I have spent a lot of time over the last week and a half thinking about this post. Should it be about Thanksgiving? Gratitude? Community? It’s about all of those things and also includes love and one important lesson learned from having cancer.
Until I had cancer, I was always in control of everything in my life. Maybe not the healthiest way to live. Not needing anything from anyone…ever. Even after I had a c-section I told people we were fine. I was up cooking and cleaning two days after I was released from the hospital. We had a two and a half year old, and a new born, but I refused any dinners or help. I didn’t want anyone to have to go out of their way for me.
Five and a half years went by. Mac was about to start kindergarten, Quinn was eight and we had just moved in with Adrienne and Stella. Then on a June morning, all of our lives were changed forever. The summer of 2010 is blurry. I went to chemo every Monday. I wore a bag of chemo twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. I went to radiation Monday-Friday for five weeks. By the end of it, I was taking Vicodin and Morphine and the pain still had me napping like a newborn. I couldn’t stomach anything that wasn’t white and bland. But you know what? My family still needed to eat.
Mac had just finished our families sixth year at the El Cerrito Preschool Co-op. I worked in the office. Over the years it became our community. And there was no saying “no thank you” to help.
Food arrived often. The kids called it “The cancer train.” They loved it because it was real, warm food and more often than not, included dessert.
It was through that time that I began to realize that accepting help is good for us, but also good for those doing the helping. People want to do something. And by saying no, I’m not giving them the chance. I like to help people, and so do lots of other people. And it’s good for our kids to see us helping out friends and even strangers. It helps them learn what community is.
Now that I am coming to the end of my life, that education is really important for my children. When I am gone, they will know how many people care about them. And that community will continue on for them. Wow, writing that made me tear up.
A few weeks ago, two very close friends asked us what we really wanted. Was there somewhere we really wanted to go but couldn’t afford to? Something that needed to be done around the house?
Adrienne and I talked about it. She has never been to Hawaii and I really wanted to take her there. But we were also practical. The stairs leading to the back yard were in serious need of being replaced. A few years ago I had replaced the three bottom stairs, but the whole structure was unsafe. We decided that would be our first priority and Hawaii would come second. Our friends sent out this letter:
The time has arrived for us to come to you with an ask on behalf of Jay and Adrienne – an ask for your financial support for their family’s needs and wants.
First, they have an opportunity to have their dilapidated back stairs rebuilt. A friend, David Granger- who owns Apex Construction, will donate most of the materials but will need to pay his crew to do the work. We’ve already received an anonymous donation of $200, so the family now NEEDS $500 to complete this long overdue project and put their minds at ease.
Second, while Jay is still feeling well enough, he would love to see Kauai and would love to share this with Adrienne. This is a wish – not the spectacular San Francisco turned into Gotham City for a recovering little boy wish- but a wish of a dying man to experience and share the beauty and wonder of a magical place with the woman he loves. They’d love to visit Poipu and have found a place called Whaler’s Cove where they fantasize about staying.
As Adrienne has already shared in her most recent Muddy Feet Memoir post – http://muddyfeetmemoirs.wordpress.com/ they don’t need a bucket list for the life they already treasure together. This is evident, but they do have these two things they need and want would accept your help at this time.
If you are so inclined and able, Jay and Adrienne would humbly and gratefully accept whatever you are able to donate. Any money received will go first to rebuilding their stairs. If any money is collected beyond $500, ideally it will be used toward a trip to Kauai. In the event a Kauai trip isn’t possible, please trust that any donations will be used wisely and lovingly.