Happy Birthday Madelyne

Four years ago today, a baby girl was born. Her mother is my husband’s niece, but we had no idea she was even pregnant. Her birthday itself was insignificant to us. I only recall it as the Monday before Thanksgiving and we were expecting a houseful of people. It was sort of an “orphans” holiday per se. Lots of people who were far away from their biological families would be joining us. But, I considered them as much my family as any blood relative.

Through a series of magnificent events, within 24 hours, the aforementioned baby was in our care and we spent Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family who would become a significant part of her life even though she may never know it. Just like us, those people welcomed her into their lives….cared for her and loved her in the same way that they did us and our 9 year old son. It was a beautiful picture of a family being knit together, not necessarily by blood, but by love.

While Madelyne is no longer living with us, she is forever in our hearts. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of her and miss her. Time and distance has dulled the pain of letting her go, but the love in our hearts is still strong.

And as for the people who came alongside us during that time…..it’s hard to express my gratitude in words. It’s been said that you find out who your friends are in times of trial. Sometimes that means that people you thought might be there for you aren’t. In this case, we experienced the opposite. The outpouring of love and support still humbles me.

This Thanksgiving was different. We spent it with people who, 4 years ago, I never could have imagined knowing, but who have become dear friends. But, I found myself missing those people from that 2008 Thanksgiving more than usual. I remembered the food that they brought to my house that day. I remember the conversations vividly. I remember people passing the baby around, giving her the love she so deserved and that I believe continues to live in her and sustain her. It certainly lives in and sustains us.

Happy Birthday, Miss Baby. You didn’t just change our lives….you changed the lives of countless others in so many ways. You belong to a whole community of people who you may never know, but who are knit together by the shared experience of loving you.

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5 for Angi

I was starting to write a post about how Thanksgiving is a weird holiday for me.  I was prepared to lament a little bit about how the ghost of Thanksgiving past sometimes interferes with my ability to fully enjoy Thanksgiving present.

Then, this link showed up on my Facebook feed through a friend of mine.

5forAngi

It took my breath away for a moment.  As I poked around and found the Facebook page, I saw something that Angi had posted:

I really don’t know what to say about this; thank you from the bottom of my heart to Kristi Haivala and Matt Wilczynski for creating this fundraiser. I am humbled, grateful, speechless, blessed.
Kristi and Matt couldn’t have known the timing of this; One year ago today I received a phone call from the pulmonary oncologist’s office confirmin
g that the suspicious mass biopsied in my lung was not lung cancer but instead metastatic melanoma. Some cells escaped from the skin melanoma I had surgery for the year before and nested in my lung. Just like with 9-11-01, I can remember exactly where I was when she called – Joe was midturn pulling the van into Memorial Sloan’s parking garage for us to meet with her and Dr. Adusumilli. She called me out of courtesy to give me time to mentally prepare for our meeting. That evening I found out that my furnace room was the most noise proofed room in our house, no one was able to hear me break down in there. It took Joe a little bit to find me, i can even remember the anguish in his face as he pulled me off the ground. It’s been a rough year. I learned a lot about myself – my strengths, my pain threshold, my faith, my weaknesses, but most importantly, just how blessed I am. – and I realized how much I actually liked my unruly red hair, it takes having something taken away to fully appreciate it! :)I would like to humbly ask my friends if you could share this link on your Facebook page. I can’t work right now, I wanted to go back to work so I could take care of this upcoming copay, math tutoring at least, but my health is too unpredictable thanks to the side effects of my medicine. As you guys have read in my posts, I’ll get one glorious evening of feeling ‘normal’ and then get a week of payback in bed.I thank you in advance, thank my friends that have already shared this before I even woke up today, and especially thank Matt and Kristi for creating this. Kristi I love you, I’m sorry the stupid cancer cancelled my trip to see you and Gina, I pray we’ll see each other soon. Thank you everyone, and thank you for everyone who has prayed for me this past year, sent me notes and touching gifts (Jaime the orchid is still alive, sort of!), and who has offered me encouraging words to continue fighting even on the days I just wanted to crawl in a hole and cry. I’ve never fought something like this, its surreal, and pray none of my family and friends ever have to. Love, me

