Saturday, April 9, 2011

Every second counts!

"See you next weekend. I'll be the one wearing the parrot hat and flamingo sunglasses!!!"

"I can't wait. You're a nut. I love you dearly."


I picture these words being shared between pen pals. Would-be lovers, perhaps. They're preparing to meet for the first time, maybe on a boat, maybe a hundred years ago.

But, alas, that's not what they are at all. These words are {giggle} the closing salutation in a facebook conversation I just had with my sweet Aunt Dona. And no, for the record, I am not the one that will be wearing the hat and glasses.


Twenty-five years ago this month, my dear Aunt Marilyn passed away after a brief battle with breast cancer. She left behind a husband and four children, my cousins Michael, Ben, Erick, and Ashlee. Next Saturday, we're coming together as a family to walk together, one unit, over 25 "walkers" strong, at the Susan G Komen Indianapolis Race for the Cure.  

We're walking in memory of Aunt Aunt Marilyn. We're walking in celebration of my sweet Aunt Lorna. We're walking for friends and family members that have had, have, or will have breast cancer. We're walking for a cure. We're racing for it, because we know that every minute, every second, counts!

Today, I want to tell you a little about my Aunt Marilyn. A tiny little bit. Because I was five when she went to be with Jesus, and I don't remember much.

What I remember, vividly, is a day not long before Aunt Marilyn left us. I don't know what she was like growing up. I know from stories that she was gullible, that she was slow to "get" a joke, and that she was tender and sweet, just like my dear little sister-cousin Ashlee. What I know from my one short memory is that she was silly.

I don't remember why we were all at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I guess it was probably a holiday, or a Sunday dinner, or something of the like. And etched forever in my brain is Aunt Marilyn, in all of her glory, ripping her wig off of her head and scaring the tar out of me! I will never, ever, forget the look on her face, the baldness of her head, the laughter that erupted from all of us (including me, once the shock wore off).

And that's it.

I remember her funeral. I remember being confused, because Uncle Dan cried, and I didn't know, in my tiny 5-year-old scope, that adults cried when they were sad.

And that's it.

But as I sit here today, thinking about how the family changed and what became, I can't help but weep for my four cousins who lost their mama. I think especially of Erick and Ashlee, who never knew their mom. They became my siblings as much as my cousins. I think particularly of Ashlee, whose mom wasn't there when she walked down the aisle...bounced down the aisle...into the waiting arms of her new husband. Ashlee whose mom wasn't there when her baby boy was born almost a year ago. Ashlee whose mom won't be there this fall when her next baby comes. Ashlee. I love you, Ashlee, and I grieve along with you, this month and always.

We miss you, Aunt Marilyn. We'll see you again. (Keep taking care of my babies. I know you are. I've seen it in my dreams.)


We're walking for life. LIFE! So that someday, there won't be stories like the one our family shares. So that some day there won't be any more Ashlees, there won't be any more little girls who long for their mommies. We're walking for every one who has gone before and every one who is yet to come.

Please, please, consider making a donation to this year's race. If you know someone racing, contribute to their team. They have a story. They're there because of someone. If you don't personally know someone racing, please consider supporting my family. We're racing for a cure. We're racing for life!


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