Today was the final Oprah Winfrey show.
In 1986 I remember the first time I heard of Oprah. I was sitting in my parent's house on Cherry Ave. watching afternoon t.v. and I saw the commercials announcing over and over again that "Oprah's coming". I thought..what is an Oprah. Of course my mom and sister and I watched. We were afternoon t.v. junkies already watching the Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, Guiding Light and then at 4pm- The Phil Donahue show
(I secretly always missed Merv Griffen when he went off the air). So this new Oprah thing...we were all over it. And so from that day on we were hooked along with the rest of the country..."Did you see Oprah today?" was a common question for years we'd ask each other!
In 2003 when Hope completed her chemo treatments from breast cancer, she wanted to celebrate big. I told her anything she wanted to do I was there! I told her pack up Jake and Nathan and let's head to Fiji! Or go on a cruise! A trip to NYC! But my dear Hope picked Oprah. A girls only trip to Chicago in the winter. The trip had to be made within weeks of the final treatments ending. So there we were, in the coldest place I thought we could ever be in February! Hope called ahead for hours and days to get tickets, and because "All guests of the Oprah Winfrey show stay at the fabulous Omni Hotel in downtown Chicago" she booked that hotel and she planned the entire trip.
When I look back at that trip now, I only remember a few things really.
1) The cold.
2) Worrying that Hope was out in frigid weather with barely any hair and I thought a tropical local was more appropriate for this celebration!
3) The fact that our morning Oprah taping was about Skid Boot the Dog and amazing animal tricks not the afternoon show that day with John Travolta!
4) Dropping a ton of Jake's money in Nordstrom's for Hope's new wardrobe
5) Talking with Hope for hours and hours and hours about things I never really ever said out loud before.
The talking never stopped. And I am not talking "does this new shirt show my new scars" in the dressing room kind of talk. We talked about clothes, and cancer, and new scars and the new breast prosthetic of course. But we dug deeper at night for hours, at meals, walking the streets of Chicago, while she got a makeover at the makeup counter. We talked about our lives, our dreams, our past, the universe, destiny, fate and what is the meaning of it all? We didn't call it the "whispers of our soul" but we'd talk about what was stirring in us and how we got to be who we were then and where we wanted to go.
In 2009 Hope and I watched Oprah everyday in her hospice room. At 4pm I would shut the door, put the "Do Not Disturb" sign up, turn on the TV and help her eat a chocolate shake with a little plastic spoon so she could taste chocolate. I don't remember a single episode. I don't remember any details of those days really but I remember looking forward to that time and being alone with our ice cream and each other. Hope couldn't talk, but we could communicate. I could "hear" her....I always talk about those days like it I was on another planet because without words, our energy could communicate. I didn't need her voice, I didn't need to say anything to her...somehow in quiet still moments, while the Oprah show was on in the background, those whispers in our lives where guiding us through. I couldn't function without the whispers. They told me when to go home to Cooper. They told me when to stay longer at the hospital. In the end those whispers told me to say my final goodbye and stay away to let her go until the day she died when God whispered back in my ear to head to the hospital just so I could make it there minutes after she passed so I could be with my friends who also showed up when I did because they heard the whispers too.
So now in May 2011, in the final show I hear: "What are the whispers in your life right now? And will you hear it? Your life is speaking to you. What does it say?"
That quote is one that Hope would have loved and that hit me like a brick tonight! The whispers of my life are still here but I think I stopped hearing them. I know that compounded grief, stress and just plain life drowned out the whispers so I started needing the walls to come crumbling down to get my attention.
Just like in 1986 when I didn't know what "an Oprah" was, I don't know what "an Ann-Marie" is right now either....I hope I don't take 25 years to find her but I know that today I was reminded I really need to listen more to the whispers that I know are there.
I don't miss Merv anymore because we have Ellen, I don't watch soaps because I have blogs, but replacing Oprah at 4pm....I won't ever do. When I think of Oprah I always think of Hope. And now when I think of Hope and Oprah, I will stop to listen to my whispers.
I'll let you know where they take me! Let me know where they are taking you too.