Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Monday, July 10, 2023
Today I am just going to be catty and sarcastic for fun......it's my sweet spot.
Everyone sends me messages these days, a lot more than before Laura and cancer. They offer empathy and sympathy and for some reason milk. I am told more often than any other statement "If there is anything we can do, just let us know. If you need milk. let me know." Apparently, during this process, milk is very necessary. I am unsure why, as we have plenty of milk. We have whole milk, 2%, and Oat milk. I have yet to see any of the girls laying on the floor with bowls of dry cereal howling for milk. Everyone wants to run to the store for me, which is very nice. But I let them know right away if we need anything from the store I AM GOING. That is my one trip out of the house for the day and you're not taking that away from me. Let me tell you, when I get to the store, I take my time. It's like being at Disney World for 30 minutes. I know that all of these wonderful people are just being super sweet. They're not sure what to do or say and just want to be helpful. I hope you're laughing a bit, cause that is what this is all about. I am so grateful to have so many people willing to help me at a moment's notice.
Laura sleeps a lot of the day, is up a few times, hits a sweet spot around 4pm, and stays up until 9 or 10pm. There is plenty of time for me to go to the store, the bank, whatever. Obviously, I don't go too far away. She is on a pain management schedule that I am in charge of administering. In the other parts of the day I am cleaning the house, organizing my studio, and helping the Blood Brothers tour with hotels and flights. It gets boring and slow for a guy that is used to moving constantly. I don't do "slow" very well. I continue to run every day on the treadmill and do 120 daily pushups. But I miss the hustle and bustle of touring and moving around. Even in the past when at home, Laura was always going. She never sat still much. She was working in the yard or had projects she was doing. We were going out to eat and see the local theater group that Laura's mother is working with. Now it's just slower and calm, and simple. It takes more focus to stay here and stay in the moment. Laura has a port to drain fluid from her abdomen. She has ascites from liver failure. I have to drain her belly once a day and clean the port and change her bandage. The tape sticks to her skin and hurts to peel off. We have to use these pads to loosen the tape from her skin. It's a very slow and sometimes painful process for her. It makes me sad for her and I try to not get frustrated. I am also thankful that I get this time with her together to just be close. We hold hands and watch tv, and sometimes we dance in the kitchen to no music. Laura is in a very good state of mind. She laughs and is silly and fun most days. She's got great pain meds to help her and sometimes they work too well. She will kind of walk in circles and just start laughing. She says "Ok, I don't know what the hell I was trying to do just now." I usually tell her I am jealous!
We have had several visits from family and friends. Of course, everyone wants to see Laura. She would like to see everyone as well, trust me, but it's just not always possible. Like I said, she sleeps most of the day so we limit her visits to maybe one a day and only for a few hours. She doesn't like anything to be loud or noisy, even if it's loud laughter. It startles her. The mood here at the house needs to be medium always. Not doom and gloom and not loud and wild, just medium. She loves to hear about how everyone's doing and what's going on. Her brother Kenny came over last week and told her all about his cars and trucks and what he was fixing up or selling. She was so excited. She loves when friends come over and remind her of fun times they had when they were younger. Obviously, everyone wants to talk to her about her cancer and how she is feeling but that gets old. That's pretty much all she has talked about for the past year and she's tired of talking about it. She wants to hear about life, not her cancer.
