I don’t want to blink …

I don’t want to blink. I don’t want to miss any more of this. The last year feels like a blur, and I feel like I wasn’t fully present for my life, for my family. I was selfish and said no to volunteering, social functions & life in general some days. I needed to, in order to just get by. Sometimes I feel like I should have done more, since I had an “easier/stage 1″ cancer. I missed out though, I closed my eyes too much. Now my oldest son is 2” taller than me and my youngest one can finally say breakfast instead of “brefkist.”

Today, and this weekend, is graduation for many. In 5 short years, I’ll be doing the same. I don’t want to blink. I don’t want to miss it. Today, my boys played with foam swords and horsed around on the water. They laughed and chased each other, and I literally had tears in my eyes. I know this won’t last. I know that there will be summer jobs, and girls and camps etc, and my time with them will slip through my fingers.

I think I know why the youngest in the family is usually spoiled. (I’m the youngest so I can comment on this – ha ha) It’s because that’s when it sinks in for the parents – this is the last. The last little one. The last tooth fairy and Santa. The last Kindergarten program and science fair. So we try to hold on, soak it in and make it last a little longer. (Plus sometimes we are just more tired, so we give in)  We may have been in such a sleep-deprived zombie state with our first kids to fully realize this. Now it starts to sink in. So we say “yes” to a few more things… staying up later, an extra treat, etc.

For those of you with graduates today, take it all in. I hope the day goes well. I hope you realize that it doesn’t matter what kind of food you have or how many decorations there are. If your kids are happy, that is enough. For those graduating today, remember your parents love you… probably more than you can comprehend  right now. Enjoy the next stage in your life. Have some fun, learn something new & have some amazing adventures. To your parents, you are enough.  Peace be with you today. I’ll be the one with my eyes wide open, trying not to blink.

My wish for you…

My wish for you is that you will do something in your life that’s out of your comfort zone. Something that you thought you’d never be able to do (in a good way, not an illegal way 😉) Yesterday, I completed my 4th half marathon, but my first one “post cancer.” I didn’t prepare enough for it, and I knew that. I had started training with a great group in Fargo in January (Faster Stronger Runner.) I soon realized that I’d need to walk more than run. I started skipping the training sessions. My kids had events, it was too cold… Lots of excuses. The problem was, that I don’t feel like a runner. I don’t love it like my husband does. I’m not fast. I cannot talk when I run. I don’t get a runner’s high. I had committed to do the half though, and I wasn’t going to back out. I did most of my training on my own, enjoying the quiet time.

Leading up to the half marathon, the weather reports showed it being hotter than it has been in this area. 80 degrees is great for spectators, but not great for most runners. You need to take in more water and try to keep your body cool. I started out ahead of the three hour pace group, knowing that they’d eventually pass me. That was ok. My main goal was to finish. I gave lots of high 5’s to kids and adults. I wore a big pink tutu and my “TeamEdith” hat. (I raised over $275 for breast cancer research) I twirled my tutu in the street, told the story behind it to a few people, and smiled big each time someone yelled, “nice tutu!” The temps were much hotter than I would have liked, but you have to deal with the day as it comes. I took water and Powerade at every stop. I ran through each sprinkler, and took advantage of kids with squirt guns. A friend handed me a bag of ice, which made its way around my body – in my bra, under my arms and in my hat. My husband and kids were out to cheer me on. Their cheers, hugs and high fives were wonderful. They walked with me the last mile. One advantage of Cameron being a 6 time finisher of the same race, he knew the last mile would be tough. He was right. They kept me going, and I was able to shuffle/jog into the Fargodome. My sister was in the stands, and husband and kids were right along the finish line. I did it!

