Somebody Like You.

Suzy and Bobby- 1985

Bobby and I have always been close.  Since he was a little boy, I always felt a certain connection to him.  It could be because we had just lost John-John, and I felt a strong pull to be not only a big sister, but a big brother to my siblings.  Bobby had memories of John-John, even only being 5 years old, so I felt that this was a role that needed filling.

There are always people in your family that you are closer to.  It doesn’t mean you love anyone any less, it’s just that there is a natural synergy between two people, for various reasons.  He always has my back, and vice-versa.  Come on.  We all have that person in our family that is your Go To Person.

Christmas Cruise, 2006

Christmas Cruise, 2006

Back in 2002, I was driving home from work in Center City, on the Schuylkill Expressway, slowing down because traffic was backed up at the Route 1 exit.  I was at a complete stop, when I looked behind me and saw a Saab coming barreling toward me.  The impact was intense, but I took my foot off the brake just before it hit me, so that the gravity of the crash was lessened.  He totalled his car, mine was smashed in the back.

Notre Dame.

We pulled over to the side of the road, as traffic was getting worse.  Yes, I was the Gaper delay that Tuesday evening.  As I sat in my car shaking, I dialed Bobby.  Freaking out, he told me to stay calm and call the police.  Then Dad.  “I’m in Hoboken, and I can’t get to you fast enough.”  I ended up being able to drive my car home after a good talk with Dad.  My point is, even 75 miles away from my crash, he’s the person I turned to first.

We don’t look anything alike.  I have blue eyes, while his are hazel-green.  I am fair-skinned, while his is more olive-toned.  I have hair, he doesn’t.  In fact, when we used to go to bars together, we joked that we should get shirts that say “He’s my brother, She’s my Sister” with arrows pointing to the other since we never got picked up when we were out together. Hmmmm!

We don’t talk all the time, but he’s always there.  When something good happens, he’s my first call.  When something bad happens, he’s my first call.  He jokes and calls me his Carney Lifeline, as I keep him apprised of all that is happening over here in PA.

When I got sick, I threw him a curve ball.  His lifeline was down.

Bobby and Quid.

So, naturally, when he got engaged to Claire, I got a call from a small island off of Kenya.  It was early, and I heard Bobby say “Suz, I proposed to Claire, and she said YES!”  I screamed, started clapping (I always seem to be clapping, must be my inner cheerleader), and then started to cry, just a little.  I was SO happy!

As we led up to the Wedding Day at Tethy’s House in Watamu, Kenya, I had made quite a few strides, and was feeling very confident.  Tired, but confident.

I woke up late Friday Morning, got into my pool gear, and made my way to the pool to catch a few last rays before getting ready for the wedding. Since the start time was 4pm, I had plenty of time.

As the afternoon ticked on, I checked my skin (a little browner than yesterday, nice) and jumped into the shower.  When I say “jumped”, what I really mean is that I weeble-wobbled up the stairs to the house, into the shower, making sure that I wasn’t singing this time, as no one wants to swallow Kenyan Water.

The weather was Hot.  Hot.  Hot.  I knew that my hair was a goner, so I threw it into a loose bun, pinned a flower in it, and just hoped to not look like Nick Nolte’s mugshot in any pictures.

Cutting off the Fall Risk Bracelet!

I called Lindsay into my room as it was time.  Time to cut off the Fall Risk bracelet from Bryn Mawr Rehab.  I made a deal, if I could get to Kenya, I’d cut it off the day of the wedding.

Look! No Fall Risk!

It’s been 6 months since diagnosis, and it was time.  As I cut, Lindsay snapped.  When it came off, I started to cry.  This was a big moment.  I no longer felt afraid.  I no longer felt handicapped by this disease.  I no longer was going to sit on the sidelines of my own life waiting to heal.  I was ready.

I walked out of my room to see all of the groomsmen finishing getting ready, and snapping a few pics.  Bobby was standing there, looking handsome.  He was with Quid, and as I approached, I leaned in for a big hug.

“I love you, Bobby,” I said with the proudest grin.

“I love you too, Suz,” he replied, and that was our moment.

And the boys were off.  Out the front door, cut through the bush, and arrived at the wedding venue.  Shortly behind them followed the ladies.  Now this walk was a little harder with the sand, the rocks, the bugs, the branches, but we managed.

Carney Parents

I took a deep breath and made my way down the sandy aisle to my seat.  I was still in flats, but found a very cute pair of bedazzled sandals well-worthy of a wedding.  I walked the 50 feet, slowly, carefully, until I got to the front of the congregation where my seat was.

Mother of the Bride.