 

I don’t know Angi.  But, from the little bit I have gleaned about her from reading her story, I know I would like her.  And, come on…who wouldn’t want to be friends with this girl:

But, I know what it’s like to spend Thanksgiving in a hospital, unsure of what the year ahead will hold.  I know what it’s like to watch your best friend battle cancer at a young age.  I know what it’s like to be a mother and how fiercely you love your children.  I can’t for even one second pretend to know what it’s like to be a mother facing this kind of illness.  I can’t imagine having to make a decision like deployment during war time in order to pay for medication.  It’s not right.  Joe needs to be home with his family.

This Thanksgiving, as you prepare to feast around a table with family and friends and give thanks for all of the things that you have to be thankful for, I hope you’ll remember Angi and her family in your prayers.  And, before you go out shopping on Black Friday, or better yet, Small Business Saturday, I hope you’ll consider sending $5 to help Angi and her family.

For most of us, $5 is so little that we spend it without thinking.  For her, it could mean a life-saving treatment with her husband by her side.

Donate today!

Thanks for making a difference.

Meet Angi

Happy Thanksgiving.

Social Distortion

I’m not spitting mad anymore. Now, I vacillate between amusement, dismay, happiness and more dismay.

I am happy with the outcome of Tuesday’s election. That’s about as much as you’ll see or hear me “gloat”. As I stated in my last post — everybody has a story that shapes their world view. Our stories are shaped by our families, our friends and our own experiences. And, these are quite likely to change as our lives progress. I had a conversation with someone recently who had never considered my position on the issue of health care simply because she had never been in my position — having a child with a complex medical history and making job decisions based on health insurance. At 24 and being a recent college graduate, there’s no way she could ever know the sleepless nights that a parent has wondering how to pay medical bills that aren’t covered because you’ve already reached your insurance cap. But, I appreciate that she acknowledged that and admitted that it shed a different light on her previous views. We had a civil, rational conversation in which minds were not changed but we treated each other with respect.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all of my interactions lately. Several of the blogs I read blame social media for the post-election ugliness that we are seeing (from all sides). We forget that there are actual people with actual feelings on the other side of our computer screen or smart phone. Even when we know those people personally and have an affection for them outside of this social media context, we forget that very often, they can see what we do and say, even if it’s not directly to them. And, hard as we try not to let it, it changes our relationships.

The day after the election, I posted this on my Facebook timeline:

I even tried to temper it with some humor…adding that I do draw the line at  baseball.  But, I still began to see my feed fill up with things that I can only describe as hateful.  And, then I go down this scary path of asking myself if I really can uphold this noble wisdom from Thomas Jefferson.

Social media tends to blur the lines of friendship, in my opinion.  In some cases, we think we know people better than we perhaps do, because we get peeks into their personal lives on a regular basis.  In other cases, we see different sides of people that we may not see in our regular interactions.  Both can have their pros and cons.  The biggest con that I’ve seen and experienced is that it tends to make people say and do things that they might not normally say and do in your actual presence.

I tend to use a lot of sarcasm and humor on Facebook.  I do this because 1) I tend to be sort of sarcastic in “real life” and 2) I am keenly aware of the incredibly diverse group of people that make up my friends list on Facebook.  By most people’s standards, I’m pretty much an open book.  I don’t mind if the Washington Post tells you which articles I read and I am not too squeamish about the pictures I post or personal information I give because I do it knowing that it’s there forever.  I have a list of people (mostly kids, including my own) that don’t seen certain status updates.  Before I hit post on any status update, I consider it from a variety of different standpoints because, as I stated before, I have a wide variety of friends who don’t always know where I am coming from.  And, I’ve had people ask…which is wonderful.  It gives me a chance to share my story with them and to also learn more about theirs.  And, I’ve never considered religion, politics or philosophy as a reason not to have somebody in my Facebook feed.

Until now.

