This week finds me thinking a lot about life…it’s beginnings, how we live it, and how it ends. (anyone want to bail now? this is a long one and it only gets deeper from here.) On Monday, my new niece, Emma Grace, came into the world. She is just gorgeous, with cheeks that absolutely drip off her face and the fullest head of hair I have ever seen on a newborn. This is child number two for my husband’s brother and his wife who also have a little boy. My kids just have the two cousins so they were excited to meet the new baby. My daughter loves babies and was over the moon – despite a few days of disappointment when she learned that Auntie Mimi and Uncle Kevin did not name the baby Rainbow Sunflower as she had requested.
This week I also learned that friends of mine from work are expecting. I was able to see the pictures from their first ultrasound and we talked about what fruit size the baby is this week – a lime? a lemon? Amazing. I am thrilled for them and welled up a few times watching their excitement and joy. They will be remarkable parents. Of this, I have no doubt.
I also chatted, this week, with another dear friend who is pregnant with her second child and on bed rest. (This is my friend who ran for the bus with me…see “Peas & Corn” 3/17/09) Her son was born prematurely and there have been some signs of possible preterm labor, so she is on bed rest and doing her best to stay pregnant. She is incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about this pregnancy and I envy her strength. I also question, knowing her inability to not be busy, whether she is actually in bed right now. Rest up, DG! ; ) You’re remarkable!
Also this week, I have needed to take pause and think about the end of life. On Thursday, I learned that the mother of two of my childhood friends passed away last weekend. Their family owns the greatest pizza place in my hometown and I have the fondest memories of her, seated at a table, greeting all the regular customers as they came by. I always loved the way her kids called her “Ma” and can picture her daughter standing behind her with her arms draped over Ma’s shoulders. She would reach up and hold onto her daughter’s arms but would not miss a beat in the conversation. When I was 8, her oldest son, a teenager at the time, promised to marry me when I got older. Ma winked and gave her blessing. Years later when he did get married to his beautiful wife, I reminded him of his broken promise and my broken heart. We still laugh about it sometimes. I am thinking about you, Georgia and Harry, and I hold your mom in my heart. Rest in peace, Zoe Triantafilles. You will be missed.
This week also brought news that an esteemed colleague is very ill. Bob is, perhaps, the smartest, most intriguing man, I have ever met. Often I have been intimidated by his brilliance, but once you get to talking with him, you find out quickly how gentle and kind to the core he really is. I would describe him as eccentric, extraordinary and a real cool cat. He has wispy, white hair which lands at mid-neck; he walks quickly, has a broad chest, and is clearly physically fit; he wears shorts through the winter (a colleague told me he does it in deviance of winter – a refusal to let winter win); he always has stacks of books near by, if not tucked beneath his arms; and his desk is an absolute avalanche of paper. He is an award-winning teacher of Latin whose students adore, respect, and miss him. Another colleague recently visited Bob in the hospital and he shared some of Bob's thoughts. He asked us to “focus on doing what you can for each other.” He also wanted to know if people were thinking of him. We are.
I think because this week has brought a lot of news about births, illness, and death, I have also been thinking about Bridget. For those of you who do not know her story, Bridget is a college friend of mine, who lost her short but courageous battle with cancer in August, not long after the premature birth of her second child. If you have followed my blog, you have heard me mention Bridget and the strength of her friends and family. Bridget’s husband, Steve, has really been the inspiration behind my blog. He has kept a blog since shortly after Bridget’s diagnosis (nearly one year ago). His blog has been many things to many people and I thank him for sharing.
You can read more about Bridget here: http://www.evening4bridget.org/Homepage.html
Evening for Bridget raised money for Dana Farber and for Bridget’s daughters’ schooling. Here is an excerpt from a letter sent by one of the organizers:
We are very pleased to report that we have donated over $47,000 to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the name of Bridget K. Slotemaker. As a reminder, these funds have been earmarked to Dr. Ann Partridge, who founded the program "Young and Strong". Ann is a remarkable woman who is incredibly committed to the fight against cancer, especially for women 40 and younger. In addition to the clinical research components that Ann leads, this program also serves as an incredible support resource for patients and their families. We believe the Young and Strong program is a very fitting recipient from monies raised from "An Evening for Bridget", as we support the brave and courageous young women and their families battling this horrible disease.
I encourage you to read more about Dr. Partridge and the Young and Strong Program.
Speaking of Young and Strong…this weekend also marks Sherri’s 3-year Cancer-Free anniversary. Her diagnosis, surgery and treatment sometimes feel like they happened yesterday and sometimes it feels like a million years ago. But one thing is for sure, I am grateful for every second of these 3 years. I am thrilled to be taking this journey with Sherri. You rock, girl!
All these things flooded my thoughts today as I walked my longest training walk to date. Our training schedule called for an 8-mile day yesterday and a 6-mile day today. Since I wanted to attend funeral services yesterday, I walked just 4.5 miles. Therefore, I decided to make it a long one today. Tommy and the kids dropped me off in Newton Lower Falls and I walked the Boston Marathon route back to Framingham. A whopping 10.5 miles! I’m sore, for sure, but feel great.
The thing that kept me walking today was not just the thoughts of birth and illness and death and survival – but about the choices we make when we are able. I feel blessed to have my health and so I am trying to make the most of it. I am blessed with a beautiful family and so I want to be around for them and I want to enjoy them totally. I want this for others too. I had on my “training my butt off” t-shirt and a woman who was out running with a jogging stroller, stopped at an intersection to ask what I am training for. “It’s a good thing you’re doing,” she said. “Keep going.” She’s right. I thought about Bob’s words. It is important to focus on what we can do for each other. It is also important to let others know that you are thinking of them. We all want to know that others are thinking of us. Bob was brave enough to wonder aloud. So tell someone you are thinking of them. You don't have to walk 60 miles to make a difference. It's the little things.
Thanks for thinking of me. It makes a difference.