Today seemed like a fitting day to post a short letter from our good friend, James Brown. No, not the dearly departed Godfather of Soul, but someone who goes way back to my grade school days. He too has had cancer hit close to home when he lost his father three years ago. Jamie has been a very good friend to me, Jen, and the family as we have traveled this rocky road over the last 13+ months...
Stage four metastatic cancer. Shocking words that can leave a person feeling powerless. These were the same words that Chris and Jen heard just over a year ago, but rather than spawning a sense of hopelessness, these words served as the catalyst for a courageous struggle that would change thousands of lives.
Throughout their fight, Chris and Jennifer let the world share their experiences via the blog. Many people marveled at their ability to maintain their optimism and composure in the face of such adversity, but there were also those of us who, while impressed, were not surprised by their actions. Knowing that they had an uphill battle ahead of them, they realized that they needed to maintain focus. So, they looked up that hill they had to climb, looked straight down, and focused on taking each step towards the summit. Along the way, they encountered obstacles that might have blocked their path had they been looking too far ahead of the steps directly in front of them. Sometimes, it got bad enough that Jen counted on Chris to carry her for a few steps in the journey. Other times, they were both carried by the thoughts, prayers, and actions of family, friends, and strangers alike. Although the journey didn't end the way that anyone had hoped, the chronicle of their daily battles made a difference in thousands of lives; and though cancer cut Jen's life short, we can all learn from her example that life is too short to not make a difference. We all have stress, and there are never enough hours in the day, but if we can set aside just a little of our time to help others, we all have the opportunity to make a difference. What might seem like a small gesture to you, could make all the difference in the world to someone who is in need.
In times like these, we all gain a new appreciation for the people in our lives. Family and friends can stress us to the point of breaking, but they can also be a great source of strength when life is at its toughest. Sure, you might argue every now and then, but arguments can be a blessing, because if something is worth arguing about, it's worth fixing. So as you find yourselves thinking about Jen, and sadness fills your heart, just know that you can use those feelings to heal what is broken in your own life and to make a real difference in the lives of others. Each day is a blessing and a new opportunity to do your part to change the world.
On a day like today, Valentine's Day, think about Jamie's kind words. For me, verbalize a few of the little things about your spouse that make your heart flutter. For Jan and Dennis, squeeze your children - big or small - and remind them how much you love them.
Thanks to EVERYONE that made today's event at Eddie Delahunt's cafe a HUGE success. We had a great time at Mairtin's expense and in the process raised over $3000 dollars. In a few days, we'll post Mairtin's before and after pictures. Streaming video of the webcast will soon be available at www.jenniferirelandfoundation.com. Hiding under that mop of hair and beard was a very handsome lad!