Mishmosh, Summary Of A Day

Mishmosh…means a real mix of stuff. What you have here…..lol…reminds me of a line from a movie…which one?  Not sure…you can help… I thought it was a movie with Rod Steiger and …name…black actor playing a lawyer in the south… and the sheriff says…what we have here, is a failure to communicate…. now I may have the movie wrong …but I think I have the approximate setting correct….the south…a while lawman, and black lawyer… okay, okay, I will google it now…..Wow…. okay…setting was partly right….partly… in the south… Cool Hand Luke…Paul Newman…the line spoken by the warden at first, and later by Newman as a prisoner….I still think there is a similar line in another movie….. this is very ADD of me….attention deficit disorder…distracted…yep

A mix of stuff….Emilee’s birthday would have been yesterday, August 24. So this is a little bit of my day yesterday, from a letter to my PT alumni to whom I have never written anything after graduating Columbia in 1994 with a MSPT degree, to a brief poem that I intend to put to music and I just like the way the words sounded together, to an accounting of the day in the last hour. Like I said, a mishmosh.

The Alumni Letter

I thought maybe I would say something after all these years, although I might put a little bit of the doggie downer on your parade, in some respects, and maybe, the puppy upper in other respects.

Remember one of our instructors, Marcia? You can fill in her last name because I know I know it, but alas, as sign of this aging brain, it is not coming to me when I beckon. Recall is sometimes delayed, so one of you youngsters who still has a sharp recall can remember it. She died within six or so months of her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

I remember it all too clearly. Some of us participated in her memorial service. So why do I bring this up? Well, yes, it is nice to remember her. She was one of those instructors that just touched hearts in a way that is a gift that good teachers have. But, I always wondered what that must have been like, to know you were going to die in a fairly short time, and in a position where there is not much you can do about it.

My wife of sixteen years, Emilee, was diagnosed May 9, 2015, with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, stage IVb, with metastases to both lungs, and right adrenals, and after a journey both like no other and yet like so many others… I lost her to this plane of existence on January 31, 2017. Today would have been her sixty second birthday.

One more downer piece, then I promise, the more uplifting words, okay? She spent her last 31 days in Yale/Smilow Cancer Hospital.  Three days after being there, she lost her balance trying to get to the commode, broke her left femur, needed surgery to pin and screw, and it was downhill fast from there. I spare you the details. We all, even her one-month old grandson and two year old granddaughter (thanks to my wonderful daughter-in-law and son), got to see her before she went on to sweeter light.

What is the puppy upper stuff after those tears? Today is her birthday. Today, I go to sing and entertain patients on Smilow NP 12, the same floor we frequented over Emilee’s last two years, and the last month of her life.

As an official volunteer at Smilow, I am now authorized to bring a little lightness and joy, through music and song and voice and harmonica and my zany personality. The first day just so happens to be on her birthday. Well, you know what I think about coincidences. There aren’t any. There have been many, many others.

The grief has opened up and broken down concrete barricades just waiting to crumble. I am writing poetry and prose, songs, and finding my ways to bring love to others. I am learning how to dance, both figuratively and literally.

I hope you are all well. I hope you take the time to dance, dare to love, and often laugh with those who are important to you.

With Love,

Neal Klein

Class of 1994


Midsummer Memory

Backlit clouds on a midsummer night
Sultry salt air rippling on silk breezes
warm wafting scents of soothing Jasmine jazz
Carving soft soapwood Sounds to her gentle heart
Would you care to dance he asked
And took her hand in his
Sparks and tremors then ensued
And lost was she in wispy reverie


Facebook post with less than an hour left to Em’s birthday, August 24, 2017


So, as this day has 59 minutes left to it…(less by now)….to your birthday day….. here is a brief account…since when I am I brief…

started off with a letter I sent in response to a request from my alumni association at columbia university PT school…we had a teacher while I was doing my graduate degree, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, went on leave, and died 6 months later… I always wondered why she went to live with her close friend, a nurse, in florida…. no more wonders…..I told, in two paragraphs, Em’s story, and how it has affected me, and I wished them all to live, love, and laugh…now….

I went to Smilow today, and with my fellow volunteer Bob, and our volunteer leader Fernanda, we did several repeat sets of one of my original songs (beautiful person), summertime (gershwin), and one or two others, and we definitely brought some smiles, and brightened up quite a few patient and staff faces as well…

then I went to an open mic night at musical intervention…too late to sign up for tonight, but what a cool little place…look on their website if interested….they involve homeless on other disenfranchised people from various agencies and the community with songwriting, performance, and recording, creating a living and breathing music therapy….it is waaaaaay cool and I plan to do some volunteer work there. And a perk…eight hours of volunteering gets you an hour in the recording studio. Very nice.

Courtney  (my step-daughter) and I both did things I think Emilee would be and I think is, smiling about….so it was a very beautiful day….full of emotion on my and Courtney’s part, and a very meaningful day each in our own way…

Happy Birthday Emilee….. I will always love you….Zurbiches…(if you are not familiar with the term, it is a “raspberry” done on someone’s neck or shoulder or arm, used to do it with my children, and we sometimes still do it to each other, yeah, we still have some “kid” left in us, and it makes us smile, and we have my two year old granddaughter doing them…yeah)

So? Mishmosh??? (smile) This post, me, and certainly my emotions this month and definitely yesterday.


Neal Klein
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.