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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Only 15 pages...

I know it's been a terribly long time since I've posted, and I feel it in my heart. It's the weight of a thousand heavy thoughts not allowed to drift out of my head, filtered by my unconscious and let go...or sometimes, fingered in my fully conscious mind over and over like a perfect stone. I have been so busy that I have neglected many things out of neccesity: my laundry, my house, my dogs, my biking, my sleep, and even deep thought.

The YSC Tour de Pink Duluth is one week away. At this time, seven days from now, the die will have been cast; it will be in motion, out of my control and I am looking forward to the feeling of being set free. In all, this has been a wonderful experience. I've learned a lot. I' ve managed a long term task. And best of all, I've met and become friends with a lot of really great, generous, inspiring people.

But some tasks have been harder. Like asking for money. Lord knows, I hate that. I am getting better, though. I'm even getting better at asking for help. That's a minor miracle.

I presented myself with a task that I was looking forward to and avoiding all at the same time. Our ride, or at least our After-Party, is in memory of a friend and former YSC Duluth member, Tricia Orlowski Schaefer. Tricia died 2 1/2 years ago after her cancer metastasized quite quickly. From the time of her initial diagnosis to the time of her death only 20 months had passed. I am still shaken by it. She was a remarkable person. Not in any way that would make her stand out in a crowd, yet she was magnetic. I think it was because of her complete honesty. She was always herself. Angry, sad, happy, or worried, she wore it all authentically. She didn't sit around and feel sorry for herself. Yet she didn't put up a front either. She was courageous in her honesty. She was beautiful, she had tons of friends, a wonderful husband, two little girls ages 2 and 4, and a family that adored her. The unfairness of her death at 34 so early in her girls life still upsets me. The pain and anger associated with it have not diminished with time.

So the task I gave myself was to create a display board about Tricia. I wanted it to tell her story. I also wanted it to show people why we were all riding, why I've worked so hard these months, along with many others to try to make whatever difference we can. I wanted to highlight her incredible family; her seven brothers and sisters who have all joined us in this effort, to highlight their bravery and grace and generosity. They are sharing Tricia with the world to make it a better place.

Part of the job started with me researching Tricia through her own words. I went and copied her journal posts from her Caring Bridge website. It is moving to read her words, especially noting how truly inspiring they were. Even though at the time of their writing they might have passed with little notice because they were so...Tricia. Her honesty was reflected in her wisdom and the way she dealt with her cancer. Reading those words again was incredibly inspiring.

But what struck me was how few there really were. Copied and pasted into a Word document they only amounted to fifteen pages of text. Fifteen pages covering the time when the fear of her cancer reoccurrence was put into words until her last entry. Fifteen pages to cover birthdays, family vacations, summertime and the state fair, Halloween, and Christmas. Fifteen pages of hope, denial, acceptance, sadness, regret, celebration, life, happiness, and even everyday simplicity. Only fifteen pages. They are precious. They are far too few.

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