For the past two days, I've been hosting a business meeting in San Diego.
Since all of my co-workers also work out of their homes and are spread throughout California, we don't see each other very often. So once a quarter we get together for a few days to discuss business operations - goals for the year - and then, we try to spend some time on a "team building" event.
It was my responsibility to set up the hotel for our first quarter meeting and also, to arrange the team building event for my group. And because we didn't have a Christmas party this year, my boss told me that we should stay somewhere nice and do something fun.
So, I took his words to heart and I booked our meeting at The Lodge in Torrey Pines.
It is a five-star resort situated on the 18th hole of the Torrey Pines Golf Course, which is where the Buick Invitational will be played, next week. And deciding it was time to triumph over my fear of flying, the "team building" event that I planned was a hot air balloon trip over the beach communities of Del Mar and La Jolla.
Little did I know that 8 of my 10 co-workers are terrified of heights.
But everyone went.
Everyone had fun, but we were scared out of our wits.
Everyone felt that being together in what could be our final hour, was a great team builder.
Everyone was thankful (so very, very thankful) to be back on solid ground.
Everyone drank wine with dinner.
And everyone said that wine had never tasted so good.
Coincidentally, the hospital where my friend Deana was admitted last Friday, was 1/2-mile from the hotel where I planned our meeting, three months ago. So on my drive up to the hotel Tuesday night, I swung by the hospital with a dozen chocolate chip cookies that my husband had baked for her, Tuesday afternoon. Opting at the very last minute to spend just one night in pure luxury, Charlie and the kids drove up with me, while I ran in to the hospital to drop off the cookies and say hello. (And I'm really so glad they decided to come because the kids are a tremendous help transporting luggage.)
When I arrived at the hospital, Deana's door was closed and I could see that her room was dark. Not wanting to bother her or wake her from what I hoped was a restful sleep, I asked one of the nurses if she could just deliver the cookies when Deana woke up. But the nurse assured me that Deana was awake - she had just checked her vitals - and my visit would not be a disruption.
You know, it's funny because I don't really know Deana that well. We've communicated via e-mail for the past few years and gone to the zoo together, once. But I feel so much love and compassion for this woman. With the struggles that she and her husband, Jack, faced to start a family before adopting two beautiful little boys from the same birth mother less than two years apart, theirs is an incredible story.
I followed the nurse in to the room and there was my friend, resting under a warm blanket. Despite the fact that she was on oxygen and had an IV and was just starting to grow back her hair - which would soon be lost again with this newest round of chemo - she looked beautiful.
She told me that the cancer had returned and is in her ribs, pressing on a nerve in her back. With this relapse, the doctor's have said that her chance of surviving this year are 50%. Once she is in remission, they hope to complete a bone marrow transfer. We spoke for a few more minutes before I could see that she was tired and needed to rest.
The next day in my meeting, a mere 2,640 feet up the road from where my friend laid in her hospital bed, I was struck by this overwhelming urge to drop to my knees and pray. My arms were resting on the table, but my knees were on the ground and with folded hands I prayed, "Dear God, please heal Deana. Please make her well. Please let her return home to her children and her husband. Please allow her to grow old. Please God, please allow her to see those beautiful little boys grow up."
That afternoon when we went up in our hot air balloon, I prayed for her some more. And I prayed for myself of course, that I didn't drop like a brick from the sky. What the heck was I doing VOLUNTARILY dangling in a wicker BASKET tied to some fabric and a FLAME when I have four small children at home?!
While I was up there floating in that balloon 3,500 feet above the earth, I was struck with an idea. When we landed and I called home to tell my husband that I had survived the balloon ride and hey, what does he think about running the Rock-n-Roll Marathon at the end of May with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Deana, it slightly surprised me when he said yes.
(Note, I'm not planning to run a marathon. Because after the past few weeks of consistently running, I've been reminded that I am not a runner and if I can make it three miles this weekend in the Surf City 5K without coughing up a lung, I will consider it a raging success. And of course one of us needs to stay home with the children.)
But I convinced my beloved husband to run 26.2 miles in just a few short months, because I'm good that way. (But he's even better.) We won't dwell on the fact that Charlie hasn't run more than three miles in over four years. In return, I have vowed to do whatever I can to help him raise funds.
Ahem. Consider yourself warned.