When I was a kid, each summer in my town, we had a March of Dimes bike-a-thon. The organizers would block off one of the subdivisions and all us kids would converge around 8 o’clock in the morning to get a pep talk and to begin the ride. Every kid in town must have come out to that bike-a-thon each summer. I had no idea what the March of Dimes was, it seemed like a silly name. I knew there was always a cute kid on the pamphlet — that’s about all I knew. But, I went door to door and got anyone I could to pledge a nickel or a dime or if I was lucky a quarter for every lap around that subdivision I road… there were prizes you see. Not just plastic toys or hula hoops — bikes, brand new 10 speed bikes with hand brakes, donated by the only place in town that sold bicycles… the lawn mower shop.
Oh how I wanted that prize.
And every year, I returned to the bike-a-thon with my pledge sheet filled to try again and every year I left with no prize.
I was a kid.
That’s what kids are supposed to do.
I’ve never been in a competition where I gathered sponsors or asked for donations since those days of the bike-a-thons, until now.
Now, I’m an adult, I know what the prize is, I know who benefits from the money raised, I know the amazing woman who belongs to the beautiful smile in the picture.
There’s five weeks left until race day, plenty of time to donate… so, please do.
Posts Tagged ‘Becky Sain’
When my son was in the sixth grade, he had a girlfriend. Like most romances that take place in the sixth grade, it was short-lived… it ended when his “I want to break up” note got to her before her “I want to break up” note got to him.
In the sixth grade, that’s the way the world spins — sometimes predictable and rotating calming, sometimes spinning wildly and madly.
A few days after the “break up”, he came to me upset. The grandmother of the young girl had sent him a private message on Facebook, in it she wrote that she was disappointed in him, she expected better from him, she couldn’t believe he had broken her grand-daughters heart. As I read this message from her, that I doubt would have ever come to life had it not been for this feeling of anonymity that we get typing from our keyboards — we say things through our computers that we would never imagine saying face to face, we behave differently… the computer lends itself to an air of “make-believe”, but that’s another story for another day, as I read this message to my son, in the sixth grade, from a little girls grandmother, my blood boiled with an anger that, I believe, only erupts in a few people on a few occasions — this was my occasion.
I was angry.
I was livid.
I was ready to gnash my teeth and bear my claws.
But, I paused and looked at him, his round sixth grade boyish face, frightened and upset that this adult, who he didn’t know, was now disappointed in him. It’s easy to see confusion racing through the mind of a sixth grade boy, they don’t cloak their feelings, it’s there, in their eyes. I told him that this woman was upset and it had nothing to do with him. I told him to forward me any other messages he got from her. I told him I would take care of it. Of course, to him, this meant I was going to track this grandmother down and drop her with a quick and decisive punch to the kidneys (in my mind, this is what I did and it was spectacular) — I assured him, everything would be fine.
I sent the grandmother a reply and let her know that what she had done was not okay. I reminded her that these were sixth graders, I reminded her my son was a real person and not some imaginary being she could chastise from the safety of her keyboard — I made my point and she apologized, repeatedly.
It wasn’t Mother’s Day when this happened, it was just a day — maybe it was a Tuesday or Saturday, maybe it was January or maybe May. It was a day, a day when I was not necessarily a mother, but a caring person, a caring woman.
Mother’s Day is a time when I find myself in an emotional limbo — I don’t fit in with the daughters who are mourning the memories of their mothers, I don’t fit in with the daughters who are celebrating with their mothers. I don’t know where I belong on this continuum of mourning and happiness. I hope to fit in with all the women who provide nurturing and caring, kindness and strength, the women who listen and who respond — you don’t have to give birth to someone to care and respect and show compassion for them.
My children see me triumph and fail, they see me laugh and cry, they see me angry and compassionate — and from that they grow, we grow. Not just one day a year, but every day. I hope that my children never find confusion in Mother’s Day, that they never feel the loss or the burden of this day that comes around just once a year. Every day our battles are fought and sometimes won, every day we choose to hold someone’s heart, gently — as we spin wildly, and madly.
Last week on twitter, when hearing the news of Roger Eberts death, I tweeted this:
If cancer has blown your world apart, every time you hear of another death, a piece of you is cut out and trampled on.
It must have struck a chord with many others, it was “retweeted” and “favorited” and passed around many times.
It was what I was feeling, I didn’t know Roger Ebert. I used to watch Siskel and Ebert on Saturday mornings to see what movies they were bashing and sometimes praising and often I’d argue with the TV screen. But hearing of his death, like hearing of the death of Nora Ephron, or that girl I went to high school with, or the grocery checker who was always so nice… it affected me, they all affected me.
Cancer has blown my world apart, so often that I’m not sure if it was all one big explosion or several smaller ones linked together, like a mega roll of firecrackers rolled out and lit… the bangs go on forever — I hate firecrackers.
The aftermath of cancer, the picking up of the pieces, the stringing reality back together, the return to a normal existence… those are the things that take longer than it did for the cancer to take over a body and destroy it — cancer lingers. When someone dies of cancer, it doesn’t end there, because cancer has invaded you, your life, your world is now a world that contains cancer. It has you in its grips forever, you are never free of it — death does not destroy cancer.
It is the constant background noise to your life, the ceaseless ringing in your ears. I am not brave before it, I cower, I lower my head, I try not to be seen by it. But, it makes sure I know it sees me, there is no corner dark enough to conceal me from it.