I have to say, I feel the same way as Laura. Everyone who talks to me wants to talk about what I am going through. I get it. But I have been going through this since last April, this isn't new. It's all-consuming. I want to talk about music, guitars, tv shows, movies, comedians.....anything else, please. I get so many wonderful messages and calls from friends, family, and fans offering to talk to me. It's really over the top. But to tell you the truth, I don't want to talk about this anymore. I have a sponsor and some very dear close friends that I talk to regularly and those are really the only people I trust to talk about my feelings with. I don't need to talk to everyone about my personal thoughts and feelings. If we have never had deep personal conversations before, why would we do that now? I promise I know that people are just trying to be helpful and of service. I also know that when most people offer to talk with me what they're really offering is to "talk", not listen. Listening is very difficult. They want to tell me about their problems and what they think I should do or feel. When I do share with some people they try and tell me that I can't think like that or feel like that. They tell me I am feeling wrong and need to feel like they would feel. It's weird. When someone asks me how I am doing I will usually answer "pretty good". That is an honest answer. They seem a little stunned at first. How is that possible that I am doing "pretty good"? It's possible because I pray every day. I believe in a God of my understanding and I have a relationship with God. I have a deep understanding of life and death from being in recovery for 20 years. My sponsor and the program have been training me for a situation just like this for years. I am spiritually prepared. It does not make it easier, it just makes it doable. I know this is not the end for Laura. I believe in an afterlife. I am also still hopeful and pray for a miracle. I won't stop praying for a miracle until she is no longer here. I have gratitude for the 20 years I have gotten to spend with this wonderful human being. Yes, I am sad I don't get 20 more, but I am not going to ruin the little bit I have left by being resentful and mad, I am grateful. Most people will have never lived and loved as much as Laura and myself did in an entire lifetime, let alone 20 years. What a blessing that I get to be here with her now. She saved my life in 2003. She saved me from being a dead junkie. I could never repay her for her love and support. To be here now for her and make her comfortable will be the most important thing I do in my life.
People think because I do not cry in front of them that I must not be sad. I am supposed to show a certain amount of sadness in front of everyone so they can feel like I am sad enough. It's pretty weird. I don't cry in front of people much. That is just not who I am. If that is who you are, that's wonderful, but I am not that way. I have cried 1000 times over the past year. I cry alone when it's too much. I cry with Laura when we are alone. I don't have to cry to make you feel better. I have grieved for the past year and cried for the past year....it's your turn to cry and grieve now. I will grieve for years to come, but right now I have a duty to my best friend and to my family. I can cry as much as needed when I am on the other side of this journey. I also get a lot of messages about how we can cure Laura's cancer with some new herbal medicines or sound waves or ivermectin. Again, I know people want to help and I am not opposed to alternative medicines. But know this, Laura has a Rife machine that she uses almost every day. Laura takes dog dewormer for the past 3 months or more. Laura takes Rick Simpson Oil daily. We have tried almost everything you can think of and we continue to try these alternatives, they just don't seem to be working. But, we continue to try and hope. Laura had the best medical team at MD Anderson, thanks to a very dear family friend, and that team of doctors did everything they could for Laura and it just didn't work for very long. It's hard for us to believe that her oncologist couldn't save her but your message on Facebook about baking soda will. At some point, Laura just needs to live whatever amount of life she has left. She gets tired of having to constantly try and be saved.
I hope you know that I love you all. I am thankful for your love and support for me and my family. It's overwhelming the outpouring of love. And while I cannot sit and have a deep conversation with each and everyone one of you, know that I truly appreciate your care and concern. If you want to know what you can do for me, please pray for Laura. If you're not a praying person, please keep a good thought for her. That is really all I ask for. I can get as much milk as we need, trust me. Also, Walmart delivers now. I know a lot of you want to come to see Laura, but she just can't see everyone. She needs to see her family and close friends. I try and read to her all of the comments and posts and messages I get when she gets up for the day. She loves hearing from you. If you message her and she doesn't get back to you, it's just because she's sleepy and slower and not always able to keep up, don't take it personal.
I will continue to share stories of Laura with you and old photos, it's really fun. Laura loves to be reminded of these fun times we had. She never had a great memory, but I do. I will play my guitar on Instagram and share all of the Blood Brothers shows as they continue to tour. I hope you will support Albert and the band and go see them with Gary Hoey. They sound amazing! Yes, I do have a new album I have been working on for the better part of this year. It is a Blues album. Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith are helping me put the song list together. Everyone seems to think I am going to write lots of new songs about this journey with Laura....but I don't think that is possible. Not right now and maybe never. I have certainly written a few, but that's all I can muster. I wouldn't even know how to write songs about what we are going through now. I have no words. I am lucky I can walk through it let alone sing about it.
