A James Joyce moment.

Hi Dad.

Nobody told me how hard nights like this would be to get through.  I expected sorrowful moments to happen on special occasions when the seat that used to be occupied by you was empty.  Not nights like this one…nothing special, just me and my pjs and my computer and my thoughts of you.  I feel your presence every day, and I hear your words so much it sometimes makes me laugh out loud.  But it’s when I stop “doing” and just “be” that the realization you are not coming back here really hurts.  I think about how lucky we were to have had you.  Of course I do that.  I think about how happy you were here with us, and how happy you made your grandchildren.  Of course I do that.  But I think that you never were able to see Shane wrestle.  I never heard you yell “Go Shane-o!”  from the bleachers.  We never heard you say how strong he is.  I want to hear you tell him he should be a running back, like you did hundreds of times; each time with such conviction.  I want those things on nights like this.  I want to hear you talking with Greg on the couch while Sixty Minutes is on in the background…ticking away- that tick that always drives me crazy.  I want you to come into the kitchen and open my cabinets and grab some Cheez-its.  I want to hear you say “I think Mum and I are gonna go now.”  I am sad because you didn’t get to congratulate Hope and Emma today on their first airplane flight without any parents.  I want to hear you tell them its a “nice country, huh!” because they are in Naples swimming in the pool and driving the golf cart.  We took Chad to Bertucci’s tonight and he ate two slices of pizza.  I want you to ask me if he’s eating any better.  I want to hear you say to him,  “You gotta eat Chad.  You gotta eat.”  Shane is out on the town with his friends, but if you were here, I’ll bet he would be here too.  He keeps close tabs on Mum now that you are not here.  He makes her laugh. I want you to bear witness to Emma’s continued drama.  God love her, she’s a sweetheart,  but man can she turn on the drama.  I want you to chuckle to yourself at how many times a day Emma cries…like you did when you would work here.  I can hear your laughter now.  I read something that basically said, “missing someone is not about the last time you spoke to them or saw them…it’s about being in the middle of doing something and looking up, expecting them to be there.”  I miss you tonight.  Just a regular old Sunday night in February with nothing going on.  Nobody told me that these would be the hardest kind of nights.  You are in my heart forever….on my mind always.



p.s. Chad loves almonds!  Who would have guessed.

Should You Go First

Should you go first and I remain

To walk the road alone,

I’ll live in memory’s garden, dear,

With happy days we’ve known

In Spring I’ll wait for roses red,

When fades the lilac blue,

In early Fall, when brown leaves call

I’ll catch a glimpse of you.

Should you go first and I remain

For battles to be fought,

Each thing you’ve touched along the way

Will be a hallowed spot

I’ll hear your voice, I’ll see your smile,

Though blindly I may grope,

The memory of your helping hand

Will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain

To finish with the scroll,

No length’ning shadows shall creep in

To make this life seem droll.

We’ve had our cup of joy,

And memory is one gift of God

That death cannot destroy.

Should you go first and I remain,

One thing I’d have you do:

Walk slowly down that long,lone path,

For soon I’ll follow you.

I’ll want to know each step you take

That I may walk the same,

For some day down that lonely road

You’ll hear me call your name

~A.K. Rowswell


50/50 (as I saw it.)


I hesitated, staring blankly at the TV screen, wondering…do I really want to watch this movie right now?  I was about to go on the treadmill for what I hoped would be a good 5 mile run, and I really didn’t want to watch a sad movie. Was this movie even sad?  I wasn’t sure, but I clicked “buy now” and started running.

50/50 tells the story of Adam Lerner, an endearing young public radio producer (with a winsome smile.)  At 27 years old, Adam is diagnosed with spinal cancer.  Although the movie covers an obviously serious subject, the comic relief is hilarious, and perfectly timed.  In my opinion, the movie’s main focus is on relationships, and is so well acted that there are times when, through mere facial expressions, you “get it.” You understand what remains unsaid.   This is especially true if you have had personal experience with the familiar battle that cancer has thrown so many of us into.  What I liked most as I watched his story was how my mind became flooded with memories and feelings that I hadn’t thought about or felt in a long time.  The feelings that had softened with the passage of time.  The memories that humble me as I trek my own journey through this life.

