Category Archives: Letters to Jodi
Early this morning, I wished your father a “happy birthday.” He quickly reminded me, “every day is your birthday, so celebrate every day.”
Six years ago, we were practicing our new mantra of “celebration.” Remember our family celebrating “Dad’s Birthday” at Chat-a-While? You were encouraging your father to “begin new” adventures in life — like his gift of cooking classes at the restaurant school. While you were preparing for new beginnings — college life at Michigan and being cancer-free.
With a renewed spirit, you wanted him to be happy — again.
It’s been six birthdays without you — but tonight, we’ll celebrate at a casual restaurant to toast Dad’s 54th year and savour the sweets from his favorite banana birthday cake. Just like we did August 4th, 2004.
Oh, those “new beginnings” — your passing has led him to pursue his love for coaching football. And in three weeks, he’ll be back onto the field with a new team to coach, train and mentor. I think you’d be his biggest fan . . .
In a slight delicate rush, I broke open my fortune cookie in amazement to receive this message. “The time has come to allow your heart to guide you.”
Immediately, my heart brought me back to you. I had spoken that day with a friend, who had also lost her daughter to cancer. We chatted about how different our lives are without our daughters. MJ referenced how much “her” Katie guides her to find meaning. And with Katie’s inspiration, she now helps mothers embrace when every day matters.
We spoke about “why” we believe every day matters. And how we choose to allow ourselves to move forward even after our greatest losses. For some, the steps maybe too difficult or they simply choose to believe they can not.
But I said, “why Jodi would be very angry with us if we did not allow ourselves to see the possibilities in what we can do.”
And in that next moment, MJ is telling me to speak and share our story — The Journey of Life, Love and Loss. Before I could utter my response, she asked me “what would Jodi want you to do now?”
Very briefly, I thought and said, “she’d want me to share the message and allow my heart to guide me.”
And with that, I can and the message will inspire others.
Just the other day, I had chatted on the phone with Jodi’s friend, Emily. It was a wonderful and lively conversation that reunited our connection — in some ways more like girlfriends.
I was struck by the essence of time as it had been seven years since Jodi’s diagnosis. It was during our phone call that we both felt the paradox of time — you know what I mean.
“When I think about these past seven years,” said Emily — “there’s been so many changes like college, moving to NYC, three years of a career, friends, relationship commitments, travel and more.” “And yet Jodi had only 18 months . . . and so much had happened in so very little time.”
Later that night, I thought about Emily’s insight and perspective on time. Seven years ago, I had done some research on Lance Armstrong. I remember he wrote that cancer was the best experience in his life. He had found a new perspective on life, new relationships with family and friends and developed a foundation of cancer survivors.
I had asked in the past and even now, is this life experience pointing us to commit our life’s purpose for a greater good? What are your thoughts?
I never thought how hard it would be to write to you today – my birthday.
My thoughts take me back to my birthday – 2004. Here we are celebrating – so much more than your mother aging another year. It was an evening of celebrations – you had traveled that week to Michigan for orientation, the scans showed no signs of cancer, we were all rejuvenated from our month at the shore and life was wonderful again. You even designed a personal card – just for me . . .
July 16, 2004
Happy Birthday! I know that you are approaching that time in your life where you no longer wish to celebrate your birth. However, I believe we should not just celebrate our birth, but each and every day. We should celebrate each new and wonderful day that is given to us.
I hope you continue to live each day to the fullest. I am so very thankful to have you in my life. Your unconditional love and support
has made you more than my mother, but my best friend. I wish you all
the best today, tomorrow, and forever. I love you!
In my fifty-second year, I intend to embrace your words and truly celebrate each and every day . . . thank you for your present!
I spent the afternoon with Deric’s family – his wife Kinsey and beautiful daughter Kya. It felt like yesterday, when 15 years ago, I decided to hire a college student for the summer to work in the business.
Our relationship had nothing to do with “summer” employment – it was more about sharing our lives with Deric – who quickly became part of our family. And now, our love has expanded to include his family – and they too share a similar journey of life, love and loss.
Although Kya is only ten months old, she will never meet her Aunt Katie. In the same way that Lauren has never met you – her cousin. Kya will only know her mother’s younger sister through heartfelt spoken words, photographs or snuggled in that t-shirt quilt — all to keep her spirit like yours vibrantly alive for all to know.
“We all have a fear of the unknown what one does with that fear will make all the difference in the world.”
I started thinking of today’s date — 07/07 and its significant meaning. It was seven years ago today, when you met Dr. Lackman. We all thought the pain in your shoulder and back was caused from an athletic injury — but then these words were spoken, “it could be an osteosarcoma aka bone cancer.” And you then, passed out.
I don’t think on that day or days to follow we ever asked “why.” Instead we prayed for a miracle and began to face our deepest fears – the unknown. On July 7th, 2003 – our lives were about to be changed forever.
I believe life presents us with choices including our fears. But it’s how we choose to respond that makes all the difference. I only wished you had many more choices.