When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

~ Kahlil Gibran, from"The Prophet"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Quote of the Week

The world is made
for people who aren't cursed with self awareness.

Annie Savoy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

in celebration of the day of her birth

Words can't adequately describe the emotion-filled mission of celebrating the birthday of a child who has died. Simply stated ~ it's very complex, parts of it hurt like hell and it's not for the faint of heart. I work hard to stay with the memories of happiness the day of Erin's birth brings; every thrilling detail of my fourth child's entrance into this world, her indelible footprint marking my life forever. I call up the images of the yearly celebrations with family and friends that have occurred over the eighteen years she was with us, wonderful times, with gratitude for each and every one of them.  But...

On Saturday, as I'd stared down at the cake
I had just placed in the shopping cart,
the eruption of tears came.
I can't take this cake home to her.
The protective layer of numbness peels away at times like this.
How did this happen?

At 6:30 on Sunday morning, as we began to prepare for the day before us,
I lit this candle that we often have burning in our home.

In spite of the dark, chilly, rainy weather outside
I began to feel a warmth, an energy, enter The Barn.
Erin sure spent enough happy hours in that room,
a true home away from home for so many years,
and maybe that flood of memories were, in part, responsible for what I felt.

I cut that pretty birthday cake and began to put slices of it on plates
because, by God, we were hosting a birthday party,
and we were expecting over 150 guests!

One of the first donors to arrive wore this shirt,
it's message kicking my competitive resolve into gear.

Damn right I am Rebecca!
She brought a few family members with her, and the party began.

The hallway and gym began to fill with more and more generous folks
who'd made the choice to carve a moment out of busy weekend activities
to support our cause to light the paths for those struggling with darknesses.
The familiar faces streamed in alongside people I'd never before laid eyes on,
and the smiling faces, kinds words and willingness of all who entered
made me thankful for this "village" that had,
again, faithfully risen to the occasion.
Individuals from so many areas of our lives graced us with their presence.

A cousin and perhaps a future donor!

A teammate from Lyons - great T-shirt Jill!

One of several St Cletus teachers who came throughout the day.

A teacher from LT.

A birthday buddy with whom Erin played an occasional one-on-one b-ball game.
Hmmm, which one dominated back in the day?

Speaking of basketball, an 8th grade coach & recent Kwak award winner - YEAH!
who donates in Westmont every eight weeks in Erin's memory.
They broke the mold when they made Bill.

A Cletus and LT classmate, faithfully back this year to donate
with both of her parents. 

Another Cletus grad who I'm told bravely got "stuck" several times.
You rock Kelli!

Another tough soul who apparently was willing to get stuck more than once.
So sorry, I didn't know, and thank you!

Thank goodness you got to squeeze the pig, Shirley.

Katie got the pig too.
LOVE the pig!

Thanks to several parents of young children at St Cletus who never met Erin,
who barely know me
who came... who encouraged others to come too.

Two of Sarah's friends drove in from Wisconsin to join us.
ahem - I'm still waiting for my Pepsi, Carly

Budding young author, Stacy (Carly is holding her book above)
is a regular donor in Wisconsin with Sarah.

Glad you girls both came since
Sarah couldn't donate because her hemoglobin was too high! really?!

Matty was a bit more awake this year.
Flush out that red bull!

Chris calmed himself this time by entering a trance-like state
while reciting the state capitals in alphabetical order, backwards.
Am I kidding Sarah?  Carly?

Dave did his first "double red" donation -
a process through which two units of red cells are collected,

while plasma and platelets are returned to the donor.
Dave and Michael were two of eleven who elected to do this process.

Like Brian here, some donors make the whole thing look so easy!
As relaxing as reading the Sunday paper in the easy-chair at home.
Bacon and eggs anyone?

Others who were first-timers braved the experience
in spite of knocking knees and chattering teeth.

Lindsay did it too!
And I must take a moment to put this young lady in the spotlight -
this sweet girl gave her father a kidney several years ago.

Just look at that smile on the face of the phlebotomist!
The LifeSource staff was fabulous.
How can you not smile back at that?
Gosh, we had such a good time.

Geena made weight this year!
so good to see your mom and Sammi too

Margaret made weight too!
Thank goodness they didn't check the driver's license.

Of course, Erin's friend Kristin was there
and she had to put up with some not-so-gentle pokes either :(

Unfortunately, Ali wasn't back from school in time.
Not to worry!
Since she couldn't get to the blood drive, she simply hosted her own
at a local American Red Cross in North Carolina.
Several Elon teammates joined her to donate.

