Saturday, January 19, 2013

Go Joyfully, Wherever You Go

Joe, Mia, Aunt Lynn, MSKCC, Jul '12

"In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?"
- Buddha

Super early on a hot, summer day, I loaded Joe's big, black, (bad), Audi A6 with all our gear:  laptops, iPads, a cooler packed with Gatorade, Ensure and  water, Joe's messenger bag, my crossbody one, medications, a brown canvas duffel dog carrier, (a bright orange service dog vest, dog food, collapsible bowls, chew toys, doogie poop bags), and one big-hearted, little French bulldog puppy.

Go with joy wherever you go.

Joe was slightly apprehensive the night before his visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, (MSKCC).  Not because of the upcoming chemo treatment, but because Joe was concerned about bringing Miss Mia into Manhattan to 53rd Street where we would spend a very long day. We had come up with a plan:  Lis was to meet us in the lobby and spend the entire day at MSKCC.  Sarah would come later in the afternoon to sit in the chemo treatment suite and keep us company or run errands.

Ever the businessman that we know Joe to be, Joe wanted to go over the details.  I figured we had a back-up plan:  If worst came to worst, and the pup proved to be too much work, I had Lis and Sarah to help us. Joe agreed, although I think a part of him thought to himself, "This is a little crazy."

Lis, too had expressed her concerns to me on July 15th...

Lis:  "Mom, are you going to call the hospital and ask if we can bring the dog?"
Me:  "No."
Lis:  "Don't you think it would be a good idea to call someone and ask if it's ok?"
Me:  "No."
Lis, in her ever persistent way ..."So, why don't you think it's good idea? Do you know if it's allowed? Don't you think you should call someone and ask? Why not?"
Me:  "I might not like the answer I get."
Lis:  "So, you don't think you should ask before you bring the dog to New York City?"
Me: "Nope.  I'm going to bring the dog everywhere we want and keep doing it until someone tells me, No."

Joe was definitely wondering if this was going to work and on the evening of July 16th...

Joe:  "Mom, I don't know if it's a good idea to bring the dog. I'm afraid it's going to be too much. It might be too hard."
Me:  "No, I think it will be OK.  But, if you think it's better to have someone watch her, I bet we could get Lisa to watch her. I can call if you'd feel better."
Joe:  "No, I think it's too late."
Me:  "No, it's not.  I can call.  They want to help. They tell me, "Anything you need."
Joe:  "But, what if we can't bring the dog in? What are we going to do?"
Me:  "We will figure it out.  That's why I have Lis and Sarah coming.  We will have help."

And, on July 17th, Lis asked Joe...

Lis:  "Joe, what are you going to say if someone asks you about the dog?"
Joe:  "I'm going to say, I have Stage IV cancer and I get a little anxious sometimes.  This dog helps calm my anxiety."

Going home to Stamford later that summer evening, Joe would say to me, "Mom, it was a good thing to bring Mia.  It was the right idea." 

Bringing Mia that summer day really did bring Joe great comfort and joy. Many of us have come to witness Joe's love for his Mia.  

And on another drive home to Connecticut one evening, I would remark to Joe, "We have had some real fun this summer, in between all this serious shit we are going through, haven't we?"

And Joe's smile in reply will light my heart forever.

My friends, go joyfully wherever you go.

Love to all,


Friday, January 18, 2013

A Peaceful Day

"And now these three remain: Faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."
1  Corinthians 13:13

A calm day here at home.  Some favorite photos of mine to share with you.  My niece, Brittany is helping us put together a video with photos of all Joe's friends.  We will post here when it's ready.

Thank you for all the prayers and love for Joe.

Love to all,


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Helping One Another

Joe and Mom at dropzone  Sept '11

"Do, or do not.  There is no try."
- Yoda

On June 1, 2002, Joe and I made tandem jumps over the beautiful rural landscape of Ellington, CT.  A sunset jump into a brilliant, colorful sky with new beginnings for both of us.  Joe would set off for Sacred Heart University a few months later and I would begin training to become a licensed skydiver.  

Ten years later on June 1, 2012, Joe would call me on another sunny summer day to tell me he had incredible abdominal pain. 

With skydiving there is no try.  You either jump out of an airplane or you do not. Skydiving, as crazy of a sport as it may seem,  teaches you one fundamental thing: You are responsible for your own life.  Your own happiness. I am forever grateful to Joe for helping me learn this.

In the photo above, you can see Joe helping me as he fixes the booty of my jumpsuit as part of my gear check in preparation for my jump. As I look around our home, I see all these pictures of Joe with his friends and family. I am struck by how much Joe has helped each of us and loved all of us.

As Joe's illness progressed, we learned to help Joe in new ways. Lots of people continue to help Joe right now with prayers, sending love, and in practical ways, too. 

I like the Yoda quote which begins this entry because I think of Joe. Joe has heart and is a "doer".  You and I know it.  Even at this most challenging time, Joe's spirit and Joe's courage shine, big time.

Yoda, the oldest of the Jedi was one of the most skilled light saber fighters and had a power to be reckoned with...

Love to all,



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Day is Dawning

Joe and Lis Sept '12

Still busy and writing, but Lis asked me to post this beautiful photo!

Writing in the early morn calm.

Peaceful, restful night.

Check back later for blog posting.

Hugs from all of us in Middlebury,


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Advice to My Mother

Joe, Middlebury, CT 8'12

Ten years ago, Joe sent me this email as I packed my gear to head to Skydive Sebastian in Florida to attend a week long training camp sponsored by Skydive University. 

I love him so!  And, I know you do, too...

Subject:  HAVE FUN
02/25/2003 03:53 PM

What's up MOM, sorry i havent been replying to your e-mails. I gotta start checkin it more. Im doing fine, just a little tired from pullin an all nighter for a philosophy test. I just heard this poem in Literature class and liked it a lot and thought you might.

Advice to My Son
-by Peter Meinke

The trick is, to live your days
as if each one may be your last
(For they go fast, and young men lose their lives
in strange and unimaginable ways)
but at the same time, plan long range
(For they go slow: if you survive
the shattered windshield and the bursting shell
you will arrive
at our approximation here below
of heaven or hell).

To be specific, between the peony and the rose
plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;

beauty is nectar
and nectar, in a desert, saves-
but the stomach craves stronger sustenance
than the honied vine.
Therefore, marry a pretty girl
after seeing her mother;
speak truth to one man,
work with another;
and always serve bread with your wine.

But, son,
always serve wine.