Yes. It was “all about me” in the first place. It was one of those deliciously selfish, “Why can’t I have this?” songs. My wallowing in it – my interpretation – was a lovely version of “But WHAT ABOUT ME????”
Then came that endless week – not even a week – when my Grandma was slipping away. And, no, she was not leaving gently and romantically, but struggling for breath and crying out in the night. I’m sorry, but I will never “pretty it up.” I cannot.
They forced me to go home at some point each day so that I could try and sleep without one eye open and listening intently all the while. This was the song I listened to as I drove back and forth to her condominium. And the very first time I heard it during that time, it became HER song. It was my promise that I was there all night, every night, even if I didn’t know how I could truly ease a journey like that. I don’t know if my words and my singing were irksome or soothing. And at this point I most certainly must not second guess it any more.
I thought about you a lot this week, Grandma, and I told the story of being with you when you left this world. I tried to explain what a privilege it was, yet how I struggled with the idea that ANYONE, especially someone who’d been so patient and lived through the most unimaginable tragedies and joys, had to die that way. I stood in the LIVESTRONG Headquarters in front of the manifesto and looked at your beautiful ring that I only take off to shower and I cried again for you and for all the collective loss suffered by that amazing group of people. Then, because there was ALWAYS someone to put their arm around you in such remarkable company, I cried for the beauty of a singleness of purpose in which we try to make the world better.
And since that first week of January, 2009, it has remained your song:
When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
And when the day has all but ended
And our echo starts to fade
No you will not be alone then
And you will not be afraid
No you will not be afraid
When the fog has finally lifted
From my cold and tired brow
No I will not leave you crying
And I will not let you down
No I will not let you down
I will not let you down
Now comes the night
Feel it fading away
And the soul underneath
Is it all that remains
So just slide over here
Leave your fear in the fray
Let us hold to each other
Until the end of our days
When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
No you will not be alone
Oh, Grandma, I think I need it back – just for a bit. I know the danger of self-pity and wallowing (yes, I know – WHAT???). But I need to find the hope; I need to find it in myself and then believe that I have enough value that someone will make this promise to ME at some point in my life. I promise it will be about you again. Or perhaps someone else who needs, in the dark, to know that someone is there to hear them when they cry out.
It’s just SO amazing that I decided to insert my finger INTO the sewing machine while making a hat from this fabric:
Rather than THIS fabric:
That’s how I roll. Each heavily bleeding wound should MATCH the material with which you are working.
ADDENDUM, January 12, 2012, 4:07 a.m.:
Grateful I sewed the BYU hat FIRST as the blood would not have been hidden as it was in the University of Utah crimson. And when it comes down to it, TOTALLY worth it:
And the other half of the cutest in-family and in-State rivalry:
Last year, I helped (in a fairly minor way) with the amazing CROSS OUT CANCER event. My superior gift basket swathing and be-ribboning skilz were useful for some of the items at the silent auction and I was honoured to serve as the official LIVESTRONG representative.
I cannot emphasize enough how impressed I was with the O’Leary family and with Utah Cyclocross. With their enthusiasm and dedication they put together an amazing event and earned over $28,000 for LIVESTRONG. Connor O’Leary, the honoree of last year’s event, is now a testicular cancer survivor. In fact, last year’s took place on his last day of chemo. He and his father (also a cancer survivor) made this great video:
Please join us this year for another amazing day at the historic Wheeler Farm (6351 S 900 E, Salt Lake City, Utah) on Saturday, October 22, 2011 and participate in any of a number of activities. The schedule for the fund-raising events is as follows:
Whether you want to watch the races, bid at the auction, run or ride for someone special in the the 5K or the CROSS OUT CANCER Fun Ride, it’s guaranteed to be an amazing morning. Please visit the Utah Cyclocross website for more information on Cyclocross and on this event (you can register for all events online and I’ve provided links in the schedule above). During October, Wheeler Farms is also offering a Pumpkin Patch, a Hay Maze and a Hay Ride. See their website for times and admission prices for these fun activities.
