Sunday, June 07, 2009

marathon magic

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when it felt like ... magic?

That's what this past week has been like for us.

On Monday, when I could hardly walk, everyone came to our house and we spent some time at the pool and sitting in the hot tub. While I popped Tylenol like candy and cried like a baby that my legs hurt. And my feet.

And well, come to think of it ... pretty much everything from the neck down.

On Tuesday, Charlie showed everyone around Sea World while I worked.

On Wednesday, Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill, Margaret, Alexander and Brian took a train ride up the California coast to ... somewhere. Nobody knew where exactly they were going when they first boarded the train, they just knew that they wanted to see the coastline.

As luck - perhaps - would have it, they wound up at San Juan Capistrano, where they visited the Jewel of the California Missions. They spent some time in the oldest building in all of California, a chapel that was constructed in 1782. And within this mission, there was a chapel that had been dedicated to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer patients. Seeing as my family is Catholic and have been praying to St. Peregrine, this was rather special.

And cosmically coincidental.

On Thursday, we visited Legoland.

We had just walked in to the park when we bumped in to Jack Reynolds - Deana's husband - with his two boys Zach and Zane. Jack was at the park celebrating Zach's third birthday. While we stood talking about Deana's stem cell transplant which will be happening in a few weeks, and I watched her little boys running around with their grandparents, I felt positively sick over what this family has had to endure the past 10-months.

On Friday, we visited Balboa Park and strolled past all the beautiful museums, gardens...

And fountains.

And a silver mime that juggles.

Last night, when we were having our farewell dinner at a seafood restaurant on the waterfront...

Uncle Bill told me that this trip is the first time in years that he has flown by airplane. When I inquired why - he told me that it's because he is concerned about the risk of infection. And who wouldn't be concerned about the risk of infection when they have stage four cancer and a suppressed immune system because they have undergone intensive regiments of chemotherapy?

But when Uncle Bill told me this, it felt like I was being pulled back from a dream, because for a short time this week, I had actually forgotten that one of my favorite people in the world was fighting cancer. Sure, I noticed that he needed to sit down every now and again, but the light in his eyes and his wonderful stories and his cheerful demeanor made you forget.

And the fact that he was here, in San Diego, several thousand miles from home, after the health challenges he has faced for the past few years ... to me, it was nothing short of miraculous and a true testament to the strength of this man's will and positive attitude.

I don't hate very many things.

But I'll tell you what.

I really hate cancer.

I hate what it is doing to Deana and I hate what it is doing to my Uncle Bill and I hate what it is doing to Jim. I hate what it does to the families. I hate what it has done to so many good people that I care about. I hate what it is going to do to so many good people, still. But I'll also tell you that I have loved experiencing, firsthand, how people are brought together and inspired by something as devastating as cancer. It makes you appreciate the here and now - unlike anything other.

I have loved this week.

I loved participating in the marathon with my awesome cousin and husband - I loved that we raised money for cancer research - and I loved that my Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill were at the finish line.

I have loved spending time with our family.

I have loved watching our children bond with their second cousins.

I have loved watching five matching hats running around.

I have loved watching Henry sit still and be cute. As opposed to say, scream and run away and throw himself on the ground in protest. Because those are just a few of the toddler characteristics that he has mastered these days.

I have loved sharing a good meal and a good bottle of wine (or margaritas) at various restaurants around town with some of the best people I know.

I have absolutely loved watching my Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill together.

They have been married for more than 50 years, but they are so good to one another.

The love and devotion that they have for each other is truly inspirational and every time I would watch them walk away - holding hands - or with their arms around one another, I tried to snap off a picture to memorialize the moment.

But pictures can't adequately capture the beauty of their relationship.

I have loved teasing Margaret - relentlessly - about her addiction to Diet Coke.

And she - in return - absolutely loved beating Charlie in the hand pump fire truck race at Legoland.

I had NO idea my cousin was SO competitive...

Which is why it came as such a COMPLETE surprise...

That she yelled across the park, "I WIN! I WIN!! YOU LOSE!! I WIN! I WIN! YOU LOSE! I AM THE WINNER!! ME! ME! I WIN!!" to my husband.

Despite that, I still loved showing my cousin around town and taking her to places that will hopefully motivate her to keep running.

I loved that before she left San Diego this morning, she insisted on going by Trader Joe's and as we walked across the parking lot in to the store, she pulled out her camera and told me that she was so excited she was getting the chills.