I thought for sure I’d cry at the end. I didn’t. Maybe I was too dehydrated. I did almost pass out, but managed to keep it together (despite being clammy and having everything flashing/going spotty.) What did make me cry was when I thought of the people I was thankful for. I texted some of them as I was waking on the course. Not everyone, but some I was able to text as I ran “their mile.” The people towards the end had much shorter notes. At mile 5/6 there was a man in a wheelchair without legs, cheering on the side of the road. His sign said “take a step for me, I’ll be with you..” Something to that effect. I was crying in the street because I could walk/run/jog – it’s all about perspective. It made me think that a year ago, I had a broken foot, was recovering from lumpectomy & radiation and I was getting ready for a hysterectomy. This is why I ran. Because I can. I wanted to show people, and my kids, that you can do anything you put your mind to. My pain is only temporary. A few days from now, stairs won’t hurt as much and I will be able to get up more easily.

I struggled with not being fast enough, good enough, going far enough… But the look on my family’s faces said that I was enough. Peace be with you on your journey of enough & may you take the time to enjoy some high fives and spectators cheers. God put them there for you.

Let us run with perseverance…

The young man on the right is my son, getting ready for a 100m race. It’s a race that he didn’t win, but he did his best and didn’t give up. The verse is one of my favorites. It is also printed on the back of the Fargo Marathon medals.

The Fargo Marathon is coming up this weekend. There are several events leading up to it, but the one I’ll be concerned with is the half marathon. For the past 6 years, my husband has run the Fargo full marathon.  26.2 miles is not on my bucket list. I’m content to be a marathoner’s wife. At some point last year, I decided that when I beat cancer, I’d finish another half marathon. (It didn’t seem like a good idea when it was super cold out though.) Regardless of my finishing time, I plan to complete the race.

“Perseverance”… not giving up. It applies to more than just running. Steady persistence in a course of action is one definition. Don’t give up is a lesson that I hope I’ve taught our boys. Facing cancer head on, broken foot, hysterectomy etc – I didn’t give up. Were there days that I wanted to? Yep. I’m human. We all are. My husband got a stomach bug during his last marathon. He looked longingly at the medical tent, tempted to give up. But he didn’t. He wanted to show our boys perseverance. Will they understand it today? Maybe not. But they will have the memory of him sticking with it.

“The race marked out for us…” Just as the marathon organizers plan out the course and mark it with spray paint, orange cones & traffic directors, God does the same for us. Sometimes we don’t see the signs. We are too busy looking ahead to see what’s next, or looking behind us to see who’s coming, & we don’t pay attention to his signs. We may be tempted to quit or to take a different route. We might be so busy worrying about our feet hurting that we forget to high 5 the little kids on the sidelines, to thank the volunteers or just to soak up all of the positive energy. God puts people in our lives to help direct us. While they may not have orange reflective vests on, they are there to gently guide us down the correct route. Have you ever felt this? That someone was placed in our life for you to learn something or to help you go a certain direction? They were. And there are more signs if we just pay attention.

I hope you take the opportunity to watch a marathon or a half marathon. It’s amazing. I get emotional each time I watch. The things that our bodies can do are simply amazing. All kinds, shapes, sizes and ages will be in the race. For some, their speed and grace is beautiful to see. For others like me, their goal is to finish… to persevere. Cheer them all on!!

Saturday will be an emotional day. Whatever my finish time is, it will be enough. Crossing the finish line will symbolize more than just 13.1 miles. I’ll be the one in the pink tutu. Come out & cheer me on. I’ll be accepting high 5’s also.

Mother’s Day reflections…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. The above picture was one of the handmade gifts from my 9 (almost 10) year old. Even though our days go on much more normally (post cancer),  it’s obviously still prominent in his mind. It will have a lasting impact on his life, but my hope is that he will remember how I fought … and how my faith and family helped me through. 