Make me laugh! I love you all and as Tommy Castro likes to say "Let's keep it fresh"
Peace, Love, Zito
Monday, July 3, 2023
First of all, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all of your generous donations and support to my wife Laura, and our family. We are forever grateful. And although we certainly realize that no amount of money will save Laura's life, it has given us the freedom to put everyday concerns aside and just be together with our family. This is a gift I can never repay. We would trade every penny to keep Laura here with us longer.
Having grown up in the midwest I had no experience with hurricanes. I heard about them on the news now and then and sometimes saw the awful footage of the destruction they caused but because they were so far removed from where I lived they were never really on my mind. My first experience with hurricanes would change my life forever. I was living in Port Neches, Texas in 2005 and Hurricane Katrina was coming for New Orleans. My sister Patty and her daughters evacuated to our house and we watched the destruction unfold on tv. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Luckily she lived in Destrehan where the damage was much less and she did not have flooding. They were able to go back home pretty quick. Within weeks of Katrina, Hurricane Rita came for Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. This was an ever stronger and larger hurricane than Katrina. It was unreal. We packed up the house, shut it all down, and evacuated to Patty's house in Destrehan. This was all like a movie to me. Very surreal. Within less than a month we endured two of the worst hurricanes in US history. I remember returning to Port Neches to see our house and area after the storm passed. It was like a war zone. Our home in Port Neches was on cinder blocks; half of them had been pushed down deep into the ground, so the house was bent crooked. All the door jams were off like an amusement park fun house. The huge tree in front of the house had fallen on the roof. It was a mess. After Katrina and Rita, I was now fully aware of hurricanes and the pain and destruction they cause. As the years went on living in Nederland, Texas we had so many hurricanes. I am told more than in the previous twenty years. It seemed like every year, at least once, we were packing and evacuating. Luckily for us, these storms never did the damage of Rita. In fact, most of these storms didn't do anything to our home or to our town. But we still packed up, locked the house down, and got ready for the worst because we knew what was possible. Most times we would come back home to the electricity still on, no damage, and almost a laughing sigh of relief.
This is what we're doing with Laura. We're praying for a miracle but preparing for the storm. We know what we've been told by the doctors and her poor health is an obvious reminder that things are not getting better, they're getting worse. She is in more pain as each day goes by. We have all of the conversations you never thought you'd have to have so soon in life. They're not fun conversations. Making out wills, end-of-life directives, wishes, and hopes for the future of the family. It's heavy. It brings on a feeling of hopelessness just like the weather forecast does when they tell you how bad this storm is going to be. So, we prepare. But I always remind Laura of the times when we locked down the house, packed up our belongings and family, and ran for the hills only to return to an undamaged home and everything ended up being fine. We weren't mad or upset that we prepared for no reason, we were thankful.
Luckily for me and my family, I am clean and sober today. I have the program and the steps. I have a wonderful sponsor who checks on me daily. I have my faith in my Higher Power who I choose to call God. I pray and meditate and exercise every day to keep my mind focused and grateful. I would be a mess and useless to Laura and my family if I was not in recovery today. It's like this beautiful program has been training me for this exact moment in my life. I play my guitar and I have been writing some songs as well.
So this is where we are today. We are making all the necessary decisions and provisions for the inevitable, but we continue to pray for a miracle that none of this will be necessary. It's not fun, but we try and laugh as much as possible and enjoy the sunshine. I know this comparison to a hurricane seems corny, but it makes sense in our heads and hearts. Just like when we evacuated, we have come together as a family and marriage. My job is to be Laura's husband. I am here to help her feel comfortable, safe, and at peace. I will make sure she isn't worried about a thing. I love her so much and I know she would do the same thing for me.
Thank you again, continued prayers are so welcome.
Peace, Love, Zito
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
I am trying to continue making blog entries, although they are fewer and further between.
