“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?
“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!
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.
It’s Father’s Day! We shall celebrate Father’s Day in a way that honors and thanks him for being so important in our lives. What I know for sure is that your Dad — was and is your biggest fan!
His adoration for you started the moment you were born – and has never seized. There were times during water polo games and swim meets, when he’d cheer, coach and even cry for your success. He knew you were capable of so much more – in fact my Dad believed the same in me, too.
I have realized that you both shared a part of each other and rightfully are truly his daughter. Let me know if I missed anything . . .
Your natural athletic skills, talents and strengths.
Your competitive spirit.
Your relentless work ethic.
You put others before yourself.
Your trip to the Olympic Swimming Time Trials.
Your creativity for Halloween costumes.
Your love and knowledge for all sports including football.
Your dreams for college life in “The Big House.”
Your appetite for Philly Cheesesteaks, pizza, wings and The Sopranos.
Your sense of humor and love for practical jokes.
Your back aches and muscular strains from workouts.
Your chilling out time watching TV or floating in the pool.
Your love for a deep tissue massage.
Your humility to speak from your heart and not about your accomplishments.
And it was your Dad who – sat with you during chemo, carried you when you no longer had the strength, spent endlessly long days and nights with you in the hospital, tirelessly massaged your feet, and deeply cared for you when his own heart was breaking. And then on January 29th, 2005 he too had to face our hardest challenge and “give you back.”
What’s true even now is that your Dad “never let the urgent get in the way of the important” — a beautiful way to live.