I need to share some amazing news about Ali
that you can read more about HERE and HERE.
She is one of 15 students, and the first Elon athlete, to be awarded
the university's Lumen Prize - a $15,000 academic scholarship that will
afford the opportunity to pursue her research project ~
Optimizing Heating Efficiency of Magnetic Microspheres
for Magnetic Hyperthermia Treatment of Malignant Tumors
yeah - wow, right?
(targeting treatment toward cancer cells without damaging healthy cells)
Lumen comes from Elon’s historic motto, “Numen Lumen”
which, in Latin, means “spiritual light” and “intellectual light”.
How appropriate, considering the theme of this year's blood drive.

Naturally her parents were with us, and her mom and I shared a few words.
OK, maybe a couple of tears too...

I was unable to give blood due to my other donation in April, but I'll be back on track in another couple of months. Instead, I bounced about the room throughout the course of the day, trying so hard to make sure I said a word of thanks to everyone who came. I know I wasn't able to speak with each person, but hopefully at least one member of our family found you and expressed our gratitude for your generosity. If we missed you, please know we are so thankful for the gift of your presence. There are additional photos in the sidebar, and I know we didn't get pictures of everyone. There were SO many of you there!

165 units were collected on Sunday.
5 more in North Carolina - of course those count!
11 more willing folks were deferred for various reasons - low/high hemoglobin, recent travel out of the country, antibiotics, blood pressure concerns, etc.  Willingness counts too!
Those of you who are interested in donating on a more regular basis in Erin's memory can do so anytime at any LifeSource location.  Just give the code 556C when you register.

We can't bring Erin back, and so we carry her forward with us through our days. It would please us if you would put your candle in a special place in your home, and on occasion light it in memory of our girl, to celebrate your presence at her 20th birthday party and to commemorate your generous act of donating the benefits of your good health to someone less fortunate.

If you're a planner, mark Saturday, May 12th on your 2012 calendar. That will be the celebration of Erin's 21st birthday. Hmmm... we could get interesting with those party favors! Give a pint, and then take a shot!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

at 7:25 am

on may 14, 1991

an indelible imprint was made
a unique and permanent impression
impervious, abiding

happy 20th birthday, erin

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Go, Spread the Light

Light the path
for those who are facing personal darknesses.

There are two ways of spreading light;
to be the candle
or the mirror that reflects it.
- Edith Wharton

The theme of this year's Blood Drive centers on our ability as healthy individuals to make the choice to lessen the burden for those who are struggling with the challenges of illnesses, accidents, surgeries and other difficult circumstances. Situations such as these often require the need for transfusions.

Sincere thanks to all who have signed up for 
Sunday's Blood Drive.
Click on "Blood Drive Sign-up Instructions" above 
if you've not had the chance to do so yet.
The number of donors is steadily increasing
(as of now 153  156 - let's hit last year's 186!)
as people are finding the time to fit this event into their busy weekend activities.
We're getting really excited about the thought of so many generous people
willing to Rock The Barn for a good cause.
Yes, there will be music.
Yes, there will be birthday cake and cookies.
Of course the cake will be chocolate... silly!

There are still available time slots for those of you who have expressed willingness to come and haven't had a chance to sign up yet. LifeSource will gratefully accept walk-ins, but they prefer scheduled appointments so better preparations can be made.  (We can open up more early morning time slots if necessary.  Please let me know.)  Everyone's day will run more smoothly with proper planning.  Thanks so much!


Arrive a few minutes prior to your scheduled time.
LifeSource will send you a reminder of that time via email.
Bring an ID - your driver's license is fine.
Eat a nutritious breakfast/lunch before coming to donate.
Make sure you're well-hydrated.
(I've personally found this to be the most important factor of a successful donation.)
Stay calm ~ don't be nervous!  I'll happily hold your hand if you get the jitters.
Smile. This is fun!

Bonus - you will feel SO good about making the time to help others.
Pat yourself on the back!

Did you know ~

  • only 5% of the national population donates blood regularly?
  • every 3 seconds someone needs blood?
  • 4.5 million Americans would die each year without transfusions?
  • your donation can help up to 3 individuals?

You must be 17 years of age or older to donate.
(16-year-olds may donate with written parental consent.)
There is NO upper age limit.
You must weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. (There's still time to bulk up!)