We took our seats, and as we watched the procession start, I watched Bobby the whole time. Some people look at those walking down the aisle. I always look at the groom.  The smile never left his face.  And when Claire, and her father Stu, made their entrance, his smile broadened, and pure joy spilled out.  I’m not sure what was said at the “who’s give this woman”… but from these pictures, you could tell that Stu was okay with this union:)

Carneys and Eastwoods!

I was able to put my writing skills to good use this trip as well. Not only was I journaling, but I was able to write the prayers of the faithful for the ceremony.  I’m not very good writing about God, or about a country I know nothing about.  But, I put my heart into it, and made them as personal as possible.

When the priest looked my way, I knew it was my turn to get up and read. I took a deep breath, prayed that my legs wouldn’t fail me now, and walked (yes, I said WALKED!) through the sand to the front of the congregation.

Does JP have somewhere to be?

No podium to lean on.  No cane to depend on.  No chair to sit down in.  No Way I am messing this up.  I’ve already had my GBS moment (see Vomit Comet), I am not going to let anyone down now.

I started the prayers.  I looked around at these 160 pairs of eyes staring right at me, and didn’t falter.  I even ad-libbed on one of the prayers to make it more memorable.  I got a laugh, at a wedding. I was on FIRE.  I looked over to Claire and Bobby a few times- he was smiling, she was teary-eyed.  I felt so proud to be standing there, in front of everyone they loved, and giving them blessings on their new life together.

Katie finished the rest of the petitions, and we walked back to our seats.  Grateful that I did it, I sighed a breath of relief that my Africa journey was going to end of a high note.

The Happy Couple!

We’ve all been to weddings where you are sitting, looking at the bride and groom, wondering if they are going to make it.  Admit it.  We’ve all done it.  We’ve been to those weddings, where you get all dressed up, you spend tons of money on showers, bachelor parties, hotel room, new dress, and a full day out of your life to watch a couple marry that very clearly doesn’t have a chance in hell of making it.

Yes.  We’ve all seen it.  At least once.  When I stood up there, reading the prayers, looking out on all those that loved Bobby and Claire, I knew, in my heart, that they are going to make it.

Dad's Approval!

They were pronounced Husband and Wife.  Kissed a few times, to make sure all of the cameras snapping could capture the moment, and they walked down the aisle.  I followed a few people behind, walking slowly, carefully, to ensure I wasn’t tripping in the sand.  Sand is very hard to walk in, regardless of your GBS status.

After what seemed like an eternity of formal pictures, we walked a few feet back to the reception on the front lawn.  It was picture perfect.  Huge Bars set up so you never had to wait for a Tusker.  Food always being offered to you.  Lines of people eager to talk to the happy couple.

The party had begun.

We sat down around 6pm for the more formal portion of the wedding.  Not being able to find my place card, Stu, father of the Groom, gave me his, with my name furiously written in ink, to ensure that I didn’t feel slighted, in any way.  So cute!  My card was eventually found somewhere, but I rather liked my new, customized, personal name card.  Thanks Stu!

As is tradition, there are many speeches.  But, the most important speech is that of the groom.  I knew Bobby had prepared something, I just had no idea how much he had to say.  If you know Bobby, he’s very friendly, but a bit on the quieter side.  So, when he walked up to the stage to Toast his bride and all those there to celebrate with him, I was blown away.  He was confident, poised, and quite chatty!  After thanking those for being there, praying for those that had passed, and beaming with pride, the highlight of his speech arrived.

The Dowry.

In Kenya, it’s customary for the groom’s family pays a dowry to the bride’s family.  So, out came a baby goat.  This poor little thing was then passed to Stu as payment for Claire.  I cried out laughing, and the poor little goat spent much of his time hanging out next to my dad at the head table.


We made our way to get food from the fantastic spread of steak, chicken, salads, anything that you could imagine was on that table.  We were served Tusker tableside, and just laughed, for hours.  I was checking my watch a few times, because the night was ticking away, and I hadn’t yet gotten my groove on the dance floor.

Dinner was cleared.  Dessert is served.  Check the watch again.. it’s fast approached 10:15pm.  Remember, this wedding we started at 4pm!  I was going to turn into a pumpkin soon if I didn’t shake my tailfeather.

BZ double-fisting!

We looked around the table a few times (all the Carney Kids, or Carney Von Trapp Family as Kelly lovingly calls us) wondering if we were going to dance.  We had heard about these Crazy Kenyan Weddings, but so far, it was pretty tame.  Very enjoyable and relaxing, but tame.

Then, it all changed.

The DJ came on, the MC announced that Bobby and Claire would now dance their first as Husband and Wife.  Here We Go!

The Song began, and I knew we were going to really get this party started.