I remember a Mother’s Day several years ago, when I was still in school. Our pastor talked about how it wasn’t necessarily a happy day for everyone. At the time, I couldn’t understand that. We made Mother’s Day gifts, did something special for mom and probably saw a grandma or two. What’s not to love? Little did I know that years later I would understand what she meant & her words would resonate in my mind. You see, there were several Mother’s Days that I spent in tears. I vividly remember having to leave a church service on Mothers Day because it was Mothers Day AND they were doing a baptism – double whammy. Although I currently have two wonderful boys, it took us a while to get them. We struggled with infertility for years. It’s something that’s not talked about much. People whisper about infertility (and miscarriage) like it’s something to be ashamed of, and it’s not. The experience made me appreciate my kids more than I ever imagined. I think that I (we) went through this experience so that I could possibly help others. Over the years, after losing my grandmothers, I also realized that people have lost their mothers and Mother’s Day is hard for them too. Moms who have lost kids must have an unimaginably hard day. I can’t begin to wrap my head around that so I won’t pretend to understand.

This past Mother’s Day was spent at the lake with some of my family. Although the day was mundane to some – we painted a cabin & the boys fished … we were together. My husband apologized to my mom for her painting on Mother’s Day, but I knew she wouldn’t have had it any other way. She got to see 2 of her daughters, a son-in-law, 2 granddaughters, 2 grandsons and her great granddaughter. We were together on a beautiful Minnesota spring day. She didn’t care what we were doing or what we ate. What a blessing. 

My boys woke up extra early to get some fishing in before the painting started. Myles, the youngest, came into my room at 6:30 am. “Mom, I know it’s Mother’s Day, but they’re really hammering the crappies at the bridge. Can we go get some minnows?” I agreed, and we went in to town to get some bait. The smiles on their faces were worth the lack of sleep. Record setting fish in their books. 

So, if your Mother’s Day was spent with your mom or your kids, then I hope it was great. If you’re missing your mom, I hope you have comforting, loving memories to hold on to. If you are wishing for kids but cannot have them, or have lost a child, I hope you are able to find the support and love that you need. 

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Flow charts & husbands…

Today was the Radiation Oncologist follow up. (aka the flow chart Dr)  There is a whole team assigned to you when you are diagnosed and they follow you for years. Today I was cleared for just yearly appointments with this Dr, which is good news. 

There are quite a few things about the last year that are a blur, but this is something I will never forget. I met with Dr. Jensen after I was diagnosed but before I had the genetic testing done or really knew my treatment plan. He asked if there was anything else he could help me with. I said I wasn’t sure but he could tell that something was wrong.  I explained that all of this info was so overwhelming that I just needed a flow chart or something. Without missing a beat, he said, “I can do that for you.” He pulled a piece of paper from his printer and in non-stereotypical Doctor handwriting, he wrote me a beautiful flow chart. If this, then that… almost made me cry. Not because of the flow chart, but because someone cared enough, took the time to see my distress and wanted to help me navigate this scary path. 

This is something that transcends cancer. It’s something all of us could do more of – taking the time to care. Take the time to look a person in the eyes. Ask if they are doing ok and really mean it. This doctor treated me like a person, not a patient. He treated me with the same care that he would give to his sister or wife. Many of the people at the cancer center are the same way – it’s one of the things that makes them top notch. Caring people. From Chuck, the valet parking guy to the nurses to the doctors – caring people make a difference. 

So if you’re one of my few followers, I encourage you to challenge yourself to care more. Just that little extra bit can really make someone’s day. A simple flow chart might make all the difference to them. Do you know one of the reasons everyone loves my husband? He does this (he has no idea how rare or special it is) He asks people questions, leads them to talk, remembers their stories and follows up with questions days later. He cares. He treats everyone like they are someone. He visited with the Dish TV lady the other day. Most people might be silent while waiting for their receiver to update. Nope, not him. He asked her about her shift, what country she was in, what her hobbies were, what the weather was like etc. He sometimes says that he is just a para at the school, but it’s more than that. He talks to the kids at school like people, not problems. He plays tag with them at recess and asks about their loose tooth or their hunting trip. He plays games with them and answers questions in class if the kids don’t know the answer.

So tomorrow, be like the flow chart Dr or like Mr.Frueh & care a little extra. It will go a long way in making someone else feel like they are “enough.”