Friday, October 10, 2008

For Colleen

I met Colleen when my now 5-year old son was a baby. We met on a web forum for those trying to get pregnant. There were quite a few of us on that forum who often found ourselves posting in the same threads, with similar ideas on politics, mothering, life. As we disovered our kinship and became friends, we chose to form our own little forum where we could connect on a day-to-day basis with each other separate from the rest of the pregnancy forum.

In this group, we have shared much. Pregnancies, births, losses, deaths of loved ones, day-to-day vents, promotions, birthdays, anniversaries, the full gamut of what you share with friends. A great many of have met in person. We have such ready contact with each other that I “talk” with them more frequently than I talk with most family members or friends. I consider each one of these women dear friends. Although I never met Colleen in person, I always had a good idea of what she must be ike in person. Her wit and spunky personality always shown through. As did her love for her husband and children and wanting to ensure they would always be taken care of.

And now, I am facing the prospect of losing Colleen. In August she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer. She had surgery, but it was found in her lymph nodes. Just last week, she learned the cancer had spread into her abdomen and beyond. The cancer is very aggressive and it pains me, more than I can bear to think about, that Colleen may not have much longer. She has a 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son.

A fundraiser is being held for her and her family on October 28th-November 4th at Tiny Lady Cooperative. There will be a wide variety of knitted goods, yarns, fibers, and other items. Your support would be very appreciated.

Please feel free to "steal" the button for your own blog.

Here is a little more description of what is prompting this event, from the Facebook group "Tiny Lady Cooperative Fundraiser":

As many of you know, our friend Colleen was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer, back in August.

You can read more about Colleen's story on her blog at

Colleen underwent surgery to remove 60% of her liver. At the same time, they removed some of Colleen's lymph nodes. Then, Colleen went on to begin regrowing her liver with optimism and grace. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, bad news. On a follow up visit, it was found that there were cancer cells in her lymph nodes. They planned to begin chemotherapy October 3rd. Before chemotherapy could begin, Colleen had a couple more visits to the hospital because of various complications. Last week, the news was more grim. A CT scan indicated that the cancer has spread throughout her body. Chemo is no longer an option she is willing to consider. Mainly because it would take away from her family too much of the time she has left. Plus, the doctors have said that there is a strong possibility that it could even accelerate her deterioration. She wants to approach the time she has left with the strength, grace and dignity that defines her personality.

It has broken all of our hearts to realize that Colleen is most likely not going to be with us much longer. She has taken a "don't ask, don't tell" approach to how long she has, so that she can enjoy everyday to it's fullest. Plus, honestly, the doctors wouldn't be able to give a good estimate for how long she has. Either way, it is not long -- it is just too aggressive of a cancer.

Colleen has touched many of our lives with her intelligence, wit, humor, generosity, talent, and amazing outlook on life. The ladies here at Tiny Lady Cooperative have had the fortune of being business partners with her, and many others have enjoyed her fibers and yarns. Friends from real life, as well as online, have rallied together to show Colleen how much we love, support and admire her.

Please join us October 28th-November 4th as we host an event to raise funds for Colleen and her family. All funds raised will be placed into a college fund for her children.

Thank you in advance for your generosity in supporting this event.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Life is Unfair

Blogging block?

It's been a little while since I've posted anything. I can't really explain why. Busy? Sure. Lack of inspiration? Sure. Some tough personal stuff? Sure.

Over the course of a month, I dealt with the death of three people I know. I wasn't incredily close to the people who died, but I was close to those most affected by their deaths. My best friend losing her father just a couple months before she was to have her first child. My secretary losing her husband (who was also a coworker of mine) after major surgery to remove a lung ravaged by cancer. All the teachers at the kids' daycare, who lost their daycare center director (who was also the partner of one of the teachers) in a mysterious drowning in a neighborhood pond.

I haven't experienced a lot of death in my life, certainly not that much death in such a short amount of time. The death of my secretary's husband hit me really hard as I had seen him a very short time before the surgery at work and he looked fine. He was a very high level manager and had recently come to talk to a bunch of us about this terrible new performance system we recently came under. He seemed fine. He seemed strong. But he was dealing with a very rare form of aggressive cancer. There was great hope that the surgery to remove his lung would let him lead a normal life. I knew the surgery was very serious, but the news of his death still hit me like a ton of bricks. At work, I broke down several times. Unfortunately, it was usually in the presence of male colleagues, most of whom were in superior positions. It wasn't all my fault. One of them had the nerve to take me aside and ask very sincerely and kindly "how are you doing?" (that's tongue in cheek, I actually hold him in higher esteem now for doing that).

