“As long as man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
For those of us who deeply knew Jodi, this quote captures the essence of her competitive mindset. It didn’t matter if the competition fiercely held her underwater, swam to out-touch her finish, excelled her in academics or metastasized cancerous cells in her spine — she never allowed doubts, fears, or “what ifs” get in her own way.
What’s getting in your way? Do you see circumstances or the abundance of possibilities? I’d love to know . . . please share your comments.
* Writing this post during the excitement of a new school year — today, Jodi’s Dad assumes a new position, head football coach of The Perkiomen School and the start of pre-season camp. Without a doubt, she would be most proud to share her father (her biggest fan) with a team focusing on possibilities.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” — Unknown
Do you agree? I believe we all have the capacity and desires to live our lives by the moments that take our breath away. These exhilarating moments can be — giving birth to your child, experiencing God’s majestic works, climbing mountainous summits, gazing on spectacular sunsets, surfing ocean waves, or reaching a personal goal of great significance.
Here’s what I’ve discovered through writing Letters to Jodi — my heart and soul are being expansively filled with the love of Jodi. It’s a love that we as mother and daughter continue to share even now within these moments. This love comes from readers who are commenting about the profound impact Jodi has had on their lives. It’s in the moments of reading, talking or listening to them that I know for sure our lives are not measured by the number of years, stuff, achievements, etc. but rather by the moments that simply take our breath away.
Isn’t it time we all start living more by these breathless moments? I have a feeling Jodi would want us all to — what do you think?
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 . . .
“The real journey of discovery is not seeking new landscape but seeing it with new eyes.” — Thoreau
I’m on my real journey of discovery — what about you? In the early weeks of diagnosis, Jodi was not afraid of cancer. In fact, she wanted to inspire and help others see beyond their own challenges and sufferings. She was determined to put aside the awful “chemo side effects” — loss of hair, weight gain, nausea, the summer job, college plans and see it with new eyes. And to those who knew her — know that’s exactly what she intended to do with the deck of cards life dealt her. Where are your eyes seeking?
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.
“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you deal with it is what makes the difference.” — Virginia Satir
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!