If you have a question about your eligibility due to any medication you're taking, or if have a concern related to a health condition that you think may prevent you from donating, please call
The LifeSource Medical Help Desk
(847) 803-7921
or (800) 486-0680

The majority of people are able to donate.
~ ~ ~
They say tragedy can make its way into your life 
very unexpectedly.
Believe me... it does.

it comes out of nowhere

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm Still Here

I've begun to receive a few tentative email queries
prompted by an absence of recent blog posts.
Are you there?   Is everything OK?   Are you feeling better?
Yes. Yes. And, yes.

But, I must admit this recovery period has been a bit more challenging than I think I was prepared for, and instead of blabbing about it on a regular basis in this public venue, I've instead turned focus to the management of the discomfort and to the business of trying to regain some of the energy my system seems to have lost. A frustrating part of this endeavor to overcome my recent narcoleptic tendencies has been the lack of cooperation in the weather department, and instead of the spring temperatures that typically prevail by the first part of May luring me to the dirt of my garden, Chicago has been plagued by chilly, drizzly, dreary weather, and I've instead turned to cozy recliner in the living room ~
Oh no, Keenan shrank!
No, that's just Chris & Tasha's dog hanging with me here.
Compared to Keenan, Buckley is about the size of my kidney!

~ and to the comfort of that wonderful bed pictured in my earlier post. It seems to be the easier alternative to braving the unpleasant elements outdoors. As one who doesn't sit still well, I've slowly learned over the past two weeks to listen with less protest to my aching belly and sapped energy levels, and crawl into that bed by 8:30 or 9:00 PM, and to do so complete with the dramatic, audible "moan" mentioned in the post's accompanying poem. Working one's opposable thumbs really can be draining!

My body has healed well. I was in Milwaukee this past Wednesday for my post-op appointment with the surgeon, and I received the go-ahead to resume normal activities as tolerated - long walks, biking, yoga - with the exception of heavy lifting for another couple of weeks. Oh darn! I can't haul all the crap out of the garage and do the spring clean-out in there! Dave? Chris? Matty?

I even received permission to get back in the pool, so I was able to lead my fitness classes at work while in the water yesterday. (I started back there on Tuesday.) It felt fabulous, but by the time I got home last night, Dave practically had to throw me over his shoulder in a fireman's carry and heave me into bed. A good night's sleep is a wonderful thing, and with the sun shining brightly today, the prediction of a temperature warm-up and a couple cups of Alterra coffee in me, I can feel the energy returning. There will still be an afternoon siesta, but I'm learning that's not necessarily a bad thing... for now.

The most important element of the whole recovery process has, of course, been Jim's body's willingness to accept my gently used kidney. Finding the correct balance of the dosages of anti-rejection medications is tricky business. Since April 19th, the nephrology team has been monitoring things closely through almost daily blood draws, and this past week there was some concern that first prompted a kidney ultrasound, which showed everything was connected properly and blood-flow was strong (so cool!), and then a biopsy yesterday. Biopsy? Yes. After living in the world of oncology for three years with Erin, the mere mention of the term makes me want to throw up, multiple times. We collectively held our breaths as they performed what they termed "a very routine biopsy procedure during the post-transplantation period" (yeah OK - maybe for YOU) on my kidney that is now in Jim's body (still so weird) and we received the fabulous news that there is absolutely NO SIGN OF REJECTION AT ALL. Amen... so, they will continue the complicated business of medication balance, and this will be an ongoing, lifetime routine. I told Jim his body and my kidney are just having a big brother vs little sister argument, each trying to attain the upper hand.

HAH - the cool part is that I get to win this argument!
He has to accept my conditions this time.   HAH again!
OK, we'll spend some time on the "friendship rug".

I continue to be amazed by this miracle of modern medicine. After Wednesday's appointment with the surgeon we had dinner with Jim and Sue, and I have to say Jim looks better than he has in months. It's just a little over two weeks since the surgery, and his energy level is higher, his color is great, and his positive outlook and sense of humor are steady and strong... and, Sue is a saint :)

As we approach Mother's Day this weekend and Erin's birthday on May 14th,
with a tumult of emotions causing my heart to jump all over the place,
and tears to flow a bit more frequently again,
I do so with a profound sense gratitude as well.

~ for the blessings of the past few weeks that feel like true miracles,
for the visuals of our butts hanging out the backs of our hospital gowns
as we waddled down the hall, complete with IV poles and catheter bags,
because if you can't laugh at yourself - forget it!
for the support of the communities 
both here and in Milwaukee, where neighbors are providing meals and transportation
to and from the hospital for Jim's many appointments ~

for Dave, Chris, Sarah, Matt, Tasha, Frank and Beth
Keenan and Buckley
and my sweet and ever-present Erin Elizabeth