Sunday, May 01, 2005


Last night we were invited to a Make A Wish Foundation dinner and auction. The event’s purpose was to raise money for the organization which gives wishes – gifts – to children with cancer.

We were told there was a “Team/Sports” theme to the night, but I was still unsure of how to dress. Chris work a sport coat and dress pants and looked great. I put on a long black skirt and a bright silk shirt and felt awkward. I don’t know why, but I can never figure out how to dress a little more than casual if it is a non-professional event. Anyway, we arrived to find 90% of the crowd in sports attire. College sweatshirts, Utah Jazz jerseys, softball shirts – true sports attire. We walked around for about an hour looking at all the silent auction items and Chris caught the spirit. “You should bid on that all-day spa treatment!” “Carol, look! Three sessions with a personal trainer.” “Symphony tickets!” It was great to see the enthusiasm in his face. Every time I balked at the expense, he would tell me that it was for a good cause, or that it was important for us to give to a charity. He was absolutely right. We’ve been so caught up in our life (having babies, remodeling a house, Chris finishing school, two full time jobs, moving to Utah, etc.) that we haven’t thought about giving or service since we’ve been married.

The group we sat with for dinner was really engaging and interesting. Conversation flowed easily and everyone seemed really sincere. The food was great even though I had to restrain myself. Chris, my partner in crime in this Weight Watchers adventure, ate freely and keeps a better perspective about it than I do. “You can’t stop eating, Carol. Just eat it and start again tomorrow.” I don’t think he’s in as big of a hurry as I am, though.

During dinner there were a few speakers. A teenage boy spoke and brought both Chris and I to tears. He had a rare form of cancer a couple of years ago that ravaged his immune system. He couldn’t see his friends, let alone go outside for fear of infection. Music was always his escape and his consoler. His wish was for a keyboard which the Make A Wish organization gave him. He is now in remission and after he spoke about how much this gift meant to him, he sang and played a song that he had written about his illness. This is when the tears came. I cried for my mom and for my kids.

I’m not always as understanding as I should be. I called my mom the other day because she hadn’t written in awhile. I babbled on about whatever I felt was important for her to hear at that moment. She didn’t say much so I asked her how she was doing. “Well, you know I’ve been sick since Saturday (this was Tuesday).” “No, I had no idea.” “Didn’t your father call you?” “No, Mom, don’t get mad, just tell me what’s going on.” “I’ve had acid reflex again. We are probably going to delay leaving Florida until I feel better.” (About a month or so ago, she started having severe chest pains and even called the ambulance one time. Doctors tested and found only signs of acid reflux. We assume this is a chemo side effect.) “I’m sorry.” Silence. So I started rambling again. “I’d like to come and visit with frequent flier miles before you go. It would be fun to bring one of the kids.” “NO,” was the answer I got. Irritated, I shot back, “How are you going to get to know them better if you never see them?” “We’ll see them when we come this summer.” “That’s too long, Mom.” “Carol, I can handle you coming to visit, but that’s it. I’m too sick.” I dropped the subject, but was still angry. Didn’t she want to see her grandchildren?

Last night, listening to the young speaker, I remembered my conversation with my mom. I was intolerant of her attitude at that moment. I know that it is hard to think that you can feel healthy when you are feeling negative symptoms. I shouldn’t have pushed her. I was selfish. This young kid spoke of how hard it was to feel sick for a long time. I’m not sure how long he was afflicted, but I doubt it was as long as my mom. This is her second battle. The first one was years ago and she had a lumpectomy, radiation and the whole episode was “over” in about 2 months. This time she has been sick for six and a half YEARS. My bouts with fatigue the last few weeks have been pretty annoying. I can’t even imagine what my mom must go through.

I cried for my kids because all of the children that are connected with Make A Wish are a part of someone’s family. Parents out there who raised these little ones from tiny, blanket swaddled bundles and then suddenly, at some point, had to face the word “cancer” in connection with their most precious asset. I thought about doctors and hospitals and children. I thought about my children and how we would handle things if one of ours was diagnosed with cancer. It runs deep in both Chris’ family and mine. I know I would feel angry and desperate.

I turned to Chris and noticed tears in his eyes last night. “Who are you crying for?” “Him,” he said pointing to the singer. Of course. It’s not always about me.

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