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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Andrea

Today March 29th, was Andrea's 46th birthday. It was as hard of a day as I thought it would be. It was the loneliest day of my life.

I started off by running in the Koman Race for the cure then stopped by the cemetery to sit with Andrea and ended the day at Anthony's track meet.

This is my first race shirt and number. I wore Andrea's "Life is Good" hat in honor of her. The hat was stained from her brow. It was sokaed from my sweat when I finished. She wore this hat all the time. It made me feel closer to her.

All day I found myself incredibly lonely in a sea of people. There were 28000 runners/walkers in the race and I was totally alone. Have you ever heard the old Temptations song, "I wish it would rain?" That is how I felt. The song is about a man who wants it to rain so when he goes outside no one will know he is crying. I found myself waiting for the race to start unable to look at anyone. I signed in and pinned on my official number for the first race of my life. I could not help but think how I had changed since Andrea died. I was never a runner, yet there I was approaching the starting line, in a way so out of place, wishing Andrea could see me, hoping in some way she could. Was proud of me? Thankful to Gina for planting in me the idea of running after Andrea died.

I chatted with Ginger today and this is what I told her was hard about today.

All the survivors being announced, seeing them in pink tee shirts, wishing Andrea was there. The loud speaker calling out for survivors, 1 year, 5 year, 10 year...each call like a punch in my stomach, each call bringing tears to my eyes. I'm happy there are survivors and I don't mean to wish anyone would die from this disease but today I was not in the mood to hear how happy they were for "winning" the lottery.

Running when it hurt, making it hurt by running as fast as I could. With every step I thought of all the pain Andrea had to go through.
Being so alone in such a crowd of people.
No one knowing who Andrea was only seemed heightened my sense of loneliest. Her story lost in this sea of people who were affected by breast cancer.
Crying in public, because I could not find a place to be alone.
Wanting to leave but needing to stay.
Listening to Andrea singing in my i pod as I ran.
Hating cancer.
The insanity of buying flowers for her grave on her birthday.
Realizing it is my job to keep her grave pretty. I want people to see Andrea's grave and think "She must have been a special person."
Finding it a strange job but somewhat soothing to sit and pick up leafs and rocks off Andrea's grave. Thinking my cleaning habit makes me do weird things.

All that was sad

By the time the race began I was emotionally exhausted, but thankful it was time to start the run. My goal was a 30 minute time and I made it in 24:55.

I finished the race and headed for my car to get flowers for Andrea's grave. When I was at the store I saw the blood mobile and decided to donate in honor of Andrea and the two transfusions she had. After a visit with Andrea and placing the flowers on her grave I left to go to Anthony's track meet. There again I found myself alone in a crowd. Watching Anthony, remembering when Andrea last sat in the bleachers for Anthony's football game. Remembering how weak she was, barely able to walk to the seats, having to still carry that oxygen bottle. Thinking how proud she would have been to see Anthony run. Watching Anthony win and cheering for him alone. Doing everything alone. Crying again in public. Having to wear sunglasses on a cloudy day hoping others did not notice.

Anthony getting ready for the 4x400 relay. They won first, and Anthony got a medal in all three events he entered. One gold, one silver, one bronze.

Today was just a lonely day in every way.

Fittingly I end the night alone. I let Anthony go to a hockey game with a friend. I figured he should be allowed to escape the empty house. Dinner was take out, ate while watching a movie in our chair and a half. The TV my only relief from the silence of the house.

Part of what made this week hard was that Ginger is away visiting Israel and we have not talked other then "chatting" on line a couple of times. But I think this was God's plan. I think I needed this time alone. In part to help me with my grief, but also I think to understand a little more what Ginger had to go through over the last 14 months. I know my week is a drop in the bucket to what she endured for months, but I feel I understand just a little bit more Ginger and the depth of pain she endured as she waited for God to bring us together. It made me hurt for her knowing how awful her life must have been. Thankful to all those who supported her and the kids. Actually they did more then support her they literally carried her. I will always be indebted to them.

So I end the day with a terrible headache and incredibility tired so I will call it a night. But as I do I have to express how thankful I am that Andrea was and Ginger is in my life. God has truly showered blessings upon me by giving me two such wonderful women, both love me in ways that at times overwhelms me. Yes it was a sad and lonely day, but the sun will come up tomorrow and life will continue to slowly regain normalcy.
This is what Ginger said after I told her what made my day so hard.

" I know you are thinking of Andrea at every turn. I hate for you to hurt. But I can tell you that walking through really hard "anniversaries" is just something you can't go around, you must go through. I prayed you would find comfort and strength and healing today."

Ginger's words offer me hope and comfort because they come from someone who has walked where I am walking. But more importantly because they come from someone who loves me. She is my gift from a loving God. Ginger is an answer to a prayer I had not yet prayed, a need I had not yet expressed. Ginger exceeds every prayer I could have prayed, every need I could have expressed. In a way I think God planned it that way to remind me that He truly does bless us beyond what we could ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)


  1. Our Father is so awesome and no matter how we feel, He sustains us through our trials. I wonder sometimes why we have to go through the long valley times in our lives, then I remember we were created to live in the valley, to endure and grow in His wisdom and strength. Praise God for his provision for you Jim and may you always give King Jesus the glory due His name.

    Thank you for being an example to me.

    TS (XO)

  2. Jim, thank you for sharing. I know yesterday was hard. I can't imagine those feelings fully, her birthday, the race, all of it together. Each year when I run the Komen it's amazing to see all the survivors and I deeply miss my aunt who finally succumed to cancer 3 years ago. But each year we do it for her, she'd want us to. I am sure Andrea is proud of you and what you accomplished yesterday. We are praying for you each day that you are able to find that healing that only God and time can bring. And of course Ginger - ; )
    Thank you. Aimee