Monday, September 20, 2010

From Vivian Stromberg

Remarks at Rhonda's Life Celebration

I guess I just want to share a little bit about – some of you may know and some of you may not know – Rhonda and I were married for close to twenty years. And so for us, it’s a very big loss, but there are many lessons that maybe I can share and some stories that I can share.

The first is if you want to be married twenty years to anybody, but especially if you got a chance to Rhonda, separate apartments is a really good idea. First and second floor works very well.

One night, a friend of ours was coming in from DC; she was visiting from Nicaragua and on a tour. It was a horrible storm, a storm something like the other night with the freak tornadoes and stuff. I went to pick Mirna up at the train station, and when we were driving back, we couldn’t get on to 18th Street. The police were there, the fire department was there, and they said that nobody could come. It didn’t feel so comfortable to me, so I insisted that we lived on that block and I needed to get up the street. We got to the house, and the entire neighborhood was in front of our house. Those of you who’ve been to the house, Rhonda’s office on the second floor was facing the street. There was a huge tree on the street, right in front of the house, that the winds pulled up. It fell across the street and totaled two cars. Rhonda was still working on her computer at the window. She had no idea.

The second, I think, also reveals how Rhonda was able in a magical way to tunnel in and focus in a way that everything else disappeared. When I had my first hip replacement, they denied me nursing care. So, for the first week when you can’t bend and you can’t walk, friends and family took turns 24 hours a day. Martha’s laughing because this was a very famous story. My daughter slept that night, and when she went to work, Rhonda’s turn was 8 to 11 to stay with me. She got all ready. I was sitting near my desk with my walker because I can’t walk without it a few days after surgery. And she said, “You want breakfast?” “Yes.” “OK, I’ll be right back, I’m just going to go upstairs for a minute, and I’ll come right back.” She went upstairs, she took a shower, she went to work. And I was sitting there waiting for the next shift.

Through all of that, we had a very special relationship, and I miss her very much. While Rhonda was very sick and in the hospital, we had a new baby born. He’s now six months old. He was born just a little over one pound and spent two months in the same hospital where Rhonda was. He’s now six months old and fat – almost as fat as me, not quite – and a very happy guy. But when he came home from the hospital, it was the precise hour that Rhonda died.

I don’t know what that means, but it means something to me because I can’t get it out of my mind. I think that life goes on and you learn from what you have the opportunity to experience. You try to apply that to make everything around you, what you can see and what you can’t see, just a little bit better. Thanks.