And please feel free to contact me if you have any questions (unless you need information about bicycles, for in that case I will regale you with childhood tales of how my friends and I rode our three-speeds WITHOUT HELMETS here and there and everywhere SOMETIMES took my mother’s bicycle and put someone in the baby seat!).
Please join Northern Utah Supporting LIVESTRONG at the Megaplex 17 Theatres at Jordan Commons for LIVESTRONG Day! I’ll be at the vendor counter in the main lobby from opening to closing handing out wristbands, information and holding a raffle. MORE INFO TO COME.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions!
Kate Bartholomew, Leader
Northern Utah Supporting LIVESTRONG
P.S. Whether or not you can make it to this event, I’d love to honor you or a friend and/or loved one. I will be posting cards (“In Memory Of,” “In Honor of,” and “Survivor”). If you message or email me a name, I’ll post it and send you back a photo of the card.
Please join us when the inspiring documentary My Run comes to more than 500 movie theaters nationwide for a ONE NIGHT ONLY premiere event on Thursday, March 31st.
This film is so important to raising awareness of so many issues including the power of the human spirit. Mr. Hitchcock’s vision and story is one I will never forget.
-Doug Ulman President/CEO of LIVESTRONG.
My Run will be donating a portion of all ticket sales to the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Please support this important film and witness what’s possible when physical endurance and the will of the human spirit unite in My Run.
Join me (us) for an unforgettable one night event…
We’re all running a marathon one way or another. Whether it is staying afloat as a single, working parent, battling a disease or trying to conquer a fear, it all involves a fight. Join us for an unforgettable inspirational story about a 57-year-old man who ran 75 consecutive marathons in 75 consecutive days. The award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary MY RUN is coming to movie theaters nationwide for an exclusive one night premiere event on Thursday, March 31st at 7:00pm (Local Time).
Terry Hitchcock battles the grief of losing his wife to breast cancer by setting out on a journey to bring awareness and a voice to the struggles faced by single parent families and their children. Narrated by Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton, this powerful and uplifting documentary exemplifies a commitment to something greater than yourself and achieving something deemed impossible.
Following the feature, audiences will take a deeper look into the story through interviews with the star Terry Hitchcock and his son, support team member Chris Hitchcock.
A portion of proceeds from the MY RUN Premiere event will benefit the Livestrong Foundation. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at www.fathomevents.com/myrun.
“MY RUN is a bright shiny light in a world that can feel hopeless”
-Indie Movie Examiner
Want to do more? Visit that World Cancer Day site to find more suggestions. Please help!
I received a lovely selection of gifts and candies in my Christmas stocking (which is a freakin’ awesome homemade concoction, but that’s a story for another time). I also received this item (Oh, yes! As SEEN ON TV):
What a fantabulous idea! Save your soda for LATER without loss all that invigorating carbonation! Oh – here is great
propaganda description straight from a very educational website: AsSeenOnTVGuys.com:
Bottle Top As Seen On TV Features:
– Keeps the fizz
– Helps avoid spills
– Just wash and re-use
– Fits most beverage cans
– Keeps carbonation longer
– Assorted colors – Avoid drink mix-ups
Bottle Tops is the new product that turns your ordinary soda pop or beer can into a soda pop or beer bottle. Bottle Top turns your can into a spill-proof bottle. One size fits all cans. Just snap onto the top and enjoy your favorite beverage without spills. Keep unfinished drinks full of carbonation with the snap-on top sealing in freshness. Reusable and great for travel. Set of twelve in six different colors.