My father lost his courageous battle with cancer in October 2010.  I am grateful for many of the moments that my family and friends shared as we traveled that arduous road together.  Using 50/50 as my inspiration,  I would like to share some lessons I learned during the months of his illness.

Lesson #1: Not everyone can  “jump right in”  to a given situation and be fine with it. Patience and understanding are essential so that we may help others adjust to what is happening.  There is a scene in the move in which Adam is talking with his girlfriend Rachel.  She tells him she does not want to go into the hospital because she doesn’t want to mix the “negative” hospital atmosphere with the “positive” atmosphere  present in her life.  “It’s an energy thing.”  she states.  I bet that many moviegoers were upset with her at this moment.  I thought about it for a while after she said it, and concluded that she wasn’t crazy for thinking that way.  I felt the same way during the early days of my father’s illness.  I remember walking into the hospital for one of the first “post diagnosis” doctor visits with my dad.  I was thinking…”Here we go.  My life will be forever altered starting now…no matter how this thing turns out…and guess what, I’m not ready!”  So for everyone who was upset with Rachel in that scene, I understand, but beg to differ.

Lesson #2: Listening is important.  It is never just about “you.”  That “you” includes the patient as well.  Adam’s relationship with his mother is strained.  Communication is difficult, and many things remain unsaid.  I learned that everyone matters and everyone feels… so everyone hurts.  My family and friends needed to talk to each other, and we needed both to listen and be heard.  Yes, love triumphs over all between Adam and his mother, but I won’t give away what happens.

Lesson #3: One good friend is all you really need. (family aside)  Nobody is perfect, but in his or her own way, that friend is walking the road with you as best he can.  You can accept your own fate, but you cannot accept your fate for a friend. That is something a friend needs to do on his own… and man…it’s not easy.

Lesson #4: Out of the bad always comes some good.  During difficult times like Adam’s, we meet new people, who may even become permanent parts of our lives.  The truth is that even if they don’t, and you never see those people again after your experience together…they have left an indelible mark on your heart forever. Believe it.

Lesson #5:  This life does not last forever.  Yes, we stare our mortality right in the face.  I learned that death is not something to be feared.  I am not afraid to die.

These lessons may not ring true for everyone, as I can only speak from personal experience.  The days, weeks, and months spent in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices that accompany the diagnosis of any illness are difficult for everyone affected; the patient, the family, the best friend. The world looks completely different through the eyes of a family battling disease.  Our experiences can teach us during this time if we choose to be open to learning.

Nicely done 50/50…and thanks for the memories.

P.S.  The greatest thing about this post is that I did not know the movie was based on a true story when it wrote it.  That just makes the movie even better.




weekly photo challenge: “peaceful”


This picture is small and a little blurry too, but I posted it because it is my father resting peacefully in my house, hours before he died.  After 70 consecutive days in the hospital, we brought him home for his final days.  He suffered from Mesothelioma, a dreaded form of lung cancer.  He was diagnosed 5 months before he died.  I have never witnessed such courage from anyone; never felt so much hope, yet so much despair at the same time.  He suffered greatly over those months, and even though his voice had been taken away from him, the look in his eyes when he arrived at my home said it all. He was happy to be there.   He had finally found peace.


Come to me in my dreams, and then

By day I shall be well again!

For then the night will more than pay

The hopeless longing of the day.

Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times,

A messenger from radiant climes,

And smile on thy new world, and be

As kind to others as to me!

Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,

Come now, and let me dream it truth;

And part my hair, and kiss my brow,

And say: My love! why sufferest thou?

Come to me in my dreams, and then

By day I shall be well again!

For then the night will more than pay

The hopeless longing of the day.

– Matthew Arnold