A quick note to my dear baby sister, Lea, who wrote this post and our wonderful readers - This should have been posted yesterday, May 2nd, and was not. You have my humble apologies for dropping the ball on this one. Thank you for your continued love, support and understanding. Best, Laura
Today would have been our father’s 70th birthday. We would have gone all out and had a huge party, full of laughter and love and tons of food. Everyone would share stories and memories and we would have sighed happily and wondered why we didn’t do this more often. Then we would have scattered to the winds again for another few years. We would have done all of these things today, and it would have been magical.
Today, instead, we are each in our separate homes, spread out across several states. We are sending one another text messages and leaving voicemails, saying I love you and I miss you and I am here for you.
For the past two years, we have participated in the Undy 5000 to raise awareness and funding for colon cancer, the terrible disease that claimed our father before his 69th birthday. We begin every season on his birthday with a big announcement of our grand prize and various sponsors, then raffle off thousands of dollars worth of generously donated prizes until the final drawing during the Undy 5000 5k in late October.
Today we should be announcing an entire season of new prizes and ways to win. We should be, but we are not. After a great deal of soul-searching, we have decided to take this year off instead. Our hearts simply are not in it. Today I cannot see how all of this hard work is making a difference in the fight against colon cancer. Did anyone talk to their doctor after reading one of our posts? Have we inspired someone to lose weight, eat better, and drink more water? Did a single person schedule a colonoscopy as a result? Are we any closer to a cure? I simply don’t know. And though our focus was always on honoring our father and channeling our grief, I wonder if this is the right way. What I do know, however, is that Laura and I need a break from this. We need to focus on our families, our educations and careers, and, most importantly, on our hearts. We have some healing to do. We have a great deal of grief to process.
Will we be back? Quite possibly. For now, we need to rethink our approach and reevaluate our goals. We are still dedicated to the cause and the race and to the memory of our father. We are still absolutely passionate about making healthy choices and getting tested to prevent another family for having to go through this. For right now, however, we will demonstrate our focus in another way. We will laugh and cry at the same time while we repeat oft-told tales of that time Daddy shook his little booty as he danced across the parking lot of the miniature golf course, the way Daddy always knew exactly what cards you had in your hand even before a single card had been played, how Daddy was the first man to give me flowers, to take me on a date, to give me jewelry. Today, we will remember the man and all that he taught his children. We are so blessed that he lived to see each of us graduate, participated in every wedding and attended so many births, that he was present for so many special moments and that he watches over us still. I like to think that today he is surrounded by all of those wonderful friends and family members we lost along the way, sitting beside “the old man on the mountain” and smiling down. I know I am imagining myself sitting at his side, refilling his tea glass, laughing at his stories, smiling knowingly as he raises a devilish eyebrow over a sparkling eye. I can almost see the toothpick in the corner of his mouth and the cigarette between his fingers. Today, that is what I need. That is prize enough for now.