Saturday, August 24, 2013

17hrs 56 min 26seconds until Race Day!!!!! BRING IT ON BABY!!

I logged on to the Chicago Triathlon website this morning and this is what I saw.  Awesome! And scary!

Having fun.  That's really what its all about.  Its a bit freeing not to have any expectations about a competitive finish.  Though, maybe that will change some day.  But for now its about Patrick.  Its about me.  And its about having fun!

I was in the shower this morning thinking about this blog and feeling so overwhelmed with emotion.  The last several weeks have been crazy.  Life with Patrick has been a blast...a great Tribune article, a documentary being made about him and just some great time between the two of us.  Laughing, smiling, talking.

Work (I'm a hospice nurse on an inpatient hospice unit) has been intense.  Its a job that most of the time I love and some of the time, like most of us, I don't.  Recently we have had several very young patients  That is always difficult and forces reflection.  Then out of no where something happens that makes me love my job again.  I was taking care of a 51 yr old woman who was dying of colon cancer.  This was not a patient who's heart warming story graces the pages of Chicken Soup for the Hospice Soul.  She was not going down easy or happy.  She was a strong Eastern European woman who was losing control and did not know how to cope.  She wasn't warm and fuzzy.  Very few things we offered her were agreeable to her or helped.  A couple nights ago after an exhausting amount of time placing things just exactly right on her bedside table (two of them), repositioning her, listening to her explanation of why she thought she had pain, which including every possibility in the world other than the large tumor pressing on her spine, and praying my last nerve would not fray, I asked her if there was anything else I could do for her.  She looked directly at me and said, "Yes. Can you sit with me for awhile?  It helps."  And I did.  I pulled up a chair, held her hand and talked about sustainable farming, gluten free diets, her two sons, growing up in Poland, unhappy marriages, falling in love again.  And then she fell asleep.  And I thanked God, nor for the first time, that I had a job that allowed me the time to do exactly what i was doing.

Friends, cancer and the universe.  One of the other joys and gifts that has come to me through Patrick is reuniting with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  We went to grade school, high school and college together.  We were roommates in college.  We drifted apart after college, mostly because I was not the friend I wish I had been.  We connected on Facebook and she reached out to me after reading about Patrick.  The day we met again after 30+ years was like time had stood still.  4 hrs later we left Panera and I felt like not a day had gone by without us talking and seeing each other.  6 months after than she told me she had been diagnosed with advance ovarian cancer.  fuck.

Her path to treatment has been a holistic one and has included treatment plans that are new to me.  Sometimes I want to scream, "PLEASE DO IT MY WAY!"  Do what I am familiar with.  Let me do what I know so I can help.  But its not my path, its hers.  But I am on the journey with her and am so grateful and joyful that she is in my life again.  And right now she is doing well.

THEN, as if all these cancer stories were not enough....another friend just sent out an email that she remains cancer free 18 months after being diagnosed with one of the most aggressive types of cancer we know.  And it was advanced.  And today she has clear CT scans, walks 10,000 steps a day and is taking off on a road trip with her best friend!

The moral of the story being you just never know.  None of these stories ended the way I would have predicted.  So look at the people you love.  Kiss them.  Tell them you love them.  Because you just never know.

I know this an odd pre-race reflection.  But its where my weird little head goes.  My friend Sue, (the old grade school, high school, college friend) looked at me the other day and said, "You know, Patrick and I have something in common.  We can't run.  But Mary Jo can run for us."

Yes I can and I will.

I love you all more than you can ever know.


Details about the race:
Sunday, 8/25
I am Bib# 2651, Heat 18
Into the water at 7:30am
If you download the app Lifetime Tri Chicago and enter my name, you can follow me on your phone
After party at Grandpa's at 2pm
In Glenview, on Prairie, across from the Glenview trainstation
I am expecting people to shower me with shots of tequila

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