I forget, briefly, in those periods in between hearing how its taken over another persons body. I forget. But, never for long. The periods of forgetfulness become shorter each day. Each day I hear of a friend who has been diagnosed, a spouse of a co-worker, a favorite professor, a screenwriter who made me laugh. When cancer has blown your world apart, every time you hear of another death, a piece of you is cut out and trampled on.
Pieces of me are scattered around — pieces from my father, pieces from my mother, pieces from my brother-in-law, pieces from my dog, pieces from friends and co-workers and friends of friends and complete strangers… I have been trampled on by cancer.
I wish I could tie these thoughts up like a beautiful package under the tree on Christmas morning — when you open it, out pops bravery and triumph and fearlessness. But, that’s not the case. There are no ornate pink bows big enough to cover up cancer… it’s ugly and ruthless and cunning.
Often now, my fear and cowering is accompanied by an over-bearing hatred. Maybe that’s what we should hope for, that we become so pissed off at this monster that we are moved to action, not just reaction.
After all, if you believe they put a man on the moon, the ability to stop this creature shouldn’t be far off.
Please visit the following sites:
Lisa Bonchek Adams Giving Page
Lisa Bonchek Adams Blog
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
My youngest is having a Valentine’s Day card exchange tomorrow at her school. We’re busy addressing cards to all her classmates and decorating a shoe box, perfectly, with just the right amount of hearts.
I’ve never been one to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Even while I was married, we never did anything special, it was just another day. I remember in school getting a few cards from boys I thought were cute, that was nice. But, I cared more about decorating that shoe box and hoping I would win the prize for the best decorated box than I did hoping some boy would want me to be his Valentine. One year, my dad and I made the most fantastic box… it was shaped like a mail box and had Snoopy and Woodstock lying on the top. I remember spray painting it black and my dad carefully carving out a sleeping Snoopy for the top. That’s what I remember, not which boy I hoped wanted me to be his Valentine.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about me “dating”. I had been “dating” someone for a few months and my friend commented that he was glad to see I was “moving on”. My brain stopped focusing at that very moment. I lost track of anything else that was said. I remember fighting my voice to stay quiet when it so desperately wanted to spit out a slur of angry boisterous words. I’ve since stopped dating that person, and those words, “moving on”, have hung on to every active brain cell I have.
There is this belief in our world that to be complete as a person, we must be attached to another person. I believed it too, for a very long time. I was married but was far from happy. I had someone to spend 18 years of Valentine’s Days with, but I certainly was more splintered than whole. I believed so strongly that being with someone, even if you were unhappy, must be far better than being alone. That belief kept me in a situation that ripped tiny pieces of me out with each passing day. I wasn’t alone, I was lonely. I distinctly know the difference between the two.
Being alone and being lonely are two completely different situations.
I love being alone.
When I’m alone, I write and I paint and I read and I vacuum and I eat peanut butter off of a spoon for dinner.
I go camping and hiking and running.
I sit and I think.
I quiet my soul and I breathe.
I am not lonely.
I am alive with love, on Valentine’s Day and every day.
I am filled with enough love to know that if being in a relationship involves me giving up the wonderful pieces of myself that I am just beginning to uncover or hiding those pieces in fear that they won’t be accepted, it isn’t love. Being with someone who is less than what you deserve just so others can see a person hanging on your arm, isn’t love. Love is what we all deserve… what we all have, if we just open our eyes to see it.
Love for ourselves.
Love for others.
Love for someone special.
I won’t attach myself to someone because they seem “nice enough”, I won’t repeat the mistakes of the past because I’m scared of what you might think if I go to the movies alone.
A Valentine’s Day will arrive when I find myself attached to another person and I will welcome that day like a child welcoming the first snowfall of winter. But I’m not watching the clock tick, waiting. I’m not standing still and refusing to be alive awaiting the arrival of someone who may or may not exist. The world around me needs to know that, the world around us needs to know that being whole is who we are individually. I’m a whole person, alone.
I’m not attached to another person this Valentine’s Day and am looking forward to eating peanut butter off a spoon for dinner. I won’t play the role of an “attached person” just so the world around me will think I “moved on”.
I “moved on” the day I had the courage to be alone.
Sometimes the mind races, never stopping, never slowing, never pausing… never giving the rest of your being a chance to catch its breath. You reach too far and too often. You pull too hard and too relentlessly. And your mind continues, mocking you, knowing you can’t get control of it, knowing it is so close to spinning you out of control it can smell the angst. You’ve been there before. Every shoe has already dropped, there’s no need to wait for the next one — every shoe has already dropped. Then, like a kid waking on Christmas morning, you realize the gift has arrived.
The gift of knowing the pit you fell into doesn’t exist anymore because you boarded it up, you took every tool out of your magical bag and sweated and carefully covered the pit with your truth because your truth is so strong and so right and so promising. You wipe the angst from your brow and your mind quiets, finally, it quiets. Sometimes the mind breaks quickly, the shoes drop loudly and angrily… you stop. But sometimes it’s slow, cracks develop, but you keep going because they’re so small and so subtle — no one sees them but you, and you see them clearly. You know how every crack was formed. Then the realization of another gift, the gift of continuing. The gift of becoming. The gift of breathing deep and exhaling fully.
Quiet your mind.
Name your cracks.
Cover the pits.
No more shoes will drop.
Live this moment.