I’m lettin’ go of all my lonely yesterdays.  I’ve forgiven myself for the mistakes I’ve made. 

Now there’s just one thing, the only thing I wanna do I wanna love somebody, Love somebody like you

Yeah, I wanna feel the sunshine, Shinin’ down on me and you.

When you put your arms around me, you let me know there’s nothing in this world I can’t do.

You’ll all remember this song from the scene in “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” when Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are falling in love in Staten Island as they ride his motorcycle along the beach.


The wedding party joined them halfway through the song, and I watched, clapped (yes, again) and cheered for Bobby and Claire.   Others got up to join the wedding party on the dance floor.

A massive wave of anxiety set over me.  How on earth am going to be able to dance and not fall down?  The dance floor was packed, it was 11pm, so we’re all a bit sauced, and it’s not like it’s Dancing With the Stars.  There are no real skilled dancers out there.

I looked up, and Bobby is standing over me.

“Ready to Go?” he asked, and put his hand out.

“It’s now or never”, I replied, nervously.  He took my hand, led me to the dance floor.

I looked around and was internally freaking out.  I am going to faceplant at any moment.

“Just make room, and you’ll be fine,” he assured me.

I did.  And then I danced.  And Danced.  And Danced.  And Danced some more.

A Broken Dance Floor?

And from that moment on, we all danced.  I found too that the more Tusker I drank, the better dancer I became. Isn’t that always the case?  And I never fell down!

It was so much fun.  Dad was on the dance floor doing his thing.  Mom was dancing to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”.  Nanette was grooving to “I throw my hands up in the air sometime”.

Claire's Ring.

Then, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” came on, and we girls went berserk.  It brought me back to their engagement party last May, end of the night, and all the girls had a dance party in my parents sun room to this song.  Ironically, it was the night before Whitney died, so in some way, we were paying tribute to her and her brilliance.

The dance floor was packed.  A few times, it had to be rebuilt as there was so much partying on it, the dance floor just couldn’t take it.  Come 2am, I was still dancing, and was so proud.

I looked out onto the lawn and saw so many people talking, laughing, hanging by the bar. It was the best party I’ve ever been to.

Bobby's a Married Man!

JP took over the dance floor a few times.  He loves music, and he loves to dance.  He tends to be the life of the party when he’s at a wedding.  Several times he was in the middle of a big circle dancing his pants off.

Then at once point during the night, he was dancing and started to take off his tie, then his shirt, then the belt was next.  I was standing by, watching, thinking to myself– do I stop this?  I’m too busy laughing to really discipline him.  Then, from behind me, my very sober brother David yelled out “Take It Off!”.  That was all the kid needed.  Off came the belt.  Okay.  Show’s over JP.  But, damn, that kid can boogie!

Around 2:30am, the crowd started to shrink a bit.  It’s been a 10 hour party so far.  Mom and Dad said their goodbyes as well, and headed back to Hemingways.  I caught another wind, and continued the dance party with my new friends and my sibs.

The First Kiss!

However, by 4:30am, I officially hit my wall.  The legs could no longer move. The arms were heavy.  I knew I had pushed myself beyond my limits and my body was not too happy.  I weeble-wobbled over to Bobby and Claire, and said Good Night.  No, I could not wait until the sunrise with you until 6:30am.

I needed to go to sleep,  Now.

I crept back through the woods with Lindsay, praying that the two of us wouldn’t trip and faceplant into the trees.  It was the blind leading the blind on this walk home.  I dragged myself into the house, got in my PJs, and was asleep within seconds.

The remaining wedding troopers stayed up to watch the sunrise on the beaches of the Indian Ocean.  Bobby and Claire made it with them to start a new day, and their new life together.

Bryn Mawr Rehab, September 2011

Bryn Mawr Rehab, September 2011

I had a dream that night that I was able to walk down the aisle for my brother’s wedding.  I was able to dance for hours.  I was able to drink Tusker all night. I was able to stay up until 4:30am and party.

Oh, No. Wait.  That wasn’t a dream.  That was my reality.

Bobby and Claire sat with me in the hospital when I was sick.  They drove down several times to just sit and talk to me.  It can get very lonely in a hospital, but I never was.  That is how much love I felt.  I hope that they felt it in return on this day.

Looks Like We Made It!

Bobby told me many years ago that he has so much love to give.  He just need to find someone to give it to.

He found her.

Thank you for joining me on my African Journey!



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by BZ on April 9, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Suzy: Your writing is wonderful. Thanks for bringing back all of the wonderful memories that Lucy and I will never forget. Luv ya, BZ


  2. Posted by Stuart Eastwood on April 2, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Great stuff Suz. And yes, i do approve! Of Bob I mean!


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