The Years Fly By

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IMG_0025Today we celebrated my grandson Patrick’s first birthday. Of course first birthday parties are for family and friends; they’re a big hoopla and for a long time I didn’t understand why so many of us continue this rite of passage. But today it all became clearer.

One of my daughter’s long-standing friends, Stacey, was talking about how fast the year flew by, recalling how lucky a handful of us were to witness Jill giving birth to Patrick at home. My niece Nikki and her family were there. She was a bridesmaid at Jill’s wedding, and it was fun to see her reconnect with Stacey and another friend/bridesmaid, Nora.The opportunity to visit with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, two people I love dearly and simply don’t see enough, meant so much, too. They know Nikki and commented on how her kids are growing so quickly.

From Jill’s wedding through the pregnancy to Patrick’s arrival last February much changed among her friends and family, be it new jobs or new bosses, heartbreaks, more kids and any number of events that occur in such rapid succession when you’re in your 20s and 30s. In the older demographic that my in-laws and I represent, the change isn’t as frequent, but when it occurs it’s significant. We recently moved and that process filled a lot of the last year. They’re busy with a two-year-old and she’s a teacher—two huge challenges, especially if you’re dedicating your life to teaching students in the Chicago Public School system.

Birthday parties for one-year-olds are for friends and family who are busyFullSizeRender in the day-to-day of life but relish the chance to reconnect with those they love. They give us pause, allowing us to acknowledge, appreciate and catch up with the people we care about, to get a glimpse of their expanding worlds.

The year did fly by, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to recap those months. Patrick won’t remember, but everyone else in that room this afternoon will. Now I get it.

What Would You Do Different?

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If you knew you would be okay, what would you do different? It’s a great question, and it was asked last Sunday by one of the nine stars in “My Second Act, Survivor Stories from the Stage” at the Athenaeum Theater. My friend Emily was one of the nine, although I wish she were in the audience sitting next to our friend Lori and me instead having to play this part. The show is produced by the Women Survivor Alliance, a growing organization working to empower, educate and connect women affected by cancer. Their mission: to help survivors find their voice, improve the quality of life and embrace their 2nd Acts. emily

The Emily I know has always embraced life, even after a diagnosis of an impossible-to-prounounce leukemia caused by the treatment needed to beat breast cancer. But last fall she gave us all a huge hug by publishing a book of her poems illustrated by her water colors: Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd.

For as much as I wish I didn’t have a reason to sit in the audience, it was enlightening. And humbling. It gives one pause to sit quietly and listen to nine brave women from every measurable demographic talk about the wisdom gained while beating down that horrible medical monster called cancer. And what a great question from one of her co-stars: If you knew you would be okay, what would you do different? group-on-stage1e Would you be doing what you’re doing now? Are you waiting for some allusive milestone before going after your passion? If by some miracle every roadblock you see in your path were torn down, do you know where you’d be headed? It’s worth thinking about. And if you need further inspiration, keep a copy of Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd by your side.