Monday, August 23, 2010
We talk. We talk about plans. We come up with party ideas. We talk about his friends and his school plans. We talk about girls he likes. We talk about girls he should like. We talk about his writing; he is an excellent writer. We talk about current events and films we've seen.
We talk about Sherri. We work through it, ever slowly. This is something that we both realize needs good third-party advice; and he will get that.
I want to round the mark. In a sailboat race they travel to a predetermined waypoint that designates the farthest part of the course. They then round the mark and head to the finish. It's time for us to start the downhill run. When you see him or talk to him, let him know that you care.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
I literally cried every day for 6 weeks after Sherri passed away. Now I cry randomly. They say crying is good for the spirit because it helps you release the emotions They say you feel better. I'm not so sure. I do know that it's not every day, so I guess that's a sign that things are trending in the right direction.
I'm in Stockholm. That's Stockholm, as in capital of Sweden, not Stockton, as in the arm pit of California. Minor apologies to anyone from Stockton. It was sunny today, which is totally appropriate for a Sunday, and every Stockholmeo was outside taking in the sunshine like worms coming out after the rain. I had flown in this morning and after I checked into the hotel, I decided to take a walk around the center of the city. I walked for quite a while and I noticed that the overwhelming majority of groups of people were couples or couples with kids. At times I felt like the only person in Stockholm out by himself. I'd take consolation when I saw the occasional jogger and observe that they're by themselves so I'm not the only one. I walked out to an island, Grundevaldgarten or something like that; there was a bridge; that made it much easier to walk to it. I sat on a bench looking back at the center of the city and I took this picture.
I re-realized something at that moment. For me, and I'm sure for many of you, it really is about other people. I mean the joy in life comes from the relationships. The more intimate those relationships become the more intense the joy becomes. Of course, there's risk with that. The loss of an intense relationship is much more painful. Some people will not engage in an intense relationship for fear of pain, fear of loss. Some people will withhold themselves out of self-protection. Not me. When that time comes again, when I'm ready to have that intense relationship, I'll throw myself once again into the breach. The joy will always far outweigh the pain.
Thanks for reading,
Monday, May 17, 2010
In my last update, I wrote about Bob and the letter his wife Leah had written. At the time it broke my heart to read her words about Bob's terminal cancer. I couldn't imagine the pain she was enduring. I still can't imagine her pain but on April 6th I got my own dose of life's fateful twists. I apologize to those of you who are learning about this just now. On April 6th my wife Sherri passed away from a unpredicted brain aneurysm. And just like that, a beautiful life has left us and the world changed. The memorial service was beautiful as it was traumatic. Our children, Emily and Rob, delivered incredibly heartfelt eulogies for their mother and I couldn't be prouder of them. We each wrote letters to Sherri and included them in the service program. Mine is posted on my blog. Every day since has been a fog of tears, confusion, anxiety, lack of concentration, sleepless nights, compassionate friendships, lost friendships, loneliness and hope.
As I made the unavoidable return to the work world, I learned on April 18th, Bob Norling passed away from the damned non-Hodgkins Lymphoma he'd been battling. Far too soon after Sherri passed away I was sitting in church listening to Bob's wife and his friend deliver heartfelt eulogies. The fog in my head was still pretty thick and I sat through the service like I was watching a film with the audio out of sync with the film. Despite my disoriented state of mind, their words tapped the well of tears that had been unsealed only three weeks earlier. Once again I can't convey the emotions as well as Bob's wife, Leah.
Bob as you recall is the reason I got re-engaged in Team in Training and pledged to help raise money to fight cancer. People were so touched by Bob's story that they donated $4000 so far to help fight blood cancers. Don't stop now; please go to my fundraising page and donate if you can. Thank you to the many people that have supported my fundraising. I can't thank you enough.
When I started writing my updates this season, I fully intended to finish my story about my trip across France., I had a particularly life-changing tale about my climb up the Tourmalet but now it all seems so long ago in a life from a sweet shattered dream. That story will have to wait for another time and frankly, a whole lot of healing. As I muddle through the emotional shards of my new life, I'm learning to look at it from a entirely new perspective. I've decided to start writing again. I feel that it will help me clear my thoughts and return me to a new normal. I have one request from those that have been following my adventures and updates. I realize that the only thing that really helps to get through these times is to talk to people. I would love to hear from you. Drop me a message or give me a call. I'm still the same guy; my life is just a lot less ordinary.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned as the pieces come together.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
"Well done, good and faithful servant"
That's what the card said on the flowers that arrived for you. As soon as I read it, I was overwhelmed by a deluge of tears and sobs. As soon as I read it, I knew it fit you perfectly. Of course you would have recognized immediately where the verse originated; I had to look it up.
Sherri, you are a woman of uncommon generosity, boundless love and unwavering faith. The stories people recounted over the past few days confirm that statement. People that know you are amazed at your kindness and all of them miss you dearly.
We met under the most awkward of circumstances on Halloween night 31 years ago; I thoroughly embarrassed myself at Ken and Liz's Halloween party by hovering over you and trying to get you to remove that full length green sweater to reveal the risque "I Dream of Genie" costume underneath. You would not relent even though I tried every trick in the book to get you to take it off. After the party, I thought of you and assumed I would never hear from you again after my performance. Little did I know that, as you told your friend Peggy, I had caught your eye and you were smitten. If Peggy hadn't corroborated it, I wouldn't believe it, but you said you told her on the way home from the party, "I'm going to marry that guy." Little did you know, you had caught my eye too. I thought you were the most beautiful girl I laid eyes on. You were shy but you seemed quite kind. Your amazing smile and laughing eyes captivated me. You were the sweetest person I'd ever met; 31 years later, it's still true.
You loved me. You loved Emily and Rob. I remember all the Christmases, birthdays, Easters, and random events when you would take extra care to make our favorite desserts, give us a thoughtful gift, or surprise with something you found at the store - on sale, of course. Every time I went on a business trip, you'd sneak a note into my luggage, just to let me know you were thinking of me. All you wanted in return was to be held, to be kissed, to be appreciated and listened to, and to be loved. When I left the house to go to work and you were still asleep, I would kiss you gently on the head being careful not to wake you and I'd whisper "I love you", you always smiled and let out a little sigh. Just this last Easter, I remember sitting next to you on the couch and just reaching out to hold your hand. As we held hands, in just that simple gesture, you were happy. We were in love.
You loved kids. Obviously, you loved our kids the most. Even now, though they're 26 and 22 years old, you still tell them - "You're my babies; you'll always be my babies." You held Emily through the night as she endured a countless string of ear infections. You stayed awake by Rob's crib all night after his surgery when he was a baby, praying and caring for him. I remember how proud you were at all of Emily's recitals, the school plays, or just watching Rob work the video and sound for the church. When Rob and Emily both performed on saxophone and piano in front of the church in Oakland, you couldn't have been prouder.
Sherri, you taught me the definition of unconditional love. I had heard about it, but I only associated it to mothers and children. You demonstrated it constantly with me. From the day you knew you loved me, you were one hundred percent committed to loving me. Even though we hit many potholes in the road of marriage, you continued to love me through it all. I learned from you that unconditional love means just giving yourself over to the one you love. You made yourself a gift to me, and like a gift, it was given freely. You essentially said, "I am yours, cherish me."
Over the years, you amazed me with your incredible generosity. You were always involved with the church. At first you taught Sunday school at Concord, at Walnut Creek you handled the worked in the tech booth recording the services for the radio listeners, in Danville you worked running the PowerPoint presentations. You just couldn't say no. As the kids and I were trying to decide which charity you would like to supported in lieu of flowers, we realized you supported all of them. You gave to religious organizations, cancer research, the heart association, SPCA, wildlife funds, Girl Scouts, the national parks, missions, the Heifer Project, and many more.
Your support for Team in Training goes beyond admirable to legendary. To this day, participants and coaches talk about the amazing food preparation and support you provided to the riders that were raising money to fight leukemia. You set the bar so high, that people still talk about the nice surprises you made in order to make the riders more comfortable. They didn't see the long hours you put in making nutritious goodies for the team. I knew that you had been up until three or four in the morning preparing for the day's ride. And every time I met you at a rest stop, I'd ask you how you were holding up. You were exhausted but you would always be cheerful and supportive to every rider that came by. Everyone was appreciative, but they didn't grasp just how amazing you were.
You loved nature and always commented on the beauty of God's design. Every time we traveled you made it a point to see a marvelous site. Even though I wanted to relax by the pool with a beverage, you would want to see the local sites. Of course, we always ended up seeing the local sites. Whether it was driving all over Barbados, the Big Island, or the many national parks, we always saw the obscure little venues that only locals knew about. You loved when we went exploring and hiking down a less traveled trail. On Palm Sunday we went hiking in Castle Rock Park to see the wildflowers you love so well. When we hiked up the ravine trail to Shell Ridge, you were so ecstatic to see the delicate flowers amidst the emerald green trees and grasses that you said it was truly a gift from God. You saw beauty everywhere and in everything. I remember sitting with you for hours watching brown pelicans along Moonstone Beach diving into the waves. And while I enjoyed the beauty of the moment, it filled you with awe and you experienced it much more spiritually than I could grasp.
You love God. You truly modeled yourself after the Bible and Jesus. Your faith is unparalleled. Most people would lie in bed and read a book before going to sleep. You would too, but it was either the Bible or a book based on the teachings from the Bible. That was your foundation. I'd come to bed and say "Good book?" You'd laugh at the same old joke because you knew of course it was The Good Book. You would wake every morning, read from the Bible and you would pray. You always told me that you prayed for me and the kids. Many times you would tell me about a new discovery you made in a recent passage. I would tease you about Catholic dogma and that the Protestants got it wrong. I loved our little debates because I would pit my Catholic upbringing against your Protestant beliefs. Even though you would act shocked at my biblical backwardness, you loved our little debates because you knew you were right, you always had me outgunned and you knew I was doing it to "be a monster".
