grief


Most days I remember how blessed my life is. I breathe deeply and live fully in the moment. I’m not afraid to open my arms and my heart completely. I’d rather be open and get hurt occasionally than forget to live.

As I reach out to my dear friend John, who is courageously savoring each moment…I’m totally humbled by his grace under fire. I can only pray that I will be so noble if life ever deals such a wicked challenge to me.

The fragility of life couldn’t be more apparent to me today.

Note: If you read John’s blog, be aware that the leukemia has resurfaced in his brain and it is affecting his spelling and typing…

“I know there are lots of errors in this text. Some of them are ordinary, everyday mistakes that I would have made anytime and corrected without a second thought. Some are not. I’ve decided to let them stand, because I want to document what’s happening; maybe there are data here that will help the doctors figure out what’s going on and how to treat it. Maybe not. I find it very painful to let the mistakes be.” – John Slatin’s Leukemia Letters

Many of you have been touched by the wonderful work of Dr. John Slatin, accessibility expert extraordinaire. He has been my mentor and dear friend since I first met him in 2000. My passion for accessibility was inspired by him and his incredible attitude. And I’ll admit, that last year when he was diagnosed with Leukemia right after being named co-chair of the WCAG 2.0 Working Group, I was reminded how outrageously unfair life can be. But once again, John showed me how he doesn’t let a little inconvenience like Leukemia stop him from making the world a better place. A month ago, I was sitting at lunch with John and Jim Thatcher and rejoicing in his remission.

Last week we learned that John Slatin’s Leukemia has returned. John and his wife Anna have gone to MD Anderson in Houston for his chemotherapy. Gordon Montgomery has set up a yahoo support group for John and Anna. There is a very powerful post from John written on 5/14 (I rate it at least a two Kleenex post).

Sharron Rush had a marvelous idea for one way folks might be able to show their support…so…I share this idea with you…

A convenience has been set up for John and Anna while John is in chemotherapy at MD Anderson in Houston. The Central Market there will be happy to facilitate contributions to what they call the John Slatin Family Fund. John and Anna were tremendously moved by the support they received the first time John was hospitalized. And they are serious foodies, as we all know. But if you will not be close enough to bring your best homemade goodies on a regular basis, and are looking for another way to help John maintain his record of the longest hospital stay without eating hospital food, this may be it :)

Here’s how it works:

  1. Call the catering department of Central Market Houston 713-386-1750- Tell them you are contributing to the John Slatin Family Fund
  2. They will take credit cards or check-by-phone
  3. They will send a card with your name (no dollar amounts)
  4. John and Anna can have food delivered to the hospital, pick food up or go shopping at the store for basics.

I know many of you may have other ways you are supporting John and Anna through this time, so please don’t feel any obligation. This is offered as a possibility for a gift that will help with the practical food basics.

I’ll be headed down to Houston next week with Sharron to give John and Anna a big hug.

I’m a tender hearted girl, despite my bravado. And lately, I’ve been letting the world stomp on my heart. When the shattered pieces won’t hold together, I have a number of books on my nightstand to help me heal. One of my favorites is “The Cup of Our Life“. I opened to the chapter on the broken cup last night and resonated with these words:

too pained
too discouraged
too brokenhearted
too burned out
too disenchanted

I kept reading. And found it exceeding difficult to say the breathprayer:

Breathing in: Strengthen me…
Breathing out: …encourage me

But I know not to run from grief. I know there are lessons there. And I’ve experienced the surprising resilience of my hope in situations much bleaker than this. For truly, what could be worse than the loss of a child?

As I sat at the low point…I could see the light of hope…and felt another book calling, another comforter, Simple Abundance. I turned to February 6th and received exactly what my heart needed to hear.

“You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself…”

“Today, deliberately turn away from the world….”

“Wean yourself away from the opinions of others – however talented, creative and celebrated they may be – as you journey within. Absorb the shock of becoming aware that many of your preferences and opinions are not truly your own. Begin instead to listen to the whisper of your authentic self telling you which way to go….

Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced will you be able to hear…”

Listen carefully.

Spirit’s playing your song.”

So, I’ll keep dreaming and moving toward my goals. I see which way my compass is pointing. Thank god for my loving husband, children and friends who dry my tears, hold me and love me just the way I am. And perhaps as I walk around this stumbling point, which seems like such an unecessary detour, I’ll discover something that I would have missed. (deep breath) Be present. Be here. Be me.

My dear friend Lindsey’s great grandmother, Anne Browning, passed away last night. Even though I’ve never met Anne, I can see her spirit in Lindsey. As I read the post about Anne’s passing, I was reminded of a message that comforted me when I lost a dear friend to Leukemia. As my heart was breaking and my tears were flowing, this song came to my rescue. A song that helps me deal with death by giving me the hope of heavenly eternity:

I Will Get There – Boyz II Men

I’ve been in these chains for so long
I’ll break free and I’ll be there where I belong
Hold my head up high, I’ll stand tall
And I swear this time I won’t fall
I will do this
No matter what it takes
‘Cause I know no limitations
And I’ll reach my destination, I will get there

I will get there
I will get there somehow
Cross that river
Nothing’s stoppin’ me now
I will get through the night
And make it through to the other side

And as far as I’m concerned, Lindsey, you are an angel right here on earth.}}

Last night I arrived home to the usual chaos and mayhem. A single sheet of paper quietly sat on my counter. My eyes skimmed the paper and caught on these words:

U.S. Department of Defense
News Release

DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two airmen who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Killed were:

Tech. Sgt. Jason L. Norton, 32 of Miami, Okla.

Staff Sgt. Brian McElroy, 28 of San Antonio, Texas.

Time stopped.

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