Of course, everyone asks about Laura and how she is doing and my answer is mostly the same....she is doing pretty good. Her treatment continues and probably always will. She had some setbacks in February and March with a blood infection and weight issues. That seemed to really slow her progress down. Her last scans were not bad but not great either, just ok. Some tumors got a little smaller, some got a little bigger. They are adding a new medicine to her chemo treatment to help keep the cancer stable. She has gotten much better over the last month and has gained back over 10 pounds. She is feeling stronger and looking more solid and less frail. Yesterday she got a nerve blocker to help alleviate the horrible pain she has been suffering from over the past year due to her pancreatic tumor. It hits two nerves and causes excruciating pain and suffering. When she hurts, it's hard to eat or sleep, bringing her quality of life down quite a bit. But when the procedure was finished yesterday she wasn't feeling any pain at all and for most of the day she didn't need any pain meds. This is very promising and she is excited about not hurting every day. That would make a big difference for her to enjoy her everyday life and put on more weight. More weight would give her more strength in case she got another infection or got sick. With her immune response so low from the chemo sudden illness can take a big toll on her. All in all, she is doing really pretty good right now and we are very thankful. She is a fighter and will continue to fight hard. We pray for any and all miracles, but we also are thankful for the miracle that she is with us right now, today.
My past behavior shows a pattern of running away. I run away from problems, intimacy, hard times...you name it and I have run away from it in my life. Ironically, I have always had this desire to run, like physically run fast and hard. I have never been a runner but I always have this idea, this thought that I would love to go outside and run as fast as I can. On January 1st of this year, I decided I would start running every day. I went outside and I ran. It felt good. I got an Apple watch and started monitoring my progress and my heart rate. I quickly moved to the treadmill where I began an Apple Fitness Plus class. Since January 1st of this year, I have only missed 7 days of running. My stamina is much higher now and I can knock out a 45-minute class with ease. I get my heart rate up to 160-170 most every day. The class is more cardio than just running. It involves hits where we push really hard for a short period of maybe 30-45 seconds and then we pull back to an easy walk or run for a minute or so and then go again. This has helped me to build full body strength and freedom. I no longer am so concerned with how many calories I have or if I can have a cookie or not. My metabolism is much higher now and my life has completely changed. I have maybe lost 10 pounds total but my body has been transformed. My core is strong and my energy level is through the roof. I sleep solid and I feel ten years younger. But the most important change this physical act of running has brought me is inner peace. My mind is at ease. The pain of my wife's illness is still there every waking moment, but my mind can stay clear and focused throughout the day. I am burning off the excess anxiety. It's amazing to me that what I have wanted all my life is to run, literally. When I physically run, I am actually running away from my mind and my worrying....hence my problems. My problems are always of my own making in my mind. Of course, I am not at fault for my wife's illness or all of my circumstances in life but I am responsible for how I react and walk through the circumstances. Physically running gives me hope and focus to do what I can do and be of service.
Many folks are kind enough to ask me how am I doing through all of this. I tell them I am doing ok. That's about how I am doing. Sometimes I am just in what I call "Animal" mode. I am surviving. I do what I am asked to do for the family and I follow direction. I act stupid and laugh at horrible jokes. I watch silly movies and tv shows and listen to more rocking music because it pushes me. It may seem like I am just not feeling much and that's probably true. When I am on the road working, I prefer to not have a lot of feelings. They get in the way. When I am home I get to relax and love on my girls and that balances my life.
We have so much generous help from family and loving friends through this all, we are not alone. We thank you all for your support and love and prayers. Laura is very strong and she's not going anywhere anytime soon. She is doing things now she wouldn't have considered months ago. She is willing to do whatever it takes to stay here with our family, she is a fighter and I am so proud of her.
We love you!
Peace, Love, Zito
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Laughter: Most commonly, it is considered an auditory expression of a number of positive emotional states, such as joy, mirth, happiness, or relief.
The study of "Laughter" is called Gelotology.
I had some pretty terrible things happen to me when I was a young child. Things that should never happen to children. It was traumatizing and changed my life forever. I felt shame and was frightened of going to hell for what happened to me. The acts themselves were enough to ruin a child but the Catholic church added another element to the entire experience by scaring the living shit out of me night and day. I had very dark times when I was 6 and 7 years old. I was always afraid and ashamed. I got a guitar and a record player in 1978 and they would both change my life for the better.
