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Saturday, March 10, 2012

It is what it is

I am lucky enough to wake up this morning looking at a snow covered Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.  It's a beautiful, bright blue sky, clear morning and if I could figure out how to upload a mobile picture onto here, I would share it!  It's calming and peaceful and awe inspiring, and it feels like the right place to be on my brother's birthday.  He loved the mountains and being outside.  He loved to use his camera to capture scenes like this, photos that made you feel like you were there, too.

He was born 35 years ago, and I vividly remember the day my parents brought him home from the hospital.  He did not stand a chance from that day on being the youngest of five and the only boy.  We certainly did not make things easy for him, but I'd like to think we gave him enough love and attention from an early age that he still felt it when he packed up and moved thousands of miles away from us for a much needed respite!

When John needed to get additional treatment following his second surgery, he came to live with us in Massachusetts.  While there is no gratitude for his cancer diagnosis, I will be forever thankful to have had the years that I did to spend with him.  He lived with us for a while, and then on his own, and then came back to live with us with his treatment plan called for more.  Knowing him as an adult (although he was always the baby) was a irreplaceable gift.  We talked all things Red Sox and suffered through the Aaron Boone HR before celebrating the World Series in 2004.  We went grocery shopping and took the kids to play miniature golf.  We celebrated holidays and birthdays, making ugly cakes with sprinkles to hid the flaws.  We sat together through his chemo and radiation treatments and managed doctors appointments, those with good and bad news.  There were a lot of ups and downs, but I appreciate all of the moments.

John is the biggest reason why "Be good. Be strong." is the name of this blog, a mantra I repeat when I run, a tagline,a t-shirt, etc....but most importantly, a way to live life.  Molly used to say "Ya'll be good" or "Ya'll be sweet"when saying goodbye to people or to end emails she had sent.  When John designed t-shirts for the Brain Tumor Society bike ride our family participated in, he put "Be Good.  Be Sweet.  Be Strong." on them in tribute to Molly, he himself adding the Be Strong.  He then started using "Be Good. Be Strong." on his Caringbridge page, taking out the "Be Sweet" because he'd probably had enough "girlie" in his life, and it became his message.  It's become a message we've truly embraced. Live well by showing goodness and kindness and respect to others and to yourselves.  Be strong, not just physically but stand for what you believe and for what is right.  Fight the good fight.  Be good and be strong.

It's been an emotional week for me.  I love and hate days like today, when remembering is bittersweet.  I really felt the sting of Jeff's death, knowing how difficult this week has been and what the coming days hold for his family and friends that knew him best. It's just so difficult to grasp.  I had one of the best runs of my life on Sunday, yet have felt really off since then...more than just fatigue from a long run.  I have felt an overwhelming sense of pride about my high school community who I believe really comes together in support at difficult times.  Which leads me to a feeling of sadness being so far away and disconnected from the very thing that has brings such pride.  A lot of ups and is what it is.  Nothing else.

I am going to go out and do some cross-country skiing, a much safer alternative than downhill for a newbie skier like me who is trying not to blow out a knee five weeks before the marathon.  I am going to embrace breathing in the clean, cold mountain air...thankful for the opportunity, reflective of this day and this week, and grateful for the good people in my life.

Happy birthday, John.
Be good.  Be strong.

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