An angel among us

So, we all turn another calendar page, and October, my favorite month, is upon us. October conjures up all sorts of fun and meaningful images and activities. Of course, there is Halloween, and Scott and I are toying with the idea of being back to Arizona in time for our annual trip to Bisbee. Seriously, you haven’t properly experienced Halloween until you’ve frolicked in the streets with the Bisbee locals, all clad in original costumes. If we go, it will be our 10th or 11th time, I think. I’ll need to check my photos to be sure, and I’ll share more about Halloween in Bisbee later on.

Meanwhile, my thoughts have turned today to another October happening, that of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There are many ways to support the effort to eradicate breast cancer. Having family members and friends who have battled this disease, I choose to make an annual donation to the American Cancer Society.

Today I want to share with you something I wrote and published several years ago on my previous blog. It’s about my dear friend, Terry, and her contribution to the fight against breast cancer.

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Upon learning I have a blog, many people ask me how I think of things to write about. Trust me, this is not a problem. In fact, I have lists all over – in my office, in my studio, on the back of business cards and even doodles on gum wrappers in my purse. My greater difficulty is in deciding which topic to focus on. Today is a perfect example of this phenomenon. I had my mind all made up to blog about sports. Well, not just any sport, but the coming NBA season.

But I’ve decided sports can wait. Today’s blog entry simply must be about my dear friend, Terry. We spent the better part of the evening together sharing a marvelous, crisp white wine and tasty bits from Trente Cinq 35, a Belgian bistro on 7th Street, in celebration of her 50th birthday (and admittedly because I missed her fab party a few weeks ago). Hours after arriving home, I still can’t stop thinking about our conversation.

Things you must know about Terry: She is more beautiful and self-assured today at 50 than when we met almost 15 years ago. She is good and generous and kind. She is centered and grounded to the point that many people mistakenly characterize her demeanor as “simple.” While I understand that misconception, I couldn’t disagree more, and I envy her clarity and the peace with which she operates in this world.

Terry is femininity personified, so many would be shocked to know she not only survived basic training in the Army but had a wonderful career there before changing paths. She tells fascinating and hilarious stories about that experience. One of those stories is along the lines of “I was able to keep running miles and miles during Basic because I knew I either could do it, or I’d die, or puke.” And then she laughs and you laugh with her, because not for a moment do you believe she couldn’t do it. She is one of life’s riddles – soft and lovable, yet made of steel.

Terry is generous, perhaps even to a fault. She showed me this evening the blood blisters on the balls of her feet, by-products of that generosity, and gained through her recent three-day walk to raise money for breast cancer research. I’m talking 60 miles, folks.

Sixty miles in three days, walking for a cause. Walking with her neighbor, who very recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and just completed chemo. It doesn’t stretch my imagination in the least when Terry tells me they held hands walking across that finish line on Sunday. I know firsthand the power of Terry’s friendship.

Terry has held my hand and cradled my head during the best and worst of times. She has always been the first to celebrate my happiness and the last to go when I am in pain and in need of nurturing. When anything in my world is spinning out of control, Terry has this uncanny sense of calling at the very moment I need a friendly voice on the other end of the phone. Several of us tease her about her psychic ability, and I am convinced her sense about people is far beyond your basic intuition.

So back to this evening and the conversation I won’t soon forget.

It started simply enough … I asked about the status of someone we both know who is struggling with illness. It’s been a long, hard, three-year haul for this woman, and having known her for years, Terry has been with her and her husband on some mighty bumpy roads. Time is at a premium now and Terry is there.

As she shares thoughts and feelings and loving conversations with me, I know her heart is heavy. But in a way that only my dear friend can manage, she is sad yet joyful in the friendship she has known; hurting but strong for those who will need her; grieving but grateful for the time she has had with this wonderful woman. She speaks kindly and softly but with a lilt in her voice, passionate about the exquisite beauty of life, made even more glorious by its fragile nature.

And in her telling her story, I feel my own heart soften. My day’s cares slip away and what seemed so important, so difficult, fades to mere minutia. As tears run down my face, Terry’s eyes are bright with a love and faith so strong that it almost hurts to look at her.

And then she smiles. She holds my hand and hugs me. She shares news about her children and former co-workers. We talk about another good friend and how we must bring her to the bistro, how she’ll love the orange walls and the ambience of tiny tea lights, glowing on each table.

We part in the parking lot, her drive home a lengthy one, mine very short. I hope she’s resting now, that the foot bath she had planned brought her some comfort from the pain of 60-mile blisters. I hope she knows the world is a better place because of her.

 

6 Comments

  1. Tammy
    Oct 2, 2012

    Loved this Janie. October is also my favorite month and I can’t believe that I’ve never been to Bisbee for Halloween. What a beautiful tribute to your friend.

  2. Colleen
    Oct 3, 2012

    As they say on Facebook …”Like!”

  3. Torre
    Oct 3, 2012

    Terry sounds like the kind of friend we all need in our life; what a sweet post

  4. Janie
    Oct 6, 2012

    Tammy – I think you’d definitely enjoy Bisbee, at Halloween or anytime. I’ve been going down there for more than 25 years, and it’s a great weekend escape. Let me know if you decide to go and I’ll be happy to provide info about fun things to do and best places to stay, eat and people-watch.

  5. Terry D
    Oct 10, 2012

    Thanks Janie. Seems like yesterday sometimes. And my friend did it again last year. She is amazing.

  6. Janie
    Oct 10, 2012

    Terry – you’ll ALWAYS be an angel to me. Love you, friend – J.

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