A Worthy Cause, One Amazing Day

This past weekend an old friend from High School, Melissa Nichols and her family who started the My Sweet Melissa Foundation to raise money for cancer research and families of its victims held the Striking out Cancer Softball Tournament. Melissa is a cancer survivor herself and one of the most compassionate people I have ever known. I am proud to call her my friend. Out of her personal experience she organized…again a day of free spirited fun, triumph and love for everyone who shared her experience or knew someone who had. In the process she brought together old friends and rekindled friendships that time and life had drifted apart. I was fortunate to get to spend several hours of my Saturday watching the tournament and talking with friends I had not seen in fifteen to twenty years. Despite the heat, it was truly an amazing day.
However, amongst the happiness of the day there hung an air of sorrow. A classmate of many present, myself included, had just lost a friend and peer to this horrible disease only a few days before the tournament, Marcy McDonald. From my understanding Ms. McDonald was diagnosed and gone within six weeks leaving behind a husband and two young children. I had not seen her since High School, but I will always remember Marcy as having a permanent smile on her lips and bringing laughter to our ears. Not only did she fill everyone’s heart with joy, she was a stunningly beautiful young lady. The pictures that I saw of her recently showed that she became more beautiful throughout the years since I had seen her. Marcy touched many lives and will be dearly missed my all those who knew and loved her.
After a grueling day in the heat many of Marcy’s former classmates gathered together at a local pub to celebrate her life. I would estimate there was close to if not over a hundred of us there. The cover charge (and anything extra that people wanted to give) was donated to Marcy’s husband and children. The spirits poured, toasts were served and hugs were aplenty. Some danced others conversed, but it was packed so tightly that it was challenging to make way through the crowded room. My close friend, Andrea whom I have known since the sixth grade accompanied me as (according to my husband) my body guard. It was the only way I was allowed to attend because of my recent shoulder surgery. She did her best to keep people from grabbing me, hugging or squeezing that shoulder, but when you have a room full of various levels of intoxicated people it is going to happen and it did. When I woke up on Sunday morning I felt as bad as I had the first week after my surgery. That evening set back my recovery a great deal. Still, I had such a great time catching up with old friends, having a few cocktails and sharing old stories. Being silly, Andrea and I laughed about the irony of what twenty years had done to all of us. Time had touched us all in numerous ways. The handsome jock was now bald and overweight, the cheerleader had gotten recently married (again) this time in a moo-moo, while the former scrawny nerd was now the most good looking, successful man in the room with the best looking wife who still had an hour glass figure. We joked about how some of our former peers (the men) now had larger chests than us.
Time had certainly changed us all. Some of us had fulfilled the dreams and aspirations of our youth, some of us had watched them die and settled for what we could get. Many were married, divorced, and married again…several times. Most had children; the ages ran up and down the scale of the last twenty plus years. All were showing proud pictures of their offspring to long lost friends. There was a lot of laughter and even some tears and heartfelt apologizes for past discretions.
All in all a good time was had by everyone…from what I observed. Though it was a tragedy that brought us all together, we got a chance to celebrate the life of a dear friend who had touched our hearts. Having close family members who had battled and survived and battled and lost, I pray that a cure is found so that another family, child, woman or man will not have to suffer. I know what happens to a family when this monster arrives at their doorstep. No one should ever have to experience that. Life is difficult enough without having to battle the invisible monster hiding in the closet.

Here’s hoping…

Enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with a good book or at least I hope it turns out to be a good book. Six months or so ago at the urging of my daughter I read the first four books in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I figured I would give them a chance since I really enjoyed both Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince by the same author that were prequels to the aforementioned. The first three were entertaining enough. I liked them all right even though I felt they held nothing on the Vampire Academy series. However, the fourth installment, City of Fallen Angels was a huge disappointment and I wished the series had ended with the City of Glass. Therefore, when the City of Lost Souls was released recently I was in no rush to get it. However, yesterday I came across it at our local library and decided I would give it a try. So far I am only on page 62 out of the 534 pages and I must admit it is better than the previous one.
Now back to the book…

Mid-West Friday Night

Considering this Mid-Western summer has been the hottest in recorded history with 44+ days over 90 degrees and humidity that off the charts and no rain whatsoever, today was a very welcome reprieve. Today was a mere 73 degrees slightly sunny with a gentle breeze. The perfect weather for taking a long walk around the neighborhood, along the city streets or better still, through the woods. While the typically beautiful season of Fall leaves mid westerners surrounded by fiery colors, bonfires and the smell of apples, this year we will have no such delights. Yet this year, the majority of our trees have already shed their leaves, bonfires have been banned and most of the crops have dried up and withered away. This leaves little to look forward to outside.
As with most the kids across the country, our small corner of the world resumed school and tonight is our first hometown High School Football game. The weather is perfect as parents pile into the stadium, the band begins tuning up their instruments and hundreds of kids mill about aimlessly all talking at once divided into their little clicks.
Twenty years after my own High School graduation I watch my own 15 year old daughter and her friends dance about her bedroom listening to some band I don’t recognize, putting on their make-up and fixing their hair before they head back to school for the first Friday night Football game of the season. Their excitement is almost intoxicating, their laughter, their chatter. I stand outside her bedroom door and close my eyes. It is almost a replica of me and my old friends. The gossiping, the playful banter, the worrying about if so n’ so noticed you in the cafeteria that day at school. The entire scene plays out the same across thousands of households at the same time.
Finally the hour has arrived. The girls have their school ID’s, their pocket money and their sweatshirts. I drop them off at the gates and they literally bounce to the stadium. The sun begins to fad behind the school as the lights over the school stadium come to life. As I pull out of the parking lot amidst the sea of other parents I vaguely hear the announcer’s voice ring out over the crowd and a whistle blows.
Now I for one would never want to relive my teen years let along my High Schools days…they weren’t that fabulous the first time around, but in the split second that I stirred my car back towards our suburban neighborhood in Nowhere Special, America, I found myself envying my daughter’s youth and the kinds of friendships it entails. I don’t miss those days, but I do miss those friends…