It was good to know I wasn't the only one that felt that way.

The fact that Margaret stuffed whatever open space she had remaining in her suitcase with these items ... just further confirms we really are cut from the same cloth.


I don't think Margaret wanted her entire family to know that she is bringing home several boxes of highly coveted chocolate from California. It seems they don't have a Trader Joe's in South Carolina?


Maybe next time she'll rethink letting my husband win on the fire trucks.


  1. I love this post!

    Oh Baby, we are a VERY competitive family. {With a very tiny side of vengeance}. There are soooo many similarities between us all that the miles will never divide.

    However, chocolate is our strongest bond of all....

    Thanks for sharing your week with us.

    Peg O.

    P.S. Margaret, We have Trader Joe's in Massachusetts, too.

  2. This post bought me to tears. I think its my favourite post yet.

  3. Congratulations on completing the marathon, big toe blister and all -- what an awewome goal met!! And for all you and your family are doing to fight cancer. 'Two Thumbs Up'!!

    I really think you're a sort of 'Super Mom' : ) Great photos, always enjoy reading your posts and seeing pics of your cuties. And the hats -- awesome!

    Enjoy your Sunday ~

  4. Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill, now that's magic.

  5. Trader Joe's. Oh, how I miss Trader Joe's. We don't have it in Texas either, possibly because the headquarters of Whole Foods is just down the street. I make all my college buddies bring me Trader Joe's cereal when they visit from the East or West coasts.

    I hate cancer too. Hate, hate, hate.

    We just got news that my wonderful mother-in-law's lymphona is no longer in remission. Fortunately, she has the same sunny outlook as your uncle. She's beat it once. She'll beat it again.

  6. Awesome post.........I agree, what a perfect week! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    AND Margaret is amazing! That fire truck challenge is hard.

  7. Beautiful post Jen. You have brought me to tears.....again. I cannot look at Uncle Bill and Aunt Grace without choking up. Word to Marg.....Too much Diet Coke causes freckles! LOL

    To Peg O. - competitive with a "tiny" side of vengenance???


  8. Beautiful post. Kudos on your running that marathon, that is truely something amazing, I could never do that.

    I found your post trough the "Itstwinsanity" blog, and I love your writing style, you make me laugh a lot which is awesome.

    I am currently reading "The China Study" by Campbell, and thought I should share with you. I believe you will love that book. He talks about cancer and about how people cured or treated it. If you really want to help your loved ones, go buy that book and read it right away! You will be amazed.


  9. Great post and it looks like you all had a blast. Many, thanks to Alex and Kathlene who look wonderfully happy with the kids. I am so sorry I had to miss it. Looking forward to next time.
    MOPS Mary Lamphier and others are so impressed with this blog.

  10. Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill... could they be any cuter? I wish that kind of hard work and happiness on everyone. I pray that Adam and I get 50+ years together! Thanks for sharing your awesome week!

  11. Hi Jen! Love this post!

    Thank you so much for a VERY MEMORABLE WEEK indeed! I can't believe it's taken sooo long to get out there! I felt like Elizabeth and wanted to suck my thumb with bunny when our plane took off!! ;-)

    SAN DIEGO ROCKS!! It was wonderful to spend time w/you, the kids and Charlie. You guys are such wonderful host! I recommend EVERYONE go out for a visit!! (and STAY AT JEN'S!) ;-)

    Thank you so much for showing us all a wonderful time. Giving us a grand tour, showing us great organizational tips, feeding us a five star breakfast, a wonderful dinner and especially the driving lessons! ;-)

    We had so much fun and so many laughs! Although I missed my hubby, it was hard to come home.

    You both are a great couple, amazing parents and great at what you do. It was a joy to watch and your kids are SOOO cute!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. We LOVED spending time with all of you.

    For the record, the picture of TJ's was fixed ;-) and Charles Brought the challenge...his exact quote "Ya ready? Finnell's against the Lawerence's". Oh yeah! - He went down... HARD! ;-)

    BIG BIG HUGS and kisses! Love, Marathon Margaret (M squared!) ;-)

    PS The pictures of my parents brought me tears. Priceless.

  12. Off topic, but we are thinking of vacationing in San Diego in July. Do you thinkg 20 mos is too young to enjoy Legoland?


  13. Very wonderful post! I hate cancer also. You really did see the town, we have wonderful places to go and visit here. Beautiful pictures of the city!