I lose it very easily (I blame you, Mother!). Not a good quality when you're trying to be supportive and strong for those that are mourning the loss of their loved ones.

To sum it up...death sucks. It's unfair (please, don't bother telling me life isn't fair, I actually had someone tell me that when we were grieving for the husband of my secretary, for some crazy reason, those words of wisdom don't help). It makes me think about mortality. It reminds me that there is no guarantee that the people I love most will be around me forever. I don't like thinking about that stuff.

Additionally, at some point, on some blog, I stumbled upon the news of a beautiful little four year old boy who lost his life to brain cancer. 4 years old. My son is 4 years old. I've been drawn to the mom's writings since their son's passing. I don't know why I keep going back to see how she's doing because I lose it almost every single time. I guess in some ways I feel selfish if I don't visit, if I don't share in the remembering of his life, in the mourning of his death. And really, the heartache I feel for that family pales in comparison to what they experienced. Who am I to complain about how it brings me down when I can go home and hug my children? My mind cannot even comprehend what I would do in that mom's shoes. I cannot imagine a pain worse. I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it. It reminds me of how I reacted after 9/11, I couldn't peel my eyes off the television. I felt the duty to mourn, to "never forget."

But I don't think it's good for me to visit that site. I should turn my sympathy (or compulsion or whatever it is) into something productive. Whether it's volunteering time to do something to help little children going through something similar or spending extra minutes with my own children, I need to remove myself from things that make me think about death and concentrate on the good that is living.

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Half Report

For those concerned about the long absence since my last post before the half-marathon, I am not dead. Although, I was a little concerned that I wouldn't survive the turbulent plane ride home.

I ran the entire 13.1 miles.

We arrived in Vegas on Saturday, the day before the race. It’s strange to be in Vegas and have to use something called self discipline. We ate at a fabulous little restaurant in the Mandalay Bay, called the “Burger Bar.” A mighty fine $20+ melt-in-your-mouth gourmet kobe beef burger was had. Best burger I’ve ever had. If you haven’t had a kobe beef burger, I encourage you to try one. Heavenly. A bit of beer was had as well (I only have so much self discipline).

We turned in early, but a restless night was ahead for both of us. I didn’t really think I would be “one of those” who gets nervous before a race and can’t sleep the night before. But it hit me a bit and definitely hit my husband.

We got up at 4 am on Sunday morning. A mad dash was made for coffee at the 24 hour Starbucks downstairs (no in-room coffee maker!). It was interesting to see the contrast of those up at that hour in Vegas. Most were going to be running in the race. But others were still “out”. Some were still intoxicated. One poor girl was passed out in a wheelchair and being wheeled somewhere by a security guard.

I stepped outside to see how cold it was. Definitely cold (news report said it was 38 degrees).

We drank our coffee and ate our breakfast. After we figured out what we were going to wear and how to put our bibs and timing chip on, we went downstairs to meet a coworker of mine who would also be running. We waited for some time and she never showed, so we left to try to find a spot at the starting line. Sadly, I knew I’d probably not spot her in the crowd of 12,000 or so racing.

It’s hard to describe the energy of the crowd before we started. I think that may be one of the addictive qualities of races – the positive energy. Everyone there has a similar goal – the accomplishment of something you’ve trained hard for.

The race started at 6:07 am at the Mandalay Bay. Fireworks and Elvis Presley music carried us through our muddle to the starting line (with a crowd like that, it took a good 8 or 9 minutes to cross the starting line) and down the strip. I got a tiny bit teary from the rush of it all. Crowds cheered us on. Tribute bands played here and there. The Blue Man Group performed. Numerous runners were dressed as Elvis. Some runners adorned in veils or other wedding gear, even partook in the run through wedding ceremony.

We ran long past the strip and at some point turned around and headed back to the finish line. I felt really good for the first 8-9 miles. I mean, really good. It was sometime after the 9 mile mark that the run began to require a little more effort. It never got to the point of being uncomfortable, but at some point I did feel like the end would be a nice and really welcome thing.

My husband ran along with me the entire time. He’s a much faster runner than me, so I’m sure I slowed him down tremendously. But he tells me that he’s glad he went slower, that it did get tougher for him as well and running slow probably helped.

We finished in 2:24 (my husband would scold me if I didn’t caveat that with the fact that that includes the potty break I had to take). We shuffled through the very crowded exit area and received our medals.

My macho husband didn’t grasp the importance or necessity of the silver “blanket” they handed every finisher. While I enjoyed the benefits of something between my sweaty clothes and the cool temperatures (that was actually quite a surprise to me how beneficial those space age looking blankets are), my husband soon realized a blanket was necessary if he was going to stay outside any longer.