My brother Frank is 18 years older than me. My sister Patty is 16 years older than me and Judy is 11 years older than me. By the time I was 8 years old, all of them were long gone from the house. It was just me and my parents and a BUNCH of vinyl records that were left behind. Those records consisted of Led Zepplin, The Eagles, Heart, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Jackson 5, and many more. But maybe more important than the music albums were comedy albums. Cheech and Chong, Steve Martin, and most important, Richard Pryor. There were two Richard Pryor albums; "That ni$$ers crazy" and "Is it something I said?". These two albums changed my life for the better and continue to do so today. I was 8 years old with two Richard Pryor albums and a world of hurt. I remember listening to them for the first time. His voice was just funny, he was playful. He did different voices of characters that made me laugh. Obviously, many sexual jokes and racial ideas went over my head at such a young age. I knew he was using dirty words and I loved it! But I didn't always understand the context. What I did understand and feel almost immediately was that this man was special. He was kind and full of love. He had a softness to his personality that instantly made me feel better. He was vulnerable. Even as a young kid, I could tell he was saying that life is painful and weird and that's ok cause it's like that for all of us. I could see the scene when he did voices and told stories of the wino on the street corner. I was there in my head watching him tell this story, he took me somewhere far away from my own mind and thoughts. My absolute favorite is of course "Mudbone". I would listen to these stories over and over and watch them play out like a movie that was only for me. I was enthralled by the laughter of the live audience. They howled, screamed, and cheered him on as he poured his heart out in front of them. I memorized all of the stories word for word and would laugh to myself at school as I replayed them in my mind. I couldn't wait to get home to put on my comedy records and just fantasize for hours. I loved Steve Martin and his silliness and adored Cheech and Chong with the stories and characters and sound effects, but most of all I loved Richard Pryor. He was just more real and honest and he always made me feel like everything was going to be ok. He instilled in me a feeling of resilience that I carry with me to this day. His albums became my religion, my sanctuary. I listened to them over and over all of my life. His understanding of the human condition continues to inspire me today.
Later in life I became friends with Cyril Neville. We wrote a song together called "Pearl River" and it won a Blues Music Award for Song of the Year in 2010. That brought us together to write more songs and start a band called Royal Southern Brotherhood. We traveled the world with this band and spent many days and nights on the road together. Soon enough Cyril found out how much I loved Richard Pryor and we became much closer. Richard Pryor was a hero to Cyril as well. Cyril just loved him for all the same reasons I did. We would listen to those albums in the van on the road, quote his best lines to each other and sometimes Cyril would just ask me to recite some of Mudbone or the Wino to make him laugh. Richard Pryor brought Cyril and me together much closer because we both understood what his comedy meant and how deep it was, still today. To truly feel his comedy you have to have a bit of sadness inside and Cyril and I shared that feeling together. We understood each other much better because of this connection.
I wrote Richard Pryor's wife Jennifer years ago to let her know how Richard's comedy was still bringing people together and told her about myself and Cyril and she took the time to write back to me. She appreciated my sharing with her and wished us well, very sweet.
On this last tour, we spent super bowl Sunday in Peoria, Il. The next day we went to visit the Richard Pryor memorial statue. It was beautiful and very meaningful to me. His comedy is like my religion. He always makes me feel better. We listened all morning to Richard and laughed our way to Evansville. His comedy never goes out of style. You can hear where all of the others after him take their cues. Some just blatantly use his material for their own. But none are as powerful or vulnerable as Richard Pryor. He was real and needed to laugh to get past the sadness of life. His comedy endures today. I am so very thankful to have found those records all those years ago when I was young. They were waiting for me at the absolute right time in my life.
Peace, Love, Zito
"yeah I know Jesus! I remember when the boy got kilt, thats for real man it was on a Friday down by the railroad depot" - RP
Take a few minutes to enjoy Mudbone today: