My watch says it’s 7:45pm, which I fully believe after a pre-dawn wake-up in California and a nonstop flight to Florida. It’s been another whirlwind of a week, but it’s all been leading up to tomorrow, when I’ll join my dear friend Jess and her family for a four-day cruise to Cozumel.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria have changed our itinerary, but they’re not stopping us from celebrating Jess’s birthday and cancer-free diagnosis. I’ve always known Jess to be strong, funny and full of perspective, but the last year has only further proven to me how remarkable she is.
I can’t put into words how grateful I am for her friendship and being able to celebrate with her this weekend. It’s sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I can’t wait share how much fun we had when I return!
In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should have…
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
Before reading this week’s challenge, I thought I’d have it in the bag. I’ve often been someone who has many friends in various groups, but just a handful of close friends I trust beyond surface stuff.
My mom was my best friend at a time when it wasn’t cool to be so pleased with your parents. I thought I’d be able to pick the laughing and crying friends out in an instant — after all, those I’m closest to are all people who keep me in stitches and don’t mind (or don’t vocalize that they mind) me crying over everything, from Publix commercials to family tragedy.
But then I read Kelly Corrigan’s take on what these friends meant to her. She details how quickly they came to her side — literally and figuratively — after she discovered a lump in her breast. As a self-proclaimed guys’ girl, she wasn’t a woman who enjoyed dainty drinks or Pilates chatter. But it was women who saved her life, both in surgery and in solace. They made every effort to help her through the darkest of days, and she now holds a special place for the girlfriends she “cultivates and collects” friendships with.
As the saying goes, art was imitating life in full force.
A dear friend called me last week to say she found lumps in her breasts. The lumps were malignant and aggressive, meaning she’d likely need a double mastectomy, plus chemo and radiation. I crumpled in my chair, unable to form coherent or comforting sentences.
Here was a young woman, who held my hand after my dad’s diagnosis — who let me sleep on her couch the night before he died — who had been through so many of life’s challenges already, and she was about to begin the toughest fight of her life.
I hate to say “life’s not fair,” because we all have our battles and it’s all relative to what we’ve experienced. But to be dealt this hand, to have this challenge ahead, is a true test to her unbreakable spirit and strength.
She’s a friend I can always count on for a laugh — she even made jokes while sharing her diagnosis, for God’s sake. And if I remember correctly, we managed to throw in some SNL references for good measure.
We cry together, too. She lost an immediate family member in a terrible accident, was by my side when my dad died, and we had tearful goodbyes when we parted ways in two major cities.
I’m so very fortunate to call her my friend, and I hope to be able to visit soon and be by her side. Until then, I hope she finds some comfort in knowing how much love and support she has, and how grateful I am to have her friendship through these difficult days.
To my friend, and to all of these friends below, I’m gobsmacked by how much strength I find in you. When I’ve faced my own toughest times, you’ve been there without question and without judgment. I hope my unconditional love for you is felt far and wide as well.
My dear friends, this week’s post is not for the faint of heart.
A friend of mine in Tampa, who battled an inoperable brain tumor for nearly two years, died Sunday. Michelle brought so much light and love and positivity to everyone she met — long before her fight and all throughout it — so it’s no wonder she took her final breath on Valentine’s Day.
I’ve struggled to put coherent sentences together to express how deeply saddened I am for her devoted husband, Ryan, and the entire Fighter community. In ~23 months, Michelle and co. raised nearly $200,000 for brain cancer research and awareness. Petite as she was, her spirit could not be contained.
We met in 2012 through a volunteer organization, High Hopes in High Heels. She was already a Board Member and quickly inspired me to join its leadership. One of my first memories with Michelle had us both snort-laughing and crying over ridiculous stories and inappropriate jokes. She then led our team to reinvent the Children Cancer Center’s Teen Prom, an event celebrating the brave adolescents battling various forms of cancer. This was years before her own diagnosis, and still, Michelle gave countless hours and effort to make the event a huge success.
Whether we were cuddling puppies at a Yappy Hour for adopted canines, toasting with rummy bears on the beach or crashing a wedding, Michelle’s presence was always warm, wacky and welcoming.
Michelle’s network of family and friends around the country have posted continuous messages of hope and positivity. If you’re able, consider donating or purchasing from the Fighter store. In any event, Michelle’s spirit will continue to live on as we aim to BElieve THEre is GOOD in the world.
Rest in peace, sweet angel.
Images courtesy of Facebook & Kaylin Amabile Photography
Well friends, I’m visiting San Fran this weekend to find an apartment! I’m excited and anxious and hope to find something in a flash. It’ll all work out in the end, I know, but here’s what I’m focused on until my flight.
- Miracle Treat Day: Grab a treat from Dairy Queen this Thursday, and they’ll donate a portion of proceeds to cancer research. Helping others has never tasted so good.
- Hornblower Cruises: My office is having its summer outing this afternoon, aboard a mega yacht for more than a thousand people. Toot toot!
- Robin Williams: His death is heartbreaking, but not unheard of. The depression he suffered only magnifies how talented a performer he truly was. Rest in peace, Robin.
- “Dude Looks Like a Lady” – Aerosmith: Tough as it is to narrow down my favorite movie of his, “Mrs. Doubtfire” will always have my heart. The soundtrack alone was just perfect.
I’m feeling much better after a week of illness and some reeeal ugly cries, you guys. It absolutely helps that my cousins are in town for the week to visit — allowing me just enough time for these faves:
- “The Fault in Our Stars”: ‘Twas was the perfect setting to see a movie by myself for the first time. This year’s best read was wonderful on-screen and I highly, highly, highly recommend it.
- HBO Go: A week bedridden was made sort-of OK with this service. 31 episodes of “Game of Thrones” later, and I was feeling almost human again!
- “Fancy” – Iggy Azalea f. Charli XCX: I can’t get enough of I-G-G-Y. One look at my Spotify, and you’ll see I’ve binge-listened approximately 500 times. The “Clueless” music video is just the gangsta cherry on top.
- “Part of Our World”: And I can’t listen to “Fancy” without thinking of this hilarious sketch from Anna Kendrick’s turn hosting SNL. She plays Ariel (“The Little Mermaid”) and teaches Ursula (Aidy Bryant) about today’s popular music.
The best part of a long weekend? Um, it’s a long weekend.
The worst part of a long weekend? It takes the rest of the week to figure out what day it actually is.
I’m 80% certain it’s Wednesday, so here you go, faithful followers:
- Treasure Island: A few days of sand and surf were more than enough to send me straight to relaxation station. You have to check out this idyllic vacation spot the next time you’re in Florida — I know I will!
- Allison’s Baptism: My niece, AKA the cutest child alive, was baptized this weekend and I’m honored to be her Godmother. Just look at that smile! She’s obviously perfect. And trouble.
- The Fault in Our Stars: This book deserves its own post, because I devoured it in less than 24 hours and felt all the feels. The movie looks interesting, too … even if I don’t like Shailene Whatsherface.
- “Not a Bad Thing” – Justin Timberlake: Well, JT does it again. I’ve learned that an earworm stuck in our heads for days is just his MO. The video is also great, because, you know, Jusssstin.
In the five months since my dad’s death, there are many things I’ve left unsaid. Many blog posts I’ve drafted, many journal entries I’ve crafted, many people I’ve shafted.
There have been countless tears without nearly as much closure as I expected.
And isn’t that so stupid? How can I expect anything?
Sure, I’ve been to more than 20 funerals for various friends & family — but nothing prepares you for the loss of an immediate family member.
I’ve gone through many stages, sometimes simultaneously. My laughter over a fond memory bubbles up anger and resentment for not flying home more often in the three months between his diagnosis and death.
The anger continued last night, when an NBC reporter questioned Olympic skier Bode Miller about his brother’s death. Overcome with emotion, Miller was unable to finish the interview.
I was reeling over the reporter’s inability to recognize she should stop asking questions and just shut the hell up. But Miller is more gracious than I, and he understood she had no idea he would break down at that moment.
Everyone deals with grief differently … that’s no surprise. What is surprising, though, is how often people make these situations about themselves.
They don’t know how to deal with the loss. They can’t handle seeing you cry. They can’t imagine what you’re going through.
What they don’t realize is that sometimes, they don’t need to do anything — just be there for you.
I’ve held my tongue and left many things unsaid in the months since my dad died.
Part of me wants to let go of my guilt that I didn’t say enough when he was alive.
Part of me wants to lash out every time someone tries to change the subject, when I really just want to cry it out for a few minutes.
Part of me wants the words to come out, free of judgment, instead of bottling them up for fear of burdening someone else.
And all of me wants him back here just for one day, just so I can say everything I didn’t.