Bottle Top is a great invention that everyone’s got to have. Imagine turning your favorite drink can into your favorite bottle drink. It’s easy to do, just snap on Bottle Top and your done. Bottle Top keeps your soda carbonated because it has a tight leak proof seal. So now you can travel with your canned drink without the fear of spilling. It’s especially great for children. Bottle Top’s lid top prevents bugs from crawling into your drink at picnics. Finally there’s a way to enjoy economical canned drinks with the benefits and convenience of a re-sealable bottle. So get your Bottle Top now!
Ooooh! How handy! How useful! What a crock!
Ostensibly, you just “snap it on.” I of course thought I needed to try this out. I was having a little difficulty, I admit. I thought I could finesse it, and all was going well, I was using my left hand, mainly (I am NOT left-handed nor unreasonably strong, I should add) and whilst attempting to “snap” the “Bottle Top” onto my soda can I managed to literally COLLAPSE the thing and EXPLODE its contents over a surprisingly wide area. SURPRISE!
After cleaning diet soda with a touch of lemon juice of myself and the floor and a variety of kitchen surfaces, I was determined not to be defeated by a STOCKING STUFFER and thought I’d have another go.
I VERY, very gently tried to “snap” the “Bottle Top” onto a new can of soda. Let’s just say I am, at this moment, drinking an extraordinarily banged up and dented can of soda, SANS “Bottle Top.”
My assessment in a nutshell: The “Bottle Top” should be called the “Bottle Crusher and Exploder of DOOM.” I’ll get my people on it.
POSTSCRIPT: So later Christmas day my brother walks into the room with the “Bottle Crusher and Exploder of DOOM” successfully placed ON a soda. He bandied words such as “finesse” and “instructions” about. When I protested he and my mother both came back at me with the phrase, “Man Hands.” Whatever. Pfft.
POSTSCRIPT II: THE REVENGE (December 30, 2010) I have now sustained an injury from the “Bottle Crusher and Exploder of Doom.” Yet I still have not successfully ensconced one on a can.
My older sister, who is, incidentally, SUPER WOMAN, will sometimes patiently listen to me bemoan the current troubles and turmoil of my life. Then I will feel guilty, because, as far as troubles and turmoil go, it often seems like Shirleen has won the sweepstakes. I will apologize, and then, because she is wise (and SUPER WOMAN), she will say, “It’s not a contest.” It is a lovely acknowledgement that we all have struggles and she that validates mine in spite of what might be happening to her. Of course I love her dearly.
And I really take that sentiment to heart: IT’S NOT A CONTEST. Everyone has personal demons. Everyone is entitled to bad days or bad weeks or even bad years. Some problems, unfortunately, TAKE years with which to deal. There are real and serious maladies, physical and mental (which IS physical in that it’s usually chemical), that can take what seems a lifetime to resolve or just manage. Therefore, I must confess, personally I’d like to take up the RIGHT to such predicaments with the “Buck up” brigades or the “yank yourself up by your bootstraps” contingent; indeed, I have some choice words I could share with the whole “suck it up and get over it as quickly as possible for it makes me uncomfortable and I tire of it” club. For not EVERYTHING can be wished or “positively thought” away.
Shirleen could sit and very dispassionately tell the story of her life and silence them all. SHOCK and AWE, I tell you. OR, my “Best Girl,” Lindsay, could SHUT THEM UP. Shut them up BIG TIME.
It would only take two words: Eleven years. Lindsay has fought not one, but TWO primary cancers for ELEVEN YEARS. Today, in fact, is her “cancerversary.” At age seventeen she was diagnosed with brain stem glioma. Her prognosis was beyond grim. But despite the cancer, and despite life experiences that would have destroyed the best and bravest of the Greek or Roman mythic heroes, she is STILL HERE. Years and years of chemotherapy and radiation and surgeries and batteries of tests and a SECOND major diagnosis – Multiple Myeloma – she is STILL HERE. For eleven years she has been in treatment or in physical and/or occupational therapy to RECOVER from treatment.
