Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tree and Me...

For those of you who know me for the past 14 years - you know that I have an amazing group of 30+ women who have been my friends since I found out I was pregnant with Bob. I have only met about 6 or 7 of these friends in real life - but they have been a constant in my life through my journey as a mom...

What did we all have in common? We were all due in January of 2001. Some of the babies joined us as early November - Bob brought up the rear as the last baby in February. We have shared joys, tragedies, loss of parents, loss of pregnancies, end of marriages, new beginning and even the birth of GRANDCHILDREN.

Today we found out we lost one of our own. Tree was an amazing constant in all of our lives...and a personal blessing to me. See Tree lived right outside of Vancouver, only a 45 minutes from where J grew up and my in-laws lived.

Tree and I first met in person in December of 2001, when J's dad was in full swing with his treatment for brain cancer. My new friend came to see us with her beautiful daughter Niamh and her husband at the time Dave. It was Shabbat, and we didn't get any pictures of that first visit - but it was a visit with a friend that felt like we had known each other forever...

Fast forward to September of 2002...

By this time Belle was born and we traveled to Vancouver more often as my FIL was loosing his battle. Tree was my island of peace as I was trying to juggle my two young children while trying to figure out how to support my husband during this time...Once again being with Tree was like being with a friend you have known all your life.

We spent the day together...and we became family....

By our third visit in July of 2003 we were all in...husbands and all! 

And in 2004 Tree's 4 children and our 3 were all part of the posse...

Our last in person visit was August of 2006...which seems crazy to me - as it feels like yesterday.

After J's grandma passed we didn't go out to Vancouver as often. Each time we went out Tree and I talked between visits and during even when we couldn't get together. 2011's trip I was really worried about her...she didn't sound right, didn't ask if we could get together, it left me feeling uneasy. 

But in 2013 she was sounding so much better. So.Much.Better. We couldn't make it out to visit her on that trip and I was relieved to hear her voice and really felt her joining me in our disappointment of not being able to meet up...she messaged me: "We'll get together again :). Am so glad you are having fun!" 

I am so sad to say today we found out that Tree is gone...she had been trying so hard for herself, for her four beautiful children...and she lost her battle. I pray for her beautiful children...and I pray that she is now at peace...and I pray that one day...we'll get together again...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Please help me by being support to my family....that is what I want the most."

For those of you who have been in my life at any point in time over the past 21 years know my Sister from another mother - SAS. 

We met at freshman move in day at AU in 93. We were two first born girls, with relatively young parents (her's even younger than mine), with much younger siblings. We were 18, SAS had a 14 year old sister JSM and an 8 year old sister Nean.... (I had an 8 year old sister Lolo and 7 year old brother Unc at the time). 

SAS and I became instant friends and we each became additional sisters/ daughters to the other family. SAS came with me often to visit in NY and I spent many summers with her at her parents' home on the Cape. 

When we graduated from college SAS and I and W rented a row house together on Capital Hill, SAS was in my wedding party and present at the birth of one and a half of our four children...and is Bob' godmother.

Her younger sister JSM moved here to DC area after she graduated from college, met her husband and settled here. A few years ago SAS moved back to New England, but JSM and her husband stayed here. We got to be not only friends through her sister, but friends ourselves as adults. JSM lovingly called our home the "abyss" ....some might think that is because our house is a mess.... which according to some family members it is...but this was JSM's way of expressing how people can say they are stopping by SCentral for a short time - and end up staying much longer than expected. It makes me smile that she coined that term for us.

In March of 2011 JSM and her husband G had two beautiful baby boys - twins. It was amazing to watch this young woman transform to an amazing wife and mother. While she was pregnant with the boys, she felt a lump. Whatever the reason there were back and forths and suggestion to come back when she was finished nursing. 

August of 2011 - when the boys were less than 5 months old, at the age of 32 JSM was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer that had spread already to her liver and bones.

When JSM messaged me to tell me about her diagnosis she said:  
"Often when someone is sick so many people want to know how the "sick" person is doing and how they can help them. . . well if you are wondering that at anytime. . . now or in the future, please help me by being support to my family (and Hubby) as you and they feel appropriate. That is what I want the most." 
It has been a long 2.5 years for her family. In June of 2013 JSM, G and the twins moved in with her parents. Nean, her husband and their son (weeks apart from the twins) and SAS all live in New England and have created a support system 2nd to none for G, JSM and the boys. 

This week the world lost JSM...but more importantly G lost his partner in life, K and E, at the age of three, lost their mom, T and M lost their daughter, SAS and Nean loss their sister...Grandma and Grandpa S lost their granddaughter...She was such an amazing, gracious, humble fighter....We are devastated for their loss.  

I am trying to figure out how to continue to honor JSM and her wishes...I have not figured that one out yet.

As for SAS - From our 18 year old selves on 5th floor Hughes, to that infamous road trip to and from FL in which I would not fight with her, to RA training, to our summers on the cape trying to dye our brown hair and trips to crazy the MANY nights she stayed up to keep me company while I pulled an all my amazing bachelorette party, to being in the room for 1.5 of my practicing being an "Auntie" on my kids so she could be a perfect one for JSM and Nean's becoming the "fudge lady" our present day 38 year old selves (at least for a few weeks/months when we turn 39) she has always been next to me no matter how many days have passed or miles are in physically between...

SAS is such a support to everyone - and she has been one to me for the past 21 years -SAS does not like sappy, she is stoic, she is patient, she is practical, she is loving, she is kind, she is sarcastic and funny...but after 21 years of sisterhood....I know that SAS is bottling it up inside, while worrying about others. 

I am hoping to be able to do something to support her so she too may grieve in a way that is appropriate for her... If that means multiple pitchers of margaritas and making fun of those we love...and some we love to hate, that is what we will do. After all, I owe it to SAS and I made a promise to JMS...and intend to honor her and that promise.