In my “real life”, I tend to surround myself with people who I like and have fun with.  In a lot of cases, they are people who I align with politically.  In a lot of cases, they aren’t.  In some cases, they are people I align with from a religious standpoint (although I hate that word…. “religious”) and in far more many cases, they aren’t.  In some cases, they are people who’ve come into my life under a set of specific circumstances while in others, they are lifelong friends.  Whatever the case may be, they are people who I love for a variety of different reasons and every one of them drives me crazy from time to time (much less than the number of times I drive them crazy, I am sure), but I still love and cherish them because I have a relationship with them that is built on respect and admiration and authentic kindness.

The question is what to do with it?  The answer can’t be to just hide or un-friend them all.  It can’t be to limit my interactions to only those people whom I described above, because then nobody else would ever enter that circle.  I’ve been able to deepen relationships as well as get to know new friends in ways that might not have otherwise been possible without a platform like Facebook.  The wit and humor and wisdom from others isn’t worth giving up.  I guess I’m left with taking the advice I always give to my 13 year old:  “Just ignore them”.

The other day, I said “don’t be a jerk”.  Now, I’m just asking that you be kind.  Consider your words carefully because in the same way they can lift people up, they can also be very hurtful.

I used to like you, Tim Tebow

It’s been several weeks since I have posted and honestly today probably isn’t the day I should be dipping my toes back in the proverbial water.  I’ve had a fever for over a week and cough so hard I nearly pee my pants.  So, I guess that can serve as a disclaimer — or a warning.

I don’t normally talk about work online, but for the purposes of this post, it helps to know what I do for a living.  I’ve been a media buyer for 20 years.  Basically, when you see a commercial on TV or hear one on the radio, somebody like me has purchased that airtime.   I’ve worked for a variety of different clients over the years, but most recently I’ve worked for a political firm.  We represent political candidates as well as political action committees (PACs).   So….those ads that you are so sick of?  Firms like mine make a living making sure those ads are on the air.   I’ve had people say some rotten things to me about what I do, but I am under no illusion that anything I do personally has any deciding factor in any election.  What I do know is that I’m good at my job and I work for a decent company run by good people.

Working in this business has made me a little cynical about…well, everything political.  It’s also taught me to take things with a grain of salt and find the humor in it all.  That’s been a survival tool on Facebook in recent weeks.  I’ve done my best to ignore things that I don’t agree with and not engage in “debates”.  I try not to post anything that will be personally offensive to anyone.  I admit that I did laugh at and share some memes that came out about binders full of women and horses and boyonets.  There are some seriously funny people out there.  I was AMAZED at how quickly this stuff hit the internet.

  • Via Imgur, http://imgur.com/P5mk7
    and my personal favorite:
    Dirty Dancing quote used in Binders Full of Women meme after second presidential debate (via MovieHumor/http://bit.ly/Wlg8fi)
    In my opinion, these are funny.  They poke fun at the candidates and expose how insane the whole election process has become.  And honestly, if we didn’t have a filter of snarkiness to view this all though, how would we ever survive it?
    What I don’t like is when these memes become personal.  They attack people for their beliefs and make assumptions about people based on their party affiliation.   And, they are usually wrong.  We all have a story that shapes our world view.  I became accustomed to just ignoring this stuff.  And, then last night this started showing up on my FB feed in various forms:
    I will be voting early today — for President Obama — but it won’t be because I don’t have a job.  It’ll be because I damn near killed myself working my ass of during this election season and I’m taking a few days off to try and recover from pneumonia.  Yeah, that’s me taking it a little more personally than I should.  And, you might be sitting there wondering about that sense of humor that I was talking about earlier.  I just don’t find this funny.  I find it mean and offensive.  And not true.  And, it’s honestly the first thing that has made me spitting mad during the last several weeks.
    You vote for your guy and I’ll vote for mine.  But, for the love of the America that our Founding Fathers fought for and dreamed of, don’t be a jerk.
    *Yes, I realize that @thetimmytebow is a parody account.  If I have to explain the title, you aren’t going to get it anyway.