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The Things That REALLY Matter…

May 11, 2010

So let’s talk about the life-altering experience I mentioned in my last post. It happened right after the race, but before we left the park where the race had started and ended.

Now when I decided to sign up for this 5K, it just happened to fall on my birthday, which I thought was sort of “symbolic” in a way, since it would be my first one. But what made it even more cool was that the race was run for pancreatic cancer research. It just so happens that I have not one, but two friends who know someone with pancreatic cancer. Both are young women who don’t deserve what life handed them. In a sick twist of fate, both of these women were also put on hospice within days of each other just a few weeks ago. The battle had ended and now it was just about keeping them as comfortable as possible until the end.

One of my friends is also a runner. So for the 5K, she set up a team to run in honor of her friend that was recently put on hospice. Team Jen was formed and I gladly joined the team. I received my Team Jen shirt that morning and proudly wore it to run the race. It was my pleasure.

After all of the runners and walkers had finished the 5K, my friend that had organized Team Jen started gathering us all up for a photo. As she went around finding everyone, I stood there waiting. A little boy, who I’d guess was about 8 or 9 years old was standing right in front of me, holding the poster that said “Team Jen” and had a photo of a beautiful young woman with pigtails and a huge smile on her face.

Someone else who had run on Team Jen (and who obviously knows the family) looked at the little boy and said, “Oh, are you holding the picture of your mom?”

The sweet little boy simply smiled and said, “Yup!” while looking down at her photo. I lost it. Tears welled up in my eyes and I turned away so he wouldn’t see me. I had no clue that the little boy less than 2 feet away from me was the son of the woman who had recently been told she didn’t have much longer to live. I knew in my heart that very soon, that boy was going to lose his mom. His world would be rocked and he’d go the rest of his life with only memories of the woman who had given birth to him and raised him as long as she could. No more hugs. No more kisses. No more tears being wiped away by his mommy.

I thought of my own two daughters at home and how painful it would be for them to lose me or Steve. And how if I knew my time was near, how I’d be devastated and worried about how my beautiful baby girls would survive without me. Who would take them shopping for their first bras and their prom dresses? Who would talk to them about getting their first period? Who would be there to watch them walk down the aisle? Who would hold their sweet children in their arms and be called Grandma?

The weight of the whole situation and what this particular 5K was really about pressed down on me. In that one instant of that little boy saying, “Yup!” with a smile on his face, I re-evaluated my entire life. I knew in my heart, that from that moment on, any time I thought about complaining about something trivial, I’d flash to that boy. Anytime I looked around my house and inwardly groaned about having to clean it, I’d flash to that boy and thank god that I could go around and clean it. Anytime the girls were acting up and giggling and laughing and being crazy when I wasn’t in the mood, I’d flash to that little boy and realize how lucky I am to be able to watch them laugh and play and run around.

So that morning, we all ran and walked in her honor. And then we gathered for a photo, which hopefully, she got to see.

Last night, I saw on my friend’s Facebook page, that Jen passed away. That woman with the sweet little boy is gone. And that sweet little boy is now without his mommy.

Here is a photo of me and my girls from Mother’s Day this past Sunday.

I’m hopeful that next Mother’s Day, I can once again be in a photo with my girls, all of us smiling and happy and together. Jen doesn’t have that privilege.

So tonight, hug and kiss your loved ones. And the next time you’re ready to rip your hair out because you have one kid that needs to be at one softball field and another who has to be at a field clear across town, and you have to feed your family dinner before you can leave, and then you’re fighting with your kids to do their homework once you get back home, I’m begging you to take a deep breath and let it go. Be grateful that you’re healthy enough to do all of those things, as stressful as they can be. And then hug and kiss them all again and realize that life is a short blip on the radar and that we all damn well better do something good with it and appreciate every blessed second of it.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Joy permalink
    May 12, 2010 2:31 PM

    Wow what a heart breaking story! It really made me reflect on my own life and really see the little thing that I stress about are nothing. I couldn’t imaging how hard it was for Jen to stay strong for her little man. God bless that little boy and his family.

  2. May 12, 2010 9:48 AM

    Beautiful, Allison. Sniff, sniff.

  3. May 12, 2010 2:38 AM

    That poor little boy, I feel so sorry for him. I hope I am around to support my kids for a lot longer, I love them so much. And thank you.

  4. Dawn permalink
    May 11, 2010 11:49 PM

    Thank you, Allison. To live everyday with gratitude is the best tribute to Jen. It is truly how she lived her life. She was taken from this earth too soon. But if we all live our lives this way because of her, it will honor her forever.

    • May 12, 2010 12:11 AM

      Oh, don’t thank me Dawn. I’m still not really sure how, but somehow, your friend that I never met managed to change my life that day. Yes, I’ve always been grateful for what I have, but I don’t make myself think about it on a regular basis (which I should). I held my kids a little closer tonight and found myself thinking about her son all day today. I can only hope I can continue to do that as time passes.

      My thoughts and prayers are with Jen’s friends and family. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for anyone, OK?

  5. May 11, 2010 9:32 PM

    Allison, I don’t even think I can get words out to comment. What a heartbreaking story. But you are so right, life happens in an instant and you never know when it’s going to change or end. A few weeks ago, Emma had a major accident that could have stopped my world. I thank God every day for him giving her to me and allowing her to stay with me, with her family. Not a day goes by, now, that I am not thankful for EVERY thing that my children do – even the laughing and chaos and noise and mess that they bring into my life. Without them, my life would not be what it is and I am SO thankful for that. I think God gives us these traumatic eye openers so that we can reevaluate our lives and change them, for the better, and hopefully help others at the same time.

  6. May 11, 2010 8:46 PM

    This is so true.

  7. Andrea permalink
    May 11, 2010 6:59 PM

    I’m crying like a baby! Thanks for this…I’m having one of “those” days, & it totally makes me want to sit & take a deep breath & be thankful for ALL that I have!

  8. Lisa permalink
    May 11, 2010 6:54 PM

    Sitting here with tears in my eyes and a very painful lump in my throat. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. krishna permalink
    May 11, 2010 6:19 PM

    OMG, I’m crying for Jen, for her little boy and family. I’m so proud of your accomplishment and honoring someone that has to face that situation. I will do my best to remember your story when I think to myself that I need a mommy-break.

  10. Carrie permalink
    May 11, 2010 6:16 PM

    Amen, Sister. What a beautiful post and a great reminder.

  11. May 11, 2010 5:52 PM

    Amen and amen. Thank you, Allison.

  12. Heather permalink
    May 11, 2010 5:28 PM

    Sometimes it just all needs to be put back into perspective. Beautiful post.

  13. Kim permalink
    May 11, 2010 5:21 PM


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