Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's a Process

I've got a lot on my mind. So much, in fact, that I haven't known where to begin - in writing or even with friends. It has certainly been a "season" for me.  Less than  3 months ago, we lost our friend Steve, randomly and suddenly. In early May, my friend Trycia lost her 6 year battle with cancer. Then, less than 2 weeks ago, a young boy- only 12 years old- who I looked up to as an ambassador with Down syndrome, died in his sleep. Wedged between his two loving parents. Not even 24 hours after a seemingly clean bill of health from his cardiologist. This boy was so smart, so full of life, so much of what every parent hopes for in having a child. Yes- he had that pesky extra chromosome, which does in many cases, carry with it extra risk factors. For Timmy, the extra risk factors came with some heart problems.  I cried so hard upon hearing the news. I cried and then called Sarah, who has become a close friend- originally we met because our youngest sons both have Down syndrome- but we bonded more over a wide variety of common interests. Sarah hadn't heard the news yet, and so we cried together. It has been a season.  What came to me recently though, is just how blessed I was to know these people. Two were friends, one was a shining example of how much "life" my youngest son still has to live. My heart has been heavy and yet, daily, I am struck by this overwhelming sense that everything will be alright.

This weekend, I had to travel to Las Vegas- for work and for pleasure, as I was hired to coordinate a friend's wedding.  The "work" part had it's challenges, but the pleasure part was oh so sweet, as I brought my little family with me. It was such a pleasure to see a close friend get married and have this beautiful, supportive energy of love surrounding her and her new husband. We drove to Vegas, accompanied by the shouts of "Road Trip, Baby!!" from Christian, who has no idea that those words may be a sentence he shouts for years, and years to come. It was part work, part relaxation and part renewal.  Now is the time for me to embrace the next season and I'm ....trying. The next season is summer, and I can't imagine anything more healing than days of sunshine, watermelon, playing with the boys in the water, lots of yoga (thanks to a slightly reduced work schedule) and many memories in the making.

I still have no idea where Christian will go to Kindergarten next school year (although, I went ahead and bought all of the appropriate 'dress code' clothes for my favorite school for Christian...you know: "Just in case".) These days, the season needs to be of my choosing: I choose each day to remain positive about the school situation. I choose to look forward to the next season of summer instead of remaining too long in  the sadness of a season where I lost people I love and look up to.  I choose a new day..each day. And sometimes I fail. I've learned that "failing" is sometimes okay. Failing is sometimes even necessary. The important thing is getting back up and choosing something positive again the next day. It's a process.


For now, that's all I've got.  It's a process. And that is. okay.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Love Big, Risk Much

While driving home from running a few errands this morning, I had a sense of "Everything is going to be okay" wash over me. I immediately burst into tears. I don't know everything is going to be okay, just like I don't know that everything is not going to be okay.  We know nothing. Not from one minute to the next.  This can be an exhilarating thought or an overwhelming one.  Right now, it's overwhelming to me. I've lost two friends in the last 2 months- one very suddenly and one whom I should have known would leave us early.  On Sunday, I spent the day with my friend Trycia's family and friends at her parents house, celebrating her life and all that she meant to us.  There were some tears, but mostly there was laughter. SO much laughter. It was amazing, and when I thanked her Mom for having us, she said, "Oh absolutely! Trycia ordered this." She's right- Trycia would have loved this. In some small way, we all felt that Trycia was right there with us, laughing along and enjoying so many of the people that she loves.  I took a few photos to remember the day, and when I got home I uploaded them and began looking through.  Something weird happened: As I began to look at the two group shots we took together, I noticed a "blur" of light along the right side of the photo.  At first, I thought it might have been a smudge on my lens, but as I clicked to the next picture...no blur. Then 6 photos later, in a picture of me and my friend Jen, there it was again. Two pictures in a row, shot at different distances. I got goosebumps. I want you to look at these photos...what are your thoughts? It might very well be that I am just trying to make sense of my friend being gone...my wanting to feel that she is still "here" in some way...
And yet, it's kind of unexplainable...It's kind of hard to deny that she was really there.


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Before I left yesterday, I gave a card to Trycia's Mom that contained a brief note and the $650 (!!!) we raised as a small cushion to help Trycia's family with whatever financial burdens they may be dealing with now. It isn't an amount of money that changes the world, but it was heartwarming to see people- strangers, acquaintances and close friends alike, give a little to a family who has lost a lot. Thank you. Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all who donated:
Deena
Carrie
Hailey
Laura
Lisa
Heather
Jennifer
Brigid
Sarah
Erin
Shoshana
Linda
Keith
Angela
Karen
Jocelyn
Bev
Kristi
Kathy
Jaimee

Thank you.

I spoke to Trycia's Dad before I left. He told me: "Hug your boys tight. Trycia was always a joy to me. I couldn't take my eyes off of her when she danced." I know what he means. I have hugged my boys just a little tighter lately, and although I have been preoccupied with the loss of my friend, I think now is the time for me to share a taste of the happiness that was my boys' Birthday Party. They turned 2 and 5, and I created a fun "Under The Sea" party to help ring in a new year for each of them...