Coincidentally, we located my friend as she was exiting a port-a-potty! She had also finished the whole race.

We all wobbled away together, naps were had, as was a real night on the town.

It was fun. And I hope you don't mind me tooting my own horn, but I blew the lid off my New Year's resolutions last year.

Now my husband wants to do a marathon. And he doesn't want to wait until October for the Portland one. He wants to do the Eugene marathon in May. And then the Portland one in October. Oh boy. What have I created?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Half is Near

It's coming. The race. 13.1 miles. In Vegas. 7 days from now.

My husband and a co-worker/friend will be doing it with me. We've all been training. Sometimes together, often separate. My longest run was last weekend. 10 miles. On the treadmill (it was cold out!). Long runs on the treadmill aren't actually all that bad. Especially if you're slow like me. I watched an entire movie and part of Grey's Anatomy.

I'm excited. I'm a little bit scared. I'm nervous. I'm hopeful.

P.S. Oh, and operation lung cleansing? Nearly 3 months. Easiest quit I've ever done.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One Day

Like any other weekday morning, this morning I entered my son's bedroom with the plan to wake him up and get him ready for preschool.

(Why is that he is the most sound asleep when I need him to wake him up? When it’s 5 am and I’m trying to go for a run, I carefully tiptoe around the house and try to be as quiet as possible so that I do not wake him up. I sometimes hear him thrashing around in his room, kicking the wall in his sleep, and I tense up, afraid he is going to wake up and interfere with my ability to get my run in. But sure enough, when 7:15 rolls around, he is nearly impossible to wake up.)

As I sat there, and then laid there, trying to wake him up, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that one day he will…be a man. I cuddled up next to him, took a whiff of his sweet innocent neck and thought about the fact that one day he will…smell like a man. I stroked his little arms and thought about the fact that one day he will…be hairy and tall and big. As I looked at his sleeping face, still very much a baby face, I thought about the fact that one day when I catch a glimpse of him sleeping, I won’t think “oh, look how he sweet he looks.” One day, I won’t be able to pick him up out of bed and carry him out into the living room. One day he won’t ask me if he can lay on me “like a pillow” as he tries to wake up in the morning. One day I won’t want to nibble on his cheeks or nose or ears. One day he’s going to pronounce his “Ls” correctly and no longer say “wook, mommy, it’s a train!”

I don’t want him to grow up.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Friend Could Use Your Kind Words

I appreciate your visit to my poorly neglected blog.

My friend, Jenn, the talented writer at Serving the Queens lost her nephew, Sgt. First Class Matthew Blaskowski. She is creating a card for his parents from comments posted here, If you would like to offer your condolences, I encourage you to post there.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One More Reason Nylons are Evil

I carry a backpack to work. Perhaps not the vision you have of a lawyer going to the office, but it’s really not out of place here. It may be the Pacific Northwest’s version of a briefcase. Or maybe it’s the fact I work for a government agency and things are tad bit more casual than if I worked in private practice. Or maybe it’s the fact that I work mostly with biologists and engineers and I fit in better when I accessorize my suit with a backpack.

The backpack certainly has utility. I need as many hands free as I can get when trying to wrangle two children into daycare, carry a purse, a lunch bag, and a cup of coffee, not to mention on Mondays, I’m also carrying the kids’ blankets and jackets. I have a couple of briefcases and they aren’t deep enough to hold much of anything – it’s so much easier to throw everything in a backpack.

Yesterday was only Tuesday so my hands were not quite as full as Mondays. Not to mention, I wasn’t coordinated enough to get my cup of coffee to go in the morning, so I had one less item to carry. After pulling into the parking garage under my building at work, I gathered the kids and my belongings. I muttered to myself at my forgetfulness to bring sunscreen for the kids (daycare asks that we apply it before they arrive, so I usually keep it in the van and apply it before we go in). We took the elevator up to the lobby saying hello to the security guards and smiling at the people walking through the lobby. I’m sure I even apologized to someone because G ran too quickly through the lobby to the entrance to his daycare.

As I dropped the kids off at daycare, I said my greetings to the teachers and parents we passed in the hall. When I got in the elevator only one other person, a co-worker/high level manager, was inside. We made some small talk on the way to our floor. As we got off, I know I said hello or good morning to at least one other person. I walked into the office, said hello to the secretary and then entered my own office. I slipped the backpack off my back on to the floor. To my utter amazement, I saw that the front pocket of my backpack was completely unzipped, with a flap hanging over revealing (among other things I’m sure) crumpled papers, E’s head band, and one stray nude thigh high nylon (you need a spare!). I gasped and laughed and I’m sure I turned beet red.

No one said anything to me?!?!?!