Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pittsburgh Post Gazette article

Recently the Pittsburgh Post Gazette ran an article updating folks on the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Emerging Artist of the Year award recipients. My husband, pictured above, was the first young artist given this title, and was mentioned in the article. To read it in its entirety, click here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So long, 2009

Just taking a minute to say that I havent much to say right now. I made it through Christmas, somehow, and now Im counting down the hours until I can officially call 2009 HISTORY. Its easily been the most difficult year of my life, and Im looking forward to moving forward.

There are a lot of exciting things in store for 2010, and Im going into the new year ready to work hard and think positive (just a little something new Im going to try, this "positive thinking" thing). I dont usually make resolutions or any of that, but this year it feels really important to see the beginning of a new year as a literal clean slate, a fresh start.

I'll be getting back to news, info, events and all things cancer soon enough, but for now Im going to take a deep breath, and get through these last couple days of a fairly miserable year. There are better days on their way.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me.

Today I turned 34 years old. As a person with an almost-christmas-birthday its always been a sort of big deal to pay special attention to it, to separate it out from other holiday festivities. Growing up, my parents always held big parties for me and made sure the day was special, despite the "merry christmas birthday" cards or two-in-one gifts from aunts and uncles. My husband did this too- he always had a a pile of beautifully wrapped little gifts for me, each one thoughtful and special. The entire day was a celebration, from start to finish.

Going into this birthday without him was a little scary. I didnt know if I would be angry or sad. I didnt know if anyone would remember. I didnt know if I would get through the day easily or be miserable-as it turns out Ive been hovering somewhere in the middle.

When Rick first died I thought the entire world would stop, even if just for a minute. That everything should stand still because this amazing, beautiful, loving person wasnt in the world anymore. How could people not feel his absence? How could they just keep going about their daily activities? On a day like today, Im experiencing a sort of similar feeling- I want to shout at my friends, "How do you not feel this? How do you not sense how empty today feels?". Clearly its not their responsibility, and they certainly didnt forget. I got early morning text messages and beautiful flowers from my sister in law. Still, somehow, it feels...well, like something is missing.

There was no birthday cake today, but if I had a candle (or 34) to blow out, Id wish impossible things- to wake up in a place where Rick was present and healthy, to not celebrate my birthday without him, and for him to have more birthdays of his own to celebrate.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Call for submissions, urgent!

As many of you know, I have been working on a young adult cancer stories booklet and resource guide. I put out the call for your stories- those of you who are young adult cancer patients and survivors, or their friends, families, partners or caregivers. The initial response was wonderful, and a lot of people were willing to participate. With everyone's interest and support, I applied for and received a Seed Award from the Sprout Fund, and my dreams for this booklet were suddenly within my grasp.

Stories trickled in slowly and each one moved me. However, the trickle eventually stopped, and I have been trying to collect the last few straggling submissions. Ive pushed back the release date of the booklet, and have decided March would be the best time anyway, to mark the month of my husband's passing with something more than grief and sadness. Now, as deadlines are approaching and we have less time to get this thing together, I need all of you more than ever! If you are currently working on a submission PLEASE try to get it to me by this friday, December 18th. If you are interested in submitting a story, the same applies!

Grant or no grant, this booklet will not be possible without those of you who have a story to share. Your experiences, challenges and successes can help other young adults embarking on their own cancer journeys, it can ease the feeling of isolation, open up dialogues between young adult cancer patients and the people who love them and raise awareness of young adult cancer in our community. I know that writing about or sharing something so personal is no easy task. Submissions, around 1000 words in length, can be submitted anonymously if preferred. Writers who are ok with attaching their names to their stories can also include a 2 or 3 sentence bio.

Please contact me at BRICKSpgh at gmail dot com for more information, or to submit your story. Thank you to those of you who have submitted already, and I am looking forward to reading new stories!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

O, Christmas Tree

On Sunday night my son and I finally decorated our christmas tree. Another in the list of "first time doing this thing without Rick" things that we've found ourselves having to get through this year. I knew it was going to be difficult. But Im honestly not sure I realized how tough it would actually be.

It took us hours. HOURS. We assembled the artificial tree, and I strung it with lights. Lights that worked prior to putting them on the tree, then, once deliberately and thoughtfully put in their place, didnt work. Well, some of them worked. But approximately one third of them, a random bunch in the middle of one string of lights, did not. Eerie. I'll admit, I "yelled" at Rick for leaving me with the task of doing the lights on the tree, then set about trying to fix them. Before I got the strand completely off the tree it decided to work, so I restrung them and we proceeded with the ornaments.

We got a few on the tree, then I came upon one that belonged to Rick, and burst into tears. Jaden came over and put his arm around me, and we sat on the floor together and cried for a few minutes. I wish I could say this only happened once, but it happened over and over as we decorated the tree. The ornament we bought in 2006, inscribed with Rick's name and the year, that we gave him as a present. He cried when he opened the box and saw the ornament, and when I asked why he was crying he said it was because he knew it meant we were a family. Seeing it this year made me cry. So did the ornament that said, on the bottom "Ricky 1980 Love Mommy & Daddy". And the ornament that Rick & I bought last year at Oglebay, where we spent my birthday. And on and on and on as we put the ornaments on the tree.

What some people may not know about my husband is that he LOVED christmas. He loved the decorations and the presents and pretty much everything about it. We hung his stocking this year, and his ornaments, each one a memory of a time we shared with Rick.

Im not sure how things will go once the holiday is actually here, but know we will be painfully aware of Rick's absence. I do remain grateful for the three wonderful, beautiful and special christmases that we had together.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Its whats missing that makes it awesome.

A bicycle. So what, you might ask. Well, look a little closer at that picture and what you'll find is a clever solution to a serious problem.

Ezra Caldwell is a 35 year old cyclist who was told, after a cancer diagnosis, not to ride his bike because the seat would put pressure on a tumor. Clearly not satisfied with that option, Ezra made his seatless bike. The bike is such an amazing way of managing a challenging situation while finding a way to maintain some normalcy in life while going through cancer treatment.

You can follow his story in his blog, Teaching Cancer to Cry and check out his work at Fast Boy Cycles.

Im hoping to bring Ezra to Pgh this spring to talk about his life and his work, so check back for details as I get that organized. His blog is totally inspiring (and the bikes are BEAUTIFUL), so be sure to check it out!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Come to a show tonight

At the Mr Roboto Project
702 Wood St Wilkinsburg, PA 15221

Birds & Wires
Blood Red

I will be there tabling about BRICKS and generally looking to talk people's ears off about YA cancer. Say hello. Hear amazing bands. Its a win/win situation!