You based everything you did around your passionate belief in the Bible and Jesus. Honestly, I always admired how fervent your faith was. It was your faith that colored everything you did and every way you acted. You truly practiced what you preached in your devotion and in your love for everyone. This last Easter, when we were at breakfast, you said that Easter was your favorite holiday. You said "It is the highlight of the Christian calendar. Easter is more important than Christmas." You were incredibly happy and you thoroughly enjoyed the day that we had together with my family. We even talked about how great the weekend was as we drove home that evening. You felt loved by family and God.
You loved to be touched. You loved to be kissed. I would wrap my arms around your waist and hold you close. You always said you loved my shoulders and the feeling of being held. When we were looking at pictures for your memorials, I particularly loved the ones where me or the kids had you in our arms, those were the ones in which you looked happiest. I loved holding you. I loved the feeling of your skin against my hands. You made me feel like your protector, your sweetheart, your husband. As you lay in the hospital bed, I kissed your forehead, hoping to see the smile you always gave. When you didn't smile, my heart sunk at the pain of knowing you had gone. I touched your hands, hoping for the familiar squeeze. I just held onto your hand, crying, wishing it was all a nightmare, hoping to wake up. I will never forget your touch, ever.
Sherri, you taught me so much. I've only scratched the surface in this short letter. I want you to know that I love you, I've always loved you and I always will. I am grateful that I got a chance to say I love you on Sunday. I am grateful that we had such a peaceful and perfect day and that I knew you loved me and you knew I loved you. I know you are in a far better place. The only consolation that I have in this whole dismal business is I know you are at peace.
I love you sweetheart
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Not the typical opening for my blog updates but I thought it was so poignant, I had to use it. My friend Kaval wrote that to me after I sent my last update about Bob's fight against non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It couldn't be more true.
I was talking with my friend Sven about life, the universe and relationships. Sven was talking about how the movie Up in the Air really hit the nail on the head with its theme that life is richer with friendships. It may seem obvious, but all of us get caught up in the chaos of everyday life and we may lose sight of the temporal nature of friendships. What Sven and Kaval so simply illustrated is that you have to treat friendships like treasures and part of that obligation is, as Kaval put it, "you have to stand up for each other."
Which leads me to fighting cancer. We all know someone that has fought cancer. Not necessarily a blood cancer, but we have friends and loved ones that have fought and sometimes, succumbed, to these diseases. The thing about it is, it won't just go away. It takes research. Research takes funding. Research funding comes from people that care, people that have the means to help, and people that are willing to stand up for another.
I choose to raise money to fight cancer because it's my way of standing up for my friends, loved ones, and for people whom I haven't ever met. If you see someone harming your friends or family, you will step in to stop it; fighting cancer is like stepping forward to stop the mugger from harming your friends. So, please join me and stand up and fight against blood cancers by visiting my donation page at http://pages.
Last time I wrote about Bob and his impending stem cell transplant. I realize I can not even come close to communicating the ordeal as his wife Leah does. I've never met her, but my heart goes out to her. Here is her latest update on her blog http://www.califmom.com/califmom/2010/03/twenty-one-years-coming-to-an-end.html Go there. Read it.
Twenty-One Years Coming To An End
April 8, 1989. I had just returned to campus in Chico from spring break in Ensenada, Mexico.
Tan, rested, ready to party, my roommate and I headed out for a night on the town.
Bob and I met that night. Fell in love that night. Haven't been apart since that night.
After college, we got married. We had two beautiful children. We bought a house. We took vacations.
And now, I have to figure out how to do this without him --without the other part of me.
Without my We.
As I lie on this godforsaken chofa bed in a hospital room Bob won't get to leave, I can imagine millions of scenarios, but none of them are my life without my husband. None are my children without their father.
And this precarious position between keeping him comfortable and having him coherent is a level of hell Dante neglected to mention.
I used to worry about children not coming with instruction manuals. Now, I wish there was one for life and death.
What am I doing?
I forgot to mention in my first post that I was doing the Death Ride this year...again. The Death Ride, for those of you new to this blog, is a one-day, 129 mile, bicycle ride over 5 mountain passes in the Sierra Nevadas south of Lake Tahoe. The Death Ride is an 11,000 calorie burning epic ride that takes every ounce of energy to complete. Cyclists do this ride because they're really fit or they don't know any better - I fall into the latter category. As if it it weren't hard enough, I started a new job in mid-February and I have the additional challenge of sacrificing training time for commuting and new-job-get-up-to-speed time. Unwisely, my only real training is on the weekends and I am getting further behind as it gets increasingly difficult. But you know, I just have to do it. It's nothing compared to what the victims of blood borne cancers are enduring.
We have to stand up for each other
visit my fundraising site at: http://pages.
visit my blog at: http://notabouttheback.blogspot.com/