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It was genuinely such a wonderful day and wonderful party.  To see my boys' faces light up over every detail- the cake, the favors, the slip n' slide...Christian actually said to me the day before his party, "I really love you, Mom.  Thank you for doing all of this." My heart melted.

In the process of trying to deal with the loss of my friend, another friend of ours expressed fear over getting married or having kids...because things like what happened to Trycia, happen to people all of the time.  She's right: Choosing to love big, means risking much. But when I think about all I would have missed out on if I would have played it safe, I would have missed TOO much. I would have missed all of the years of laughter, love and respect for and from my friend Trycia. I would have missed the miraculous experience that is that of getting married...and then later getting pregnant, giving birth and being brought to my knees over the vulnerability you experience as a new Mother. I would have missed the most joyous and elated smile I have ever seen on my son Christian's face when his friends and family sang happy birthday to him at his party a few weeks ago. The amazing, good memories far, FAR outweigh the challenges.   It's harder to trust and remember that life will never give us answers, we'll never know what's around the corner, but in loving big the rewards are plentiful and sweet.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Trycia

I wanted to write a post about the beautiful birthday celebrations that we recently had for my boys, but unfortunately I need to purge first.  My heart is heavy today with the news of a good friend's passing. My sweet friend, Trycia Carlberg, lost her battle with cancer yesterday after a 6 year battle that started as Stage II Breast Cancer that later spread to her bones, becoming Stage IV. Words are so inadequate in trying to describe Trycia's effervescent personality, her contagious smile, her caring heart, her bounty of talent and maybe most importantly, her strength of spirit.  I met Trycia in March of 2000, working on a kids' stage show for Universal Studios, called "The Rugrats Magic Adventure".  We were dancers in the show, playing the part of the main character's (Angelica) favorite doll: a messed up "Barbie", if you will.  There were three of us, playing the identical role, as in the magic show, Angelica made 3 of us appear to help her perform her magic tricks. This show, and meeting the people I worked with was a major turning point in my life.

The year I met Trycia, was probably one of the hardest that I've been through as I was dealing with a failing marriage, that soon after ended in divorce. Trycia was one of the friends that was there for me through all of that. We spent our time as friends cutting to the chase and pondering the "deep stuff". Our combinations of personalities always had us diving into the deeper meanings of life- we just weren't there for small talk. Not only did Trycia and I love our in-depth conversations, but she was quick to laugh and it was infectious. The years that I spent working nearly daily with Trycia, turned out to be some of the happiest of my life. Despite the difficult relationship I was leaving behind, I ended up meeting and falling in love with Charles, who I married 4 years later. Trycia was there for that too. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, I was devastated that something so awful could happen to someone so good, so healthy and so young.

When I think about my life and the course it has taken over the last six years, it really puts into perspective how long Trycia fought cancer.  In that time span, I started a new business, lived abroad, had 2 children and absorbed the news that my youngest has Down syndrome- which because of the life altering effect it had on me, makes the last 2+ years seem even longer. Trycia also experienced a lot in that time: marriage, which unfortunately later dissolved, a trip to Korea for some cutting edge treatments, surgeries, chemo treatments, reconstructive surgery...really more than a person should have to handle.  And yet, she handled it with quiet strength and grace.  I know that she learned a lot about herself and what is truly important in life. Not too long ago, we talked at length about life's unexpected lessons- that despite seemingly challenging and horrible news, there are always silver linings.  This is why Trycia was inspirational.  She made a profound impact on most who knew her.  She made a profound impact on me. Just knowing that her smile is no longer gracing this earth, makes me burst into tears.

Next week, I will join Trycia's family and friends in celebrating and remembering her life. I know that her family has financial burdens as a result of her lengthy battle against cancer, as well as the many expenses that crop up in saying a proper goodbye to someone you love. Outside of the Buddy Walk, which benefits people living with Down syndrome, I don't often do this. I am asking for your love and support, and hopefully a small financial contribution that I can bring with me to Trycia's family next week.  I set a high goal, even though I know that her family would be appreciative of any small amount.  However, I think it's the least we can do.  My little blog still seems to see a little more than  a hundred readers a week.  If we each gave just $5, that would get us halfway to my goal. I hope you'll join me. I've create a Chip In widget. If you click on it, you should be able to donate any amount and do a small blessing for Trycia's family.

I will miss my friend.  I am so grateful for the last conversation I had with her. Trycia was a performer- a singer and a dancer and she loved being that.  I know that cancer tried to steal that from her and that it was painful and difficult for her to dance in the end.  My greatest comfort is in knowing that she is dancing free of pain and entertaining the angels in Heaven now.  Goodbye for now, sweet Trycia.  You were taken from us far too young, but your spirit lives on in so many of us.  Dance, sweet friend. Dance.  One day, I will join you on the stage again. I love you.


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