Kelly here. Don’t be alarmed–I realize you usually only hear from me when Jeff is incapacitated. Through bio-chemo and brain surgery I commandeered the blog to keep everyone updated on his condition and to solicit prayers and well-wishes. This time, I’m writing just for fun. At the first of the year, we added a counter to the blog so we could see just how many people follow Jeff’s story. It’s been amazing to see how many people check-in everyday. I feel like I should give updates more frequently to keep everyone interested and connected. (This is Jeff’s "daily" update, after all). I trust that getting updates only two or three times a week makes them all the more exciting as the anticipation builds!
Not much is new, but we do have some good news–Jeff’s good friend, Dustin, is coming to visit this week. Jeff and Dustin went to high school together and have remained friends all these years. Dustin is going to accompany Jeff to his third anti-CTLA4 treatment in Chicago on Friday. We can’t wait to see him. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Dustin because he played a pivotal role early in my and Jeff’s relationship. The story goes like this:
I loved Jeff from the moment I met him. (Remind me to tell you that story sometime). But, we lived nearly 300 miles apart and were not yet even Juniors in high school. Nonetheless, we wrote each other incessantly and wanted desperately to see each other again. It was the summer of 1989 and I was employed as a dance hall girl in a summer theater with a wild west theme. Don’t worry–it was a family show! (This becomes relevant later). One day, I received a letter from Jeff notifying me that he had secretly made arrangements to come visit me in Ogallala (my little Western Nebraska hometown). The letter informed me that he and his friend, Dustin, were going to plan a "camping trip." But instead of going camping, they were going to come to Ogallala. Brilliant! I ate the letter to dispose of the evidence (just kidding). So, I wrote Jeff back and said the plan sounded great and I would take care of things on my end. When the appointed day arrived, Jeff and Dustin executed the plan. They left to go "camping" and both Jeff’s parents and Dustin’s parents were none the wiser. Until . . .
Jeff’s sister Mary Margaret (who was 11 years old at the time) informed Jeff’s parents that she had come into a little information about the ole’ "camping trip" due to a not-so-accidental review of the letter I had sent Jeff confirming the viability and details of the plan. In other words, Mary Margaret had snooped through Jeff’s stuff; read my letter; and tattled on him. Jeff’s parents immediately put their own "plan" in motion which was, chiefly, to get to their son before he got to that good-for-nothing saucy little temptress in Ogallala. (Hey! I said it was a family show!)
Now, this was back in the olden days before cell phones and global positioning devices were in vogue, so Jeff and Dustin were on I-80 in the Chevette–totally oblivious to the drama unfolding back in Lincoln. While they were driving, Jeff’s parents had notified Dustin’s parents of the dilemma and were also making persistent efforts to contact me. I was ON-STAGE during one of my dance hall performances when the bartender called me down with a very concerned gesture to come to the back and answer the phone. Taking a call in the middle of a show was unprecedented, so I was sure Jeff and Dustin had perished somewhere near Kearney and I would be sick with guilt knowing they met their end all because I was just so irresistible! (Ha!)
I was only slightly relieved to find it was Jeff’s mom on the phone insisting that I confirm his whereabouts and that I command him to return to Lincoln as soon as I caught sight of him. (Yeah, right.) When Jeff finally arrived, I was (ironically) in the middle of a gun-fight during the pre-show. I ran over to him and told him that his mom had called; she knew of the "plan" and he was to call her right away.
Jeff talked to his mom but decided that since he was already in the biggest trouble of his life and had gotten Dustin into a similarly sticky situation with his own parents, that they should just stay in Ogallala for the rest of the evening and have whatever fun they could on (what would be for them, anyway) the last day of summer.
So, to make a long story not so long, they stayed and watched my second show. We ate dinner and went to the lake and had a generally glorious time. Dustin and Jeff left early the next morning with a package of sweetrolls from the local Sixth Street grocery store and a story that has lived for nearly 19 years.
Yes, Jeff and Dustin got grounded for the rest of the summer. Yes, Jeff was no longer allowed to drive the Chevette. Yes, Jeff had to go apologize to Dustin and Dustin’s parents (which, if I remember right Jeff and Dustin both endured with barely-suppressed laughter). But, the trip fortified our relationship and is something we still talk about today. And it’s only now that I understand why this "trip" was such a big deal: Jeff was very obedient and self-disciplined. It was completely out of character for him to up-and-leave like he did. Especially for some girl. Fortunately, that girl turned out to be the mother of his children or the story might not be so sweet and enduring.
So goes my first meeting with Dustin. And even though Jeff (and I) got him in huge trouble, he is still our friend–so much so that he is coming all the way from Lincoln to help us and comfort us and make us laugh, no doubt. Either that, or he’s coming to exact his revenge for the trouble we put him through that summer!