In addition to treatments, during these eleven years she has managed to work (HARD), attend classes (I do believe she’s the only person I know – nay – the only person I’ve ever HEARD OF who has passed classes WHILE IN A COMA, but that’s a story for another time) and take a trip here and there. This is in addition to her regular activities of taking care of OTHER people.
Now, it’s important that I explain to you that Lindsay is a FOREIGNER (not unlike my Soul Sister, Henrike) except she speaks a fascinating dialect of English, as she is from Regina (“Rhymes With Fun” – you’ll either get that or be flummoxed – if you are flummoxed, you aren’t MEANT to get it, trust me), Saskatchewan (in the Foreign country of CANADA). Get this: They don’t have mountains there!
She was able to visit me last March, not too long after she finished a BRUTAL clinical trial for her Multiple Myeloma. Ironically, we spent a certain amount of time doing what I’ve done when I’ve been in Canada: We stood in various stores – especially convenience stores – comparing the snacks and items that the other country does NOT have. I find this endlessly amusing. Then, a few months ago, I had the AMAZING privilege of rooming with Henrike, my Soul Sister, AND Lindsay, my Best Girl, in Austin, Texas at the LIVESTRONG Challenge.
While I battled personal demons and a
clusterfu – em – debacle with the airline and was late to Austin, Henrike (with a SERIOUS leg injury – the extent of which was not revealed until she was back in Germany) and Lindsay, with her mighty cane, did the 5K walk. Yes, they took a slight detour, but they DID IT; they received their yellow roses. Sadly, I was ON the plane at the time, but the thought of my two dear friends achieving that goal together is very moving.
Lindsay, who has an INCREDIBLY generous heart and is loathe to “bother” or “cause trouble” for anyone, has supported ME – sometimes from her hospital bed. She is a true friend. She is the DEFINITION and POSTER CHILD of true friend. She always wants me to remember how “amazing” that I am. We have this back and forth argument (of the mocking variety) wherein I respond to that with, “No, YOU!” Sometimes we agree to AGREE.
I grant you, Lindsay has some bad days (some REALLY bad days if you consider them objectively), but she tries not to complain. She CERTAINLY does not complain widely or loudly, so to speak. On December 10th, (yes, on her “cancerversary”) one year ago today, she was suddenly faced with the prospect of being put in a medical coma. She found a friend to take her phone to text updates to me, but before they actually medicated her into the coma, she went under on her own. It was a completely and utterly terrifying time and I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. And LINDSAY – you’ve tried it before, but you are NOT to apologize for any of this – it was ALL beyond your control. Besides, YOU were the one going through hell; it’s about YOU not ME.
I won’t go into too many details, but I received the most chilling text message from Jen (Lindsay’s friend in charge of updates) at the salon just as I’d had a cut and style. She sent it in real time, so for several horrible moments… I cannot describe it. A second message finally tempered the first a bit. I stayed calm, somehow, until I was in my car and I tried to relate the story to a mutual friend who was keeping tabs on her, too.
Considering some of the events while she was under, and the fact that the longer she in a coma the worse her chances of coming out AT ALL were, every day counted. But Lindsay hadn’t fought ten years (at that point) for nothing. With the whole Facebook and Twitter cancer communities behind her, sending prayers and thoughts to her, she performed a Christmas miracle. Yes, I believe in miracles because of Lindsay. On Christmas day, 2009, she FULLY woke up. She’d given a few encouraging signs in the days before, but that day she TOOK her phone from Jen’s hands and texted me herself. Hands down, the best Christmas present ever.
So today, Lindsay, on your eleventh “Cancerversary,” I want you to know how amazing YOU are. No, it’s not a contest. But if it WERE a contest, you’d WIN (which, I grant, is a mixed bag of prizes). I know this day is not scheduled how you’d like it to be. I know you are STILL deeply entrenched in this journey – this journey that seems endless to you sometimes. But you are here for a reason. You inspire me, as you inspire so many others. I love you, my Best Girl!