What a week
Last week was a tough week, and hardly one that I was inspired to write about. When I last got a chance to sit down and bang out an blog post here, I talked about Traci’s grandparents, and how their end was nearing. Last Tuesday, Dan Darling passed away quickly, and peacefully at the West Hills Hospital, just a few days after having been admitted from a fall he’d taken in his home. He was hooked up to a breathing apparatus and being slowly weaned off of it, when his heart suddenly stopped, and it was decided not to revive him. He was an outstanding man, who had an unbridled love for his family, his birds, and of course his wife Barbara. He is survived by his wife, their four children, Seven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. He had a fantastic life, and he’ll be greatly missed.
That was the beginning of the week, and while Dan will be missed, it was time to continue on at our house. Things that are a major stressor at the moment is the sheer volume of work slugging through all of the Girl Scout Cookies has been. It’s that time of year again where all four of our daughters, who are all active Girl Scouts, are selling their cookies in hopes that they will raise enough funds to help them reach their goals to offset the costs of their trips with their troops and other activities. It’s a lot of fun for them, and a lot of work for us as we manage the cookie boothings, the pickup and drop off all the cookies, and their replenishment in a seemingly never ending cycle of cookie mayhem. We manage a small cookie distribution process that has immense popularity, and we do so with some real experience. I believe that this is the 7th year that our kids have sold them, and it’s just as challenging each time. Thankfully, we have only one month of the season left, and it’ll be another year before we see it again.
Moving onto happier and lighter things, this past Saturday and Sunday were also chalked full of activity. On Saturday, our entire family traveled to the Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles for the Annual Awards Banquet for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. For the past 4 years, our family has helped raise funds for LLS under the banner of Team Traci, named after my wife. Anyone who has read of this blog knows of her battle with cancer, and the fact that for 10 years (and this year makes 11), she has been cancer free. This year, she was asked by the LLS to be the key note speaker as the events “Honored Hero” at their annual awards brunch, an even we’ve been asked to attend the last two years.
Traci was admittedly frazzled going into the event, having spent the later hours of the evening putting together her speech. It was interesting to see someone who has told her own story what has to be hundreds of times, struggle so mightily with putting it down onto paper. But she powered through it, and midway through the ceremony, was called upon to speak. She received a strong applause as she took to the stage and began with her story. About midway through, the audience of roughly 150-200 people let out a collective sigh of disbelief that was as moving as I’ve ever heard as Traci announced that she’d received her diagnosis of cancer at the age of 24, with a 3 year old daughter, and new one week old baby. The sound of empathy was felt, and resonated throughout the room. Traci continued to talk about her attitude towards it, and how she never really saw the “amazing” in her individual story of overcoming the disease. She talked about beating the odds that were put in front of her, and her subsequent trials that she’s faced ever since she was told that she was “cancer free,” and how those trials have been ever bit as difficult to press on through as the battle with cancer ever was. And then, she thanked the room for inspiring her. She thanked them for what they were doing, recognizing that her story that lacked amazingness in her eyes, was merely a small part of the amazingness that has been captured as result of the collective efforts of the group. This past year, the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the LLS raised more than $1.5 million collectively through three different Light The Night Walks, which trumps the goal that we had for our small little team. While we exceed our $5,000 goal this year, we know that our part is small in comparison to the great good that is done by the many people who are afflicted with this disease, that have come together to raise money in the hopes of one day discovering a cure.
As Traci finished reading her couple of pages worth of notes, she concluded by again thanking the audience, who immediately began a thunderous ovation that quickly became an entire room standing, and applauding. I couldn’t help but tear up. The moment was beyond amazing. Traci turned to exit the stage and was greeted by the people on it, as they embraced her with hugs of encouragement an appreciation. It’s funny because she said that while she heard all the clapping, she had missed the fact that there was a standing ovation because she was in the midst of the greetings from those that were on stage. The moment easily defines that which I love most about my wife, her humility and how she simply moves through the trials and the tribulations that life has given with a simply desire to be thankful for the gift of life, and seek out as much joy as one can possibly find.
Traci never seems to be able to see the complete picture when it comes to looking at her character and how being who she is inspires others. I remember how even in the very first few encounters that we had with one another how she experienced a lack of awe from her own story. Instead, she simply had an appreciation for life, and how joyous that gift was. She wasn’t looking to be made a celebrity, become popular, or gain financial benefit, or anything worldly. Instead, she was simply overjoyed that her life was made possible, and her thirst to share that continued joy with others was as infectious as was her appreciation for the gift of life that she’d been given. It was unparalleled in any person that I’ve ever met, and that hasn’t wavered even to this day. She loves to be happy, but she loves to bring others happiness all the more. And she does so with her actions as much as her words. When you’re around her, you can’t help but be taken in by it all, and to say that it’s inspiring or “amazing” just simply aren’t descriptive enough words to fully give it the credit that it’s due. Traci brings an attitude with her that simply makes you happy, and makes it so easy to fall in love with her, every single day. It makes me a blessed man to know her, and even more blessed man that she calls me her husband.
I’m going to finish with that story, and perhaps blog again tomorrow about the job changes that took place for me. Either that or on Thursday. It’s a big change, but this has already become much longer than I anticipated, so I’m going to end it now.