces Greta and I have accepted as part of our souls are, now, archived in our library of memories … for now.

Seven floors up from where I was, I now sit. Sad, but so glad Greta is receiving the care she needs.

“Why?” still remains unanswered and will be so. I don’t want an answer. One week earlier this concert had a chance. Even this past Wednesday, she had the spunk and energy to do a full hour interview at our local radio station. We had a window. Small as it was …

Life with appendix cancer isn’t what anyone expects or plans for at any time … anywhere. As I finish up this short post, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share a smile journey. It’s, simply, not the way Greta and I hoped to dance happy memories past your ears tomorrow.

Below is a replacement video for the livestream we planned for 2:00 tomorrow. May you find peace and wonderment in all your smiles – and please listen to your favorite music not only tomorrow afternoon, but always. “Smile, though your heart is breaking …”


4 thoughts on “7 Floors Down

  1. I don’t like this entry, Doug. I’m crying now this morning as I read the post and watched you. I know you’re crying too. I’m praying for Greta. Cancer is always an ugly thing, no matter what type. HUGS for you as well.


  2. David, thank you for your reply. Greta and I are sad we can’t share our gifts today. She is in a lot of pain and will be having a procedure done Monday to help alleviate the massive discomfort. We had plan B’s and C’s for the concert. Neither were going to work out. I need to be here with her. Thank you, David, for your continuing support. Doug.


  3. I am really sorry that this is playing out this way. I want to do something to help. If Greta is able to sing at any time in the future, I will help you put together a way to have her perform. She has the support of the Altoona musicians and artists for certain, and I am sometimes able to help gather them for supportive causes, so please let me know if I can be of assistance in any way.


    1. Todd, I am grateful for your reply/comment. We were finally able to get Greta home today. Privacy prevents me from disclosing too much about her situation, but I’m glad to direct you to her FB page. We were sorely disappointed about our program. A future concert, as you may determine from her post, is probably definitely in her spirit … however not in her time or energy. Thank you for your support and kindness. Doug


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