Pictures That Talk

mood: here | drinking: drinks

dieter

I’ve written about my friend Dieter before (here). In February of 2008, he suffered a massive stroke that left him struggling to regain his speech and the full use of his right arm and hand.

As an artist who had, his whole life, expressed himself through words and music, Dieter suddenly found himself locked inside his own head, unable to communicate his thoughts, fears, feelings. He had to learn how to say his wife’s name, his son’s names.

Since 2008, Dieter’s journey has been long and difficult. It is likely he will never fully regain the use of his right hand, or ever be able to speak or sing again the way he used to.

But he has found new ways to communicate. Ever the artist, Dieter has turned to photography to express not only his own story (the picture above is a self-portrait), but the stories of others who don’t have voices. (See a sampling of Dieter’s photos here and details of his “Pictures that Talk” tour here.)

This week, Dieter emailed me a link to a video he’s created, and I want to share it here with you. He’s found the beauty inside the heartache, and it’s breath-taking to watch…

The Stroke of Silence

-Lo, who is always amazed at the human heart’s capacity for hope.

Upside Down

zandersMood: Heavy
Drinking: Not

This week brought some heavy news, and for days now I have been weighed down with the kind of sadness that leeches color from the sky.

A very dear friend of mine, Dieter Zander (pictured here at my book release party last May with me and his wife Val) suffered a large stroke earlier this week and is still in the hospital, his prognosis uncertain.

Dieter and Val have been a special part of my life since I met them in Chicago back in 1996. Safe to say I would not be the artist — or the person — I am today if I had not met them.

Dieter saw something in me the first time he met me, and he didn’t just say “I believe in you” — he gave me a stage, a place in the real world to use my voice — and in doing so, he changed my life. And Val, with her grace and steady strength, befriended me and in our lengthy heart-to-heart conversations, gave me a safe place to dream as she imagined with me the woman I could become.

Over the years, I’ve shared many meals with the Zanders and their three sons. They moved to San Francisco two years before Boy and I did, and were here to help us settle in and make a home. Dieter officiated at our wedding, and Val helped me choose the poems for my first book.

The Zanders have been to me mentors and friends, big brother and sister, inspiration and sounding board. I have just taken for granted the fact that they are and always will be part of my life.

So I have been shocked, I have been shaken to the soul by the news this week of Dieter’s stroke, and I feel ultimately helpless in my ability to make any of this better or less difficult for the family I love so much.

Many of you who read this blog know the Zanders, or at least have heard of them. I know you’ll want more information and updates about Dieter’s condition as the days go by, so please bookmark this website: http://zanderupdate.wordpress.com/

Whether you believe in prayer or good karma or healing thoughts, please take a moment today to send one skyward for my friend Dieter, his wife Val and their sons Kyle, Conrad, and Christopher.

I pray that his voice does not stay silent for very long…

-Lo, who has a hundred things she should have said.