Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Donna Day ...

Have you met Donna?

This is Donna. And today is Donna Day.

Today, on blogs and on Facebook and on Twitter — #donnaday — and who knows where else on the Internet, we are sharing Donna's story and Donna's sweet, sweet face and doing our small parts to help Donna's Good Things raise money for St. Baldrick's.

Here's a statistic that should shock you:

"All types of childhood cancers combined receive only 4% of U.S. federal funding for cancer research."

Four percent.


Donna was four when she died.

But in those four years, even though she lived with cancer for more than half of her life, "Donna danced on the stage of the Auditorium Theater, consumed a mountain of macaroni and cheese, worried the winter trees were lonely and cold without their leaves and finally enjoyed the big girl swing all by herself. Donna was singular."

Donna was singular indeed.

But she was not alone.

"Worldwide, a child is diagnosed every 3 minutes."

Today, Donna's parents parent her through they good they do in her memory, through Donna's Good Things and, each year, in concert with St. Baldrick's.

To date, Donna's Good Things has raised nearly $200,000 for St. Baldrick's and its ongoing efforts to not only find cures for childhood cancers but also to prevent lifelong damage that results from the cancer treatments that children undergo.

If you've not yet read Donna's Cancer Story, I invite you to read about Donna's life through the exquisite words of Donna's Mama.

And I ask you to contribute what you can to Donna's Good Things for St. Baldrick's.

Or become a shavee, too!

I am profoundly honored to be a part of Donna Day. And you can be a part of Donna Day, too. Share this post, share the St. Baldrick's link, learn more about childhood cancer, use #donnaday, and pledge to do more.

Let's watch more children grow up and lead amazing lives.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Life Lesson No. ... Hell, I've Lost Count, Not That I Was Ever Counting In The First Place ...

Oh, ego, must you be so egotistical?

Last night, I discovered something that was a bit of a slap in the face. It wasn't the first such instance.

But it was the last.

This morning, I started a blog post but none of the starts made sense. So I scrapped the thing and did dishes.

I like doing dishes. It's good therapy. Takes me out of my head for the most part as I transform the pile of dirty dishes into an array of clean dishes, resting on the kitchen towel, drying, waiting to be put away.

But while I was doing the dishes, I asked myself, "How do I want to respond to this?" (I'm pretty sure that was your voice, Michele Woodward.)

My bruised ego wanted to be bitchy and petulant.

But my logical self, my – dare I say "grown-up" – self didn't want to feel that way, didn't want to leave that impression on the moment, because I knew I'd regret it later.

So, by the time I was rinsing the suds out of the sink, I'd arrived at a good place. I'd owned my role in the situation. I shouldn't have let it go on for so long. I should have stood up for myself sooner and either gotten what I needed or cut ties.

Women tend to make a lot of excuses and exceptions. We tend to cut a lot of slack. Some of us cut too much. Some of us take longer to learn certain lessons.

But learn we do. Eventually. I do, anyway. I have.

And so, here I am, on the other side of a life lesson, one I feel like I should have learned before, but maybe I'm more of an optimist than I realize. Or maybe I'm more of an ostrich.

Either one. They both begin with Os.

As does this:


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snow-Inspired Haiku ...

Stabby, stabby, stab
Stabby, stabby, stabby, stab
Fuck you, wintertime

Monday, February 10, 2014

Remembering ...

It appeared in my Facebook feed last night, an image of my friend Jeff's home office.

Seeing it again made me smile. And then well up.

I have fond memories of that office. When I used to visit Jeff and his family in suburban Detroit, Jeff would always be up early. And I would be up early, too, partly because I never sleep well when I'm away from home and partly because I slept on the main floor of the house and once Jeff was in the kitchen putting on coffee, no matter how quiet he tried to be, there was zero chance that I wasn't going to hear.

So I'd get up, too, and the coffee would finish brewing, and Jeff and I would decamp to his office to sip and chat in the early-morning darkness until his wife and daughters crawled out of bed and the house fully came to life.

He would sit at his desk and I would perch behind him, and that's what I was remembering when I saw the picture in my feed. Though as I stared at it, I wondered how the hell I ever found a place to sit. Perhaps the space had gotten even more cluttered since the last time I'd visited, though I'm not sure how that could be possible.

And I wanted to share the photo on Facebook, but it didn't feel like it was mine to share.

This morning, though, I saw it again, the first image in a lovely post by his daughter Alex, "The Extraordinary And Everlasting Love Between One Super Dad And His Daughter." She wrote it to commemorate today, the second anniversary of his death.

Now I feel as though it's OK to share it, now that it's been published for all the world to see:

It's amazing, isn't it?

His office at the Chicago Sun-Times, back in the day, wasn't much neater.

But the spaces suited him, not for their messiness but for their busyness. Jeff, as Alex writes in the piece, was almost always doing several things at once.

And now I'm laughing, remembering one morning when I was there and he offered to make breakfast. He started pulling ingredients out of the fridge, ingredients that really had no business going together, but he had decided to make scrambled eggs. Doctored scrambled eggs.

I am really not a fan of eggs and so I declined when he offered to make some for me. But he was insistent. As my host – and a Jewish one at that – he wanted to ensure that I was fed.

I repeated my dislike of eggs. He wanted to know what I ate for breakfast, prepared, I suppose, to cook that for me instead.

"Honestly?" I said. "I usually have chicken."

At the time, that was true. I've never felt beholden to breakfast foods anyway, but at the time, I was eating a lot of chicken.

He and his wife, Sherry, started riffing on chicken-based breakfast cereals.

"Cluckers!" was Jeff's opening salvo, if memory serves.

"Wing-Os!" Sherry chirped.

Jeff continued with his eggs.

I may not be remembering everything that he put into them that morning, but I distinctly remember celery.

And stuffed olives.

As I was saying, ingredients that have no business in scrambled eggs.

The thing was, he prepared a lot, convinced that I'd have some despite my protestations.

I held firm.

He looked at the pan, dismayed at the amount he'd prepared. "Well, this is just terrible," he said.

He scooped some out of the pan and sat at the table with a plateful of his concoction.

"Sherry," he said, "have some."

She peered at his plate.

"I am not eating that," she said, as he dug in.

She eventually relented and ate some. To be polite, I expect. Sherry is a lovely woman, very mindful of others' feelings.

Later, I retrieved a protein bar out of the car.

Later still, Jeff and I went to his office at the Wall Street Journal for a while.

After, we stopped at a Thai joint for lunch.

I ordered something made with chicken.

And on the way back to their house, he put on a Springsteen track he presumed I hadn't heard before.

He was right.

It was Bruce's arrangement of "Blinded by the Light" from the "Live in Dublin" set.

We drove along, song blaring, basking in Bruce.

It is one of my favorite memories of him. Of us.

My love to his other friends and his family and all who miss him every day.

It's still hard to believe he's gone.