Monday, June 30, 2014

Endless Summer



As a child, the word 
summer
was synonymous for me
with reading books.

Lots and lots of books.

Filling my book bag at the 
library with a variety of adventures 
truly made my little spirit soar.

It still does.




I joined a book club ten years
ago, and though our membership
has changed through the years, 
that passion for connecting over 
a good story at our monthly 
meeting ~ usually, lunch ~ 
has not.

A few of our selections have been
made into movies, and we've
enjoyed watching them, together.




Last week The Club went to
see The Fault in Our Stars,
based on the novel we'd read 
and loved last year.

On the drive home, we reflected
on this film and others before it,
which told stories of young people
faced with a terminal illness.

Our younger selves had cried
through Terms of Endearment,
just as our mothers had years
earlier watching Love Story,
imagining ourselves as one
of those young patients.




This time, our emotions aligned
more closely with the parents
of the sick characters as they
witnessed the unimaginable
fight of their children's lives.

Sadly, that indefinable pain has
been the reality for the mother
of a shining light named
Summer White Lynch, who died
last week at the age of 41.


Summer

Summer, wife and mother to two
little boys, valiantly fought breast
cancer twice over several years.

Through it all, Princess Crazy, as
she called herself, was determined
to truly live, squeezing out every
bit of joy each day could hold.

And, she did.


With her mom 

Although I never met Summer
personally, I knew her through my
pseudo little sister, Fiona, who shared
inspiring tales of her friend's bright
personality and life with cancer.

As Summer's journey was nearing its
end, mom and daughter collaborated
on a campaign to spread Summer's
joie de vivre and love of kindness,
through little cards encouraging
Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK),
either in Summer's honor or for
someone else who has had cancer.

Imagine that kind of grace.




Keep Calm and Summer On 
has grown from a spark to a blaze
and sweet stories of goodness 
are reaching Summer's family from
around the globe via Jan's email, 
printed on the back of the cards.

She hopes the cards will continue

an endless chain 

of Summer-inspired kindnesses. 




If you'd like to be part of the 
movement, you can print out your
own cards, here, as I did, and
use them generously : )

While I've loved books since I was 
a tiny girl, no hero or princess or
warrior in fictional tales can come
close to capturing my own heart
and imagination as the genuine
stories of people like Summer. 

I just wish there weren't
so many.



xo
Suzanne

PS:  A huge thank you to those
who supported my efforts in the
American Cancer Society's Relay
for Life.  Your donations and dear
words of encouragement will always
be written in my own story.



Image sources:  

Scene from The Fault in Our Stars - Google
 Pictures of Summer - Via Facebook
All others - my own






Friday, June 13, 2014

Pieces of Me



You could say the idea for
this post was half baked,
because it sprang from a simple
question posed by my daughter:

I wonder how old the oldest
bread dough starter is?




As we considered the idea of
bread dough starters (a piece of
dough reserved from a previous
batch) being given to others
over generations, Elizabeth
observed that this process of
sharing is similar to life.

We give away little pieces of 
ourselves.....and we also receive
little pieces of others, our whole
lives.

That's my girl.




Echoes of this conversation
stayed with me as I went about
my week, reveling in the green,
fresh days of early summer.

On Tuesday as I wrote a sympathy
card, I was giving a little piece of me 
to a dear family who had just lost 
a big piece of themselves.




On Wednesday night as I folded fresh, 
warm laundry and set it gently on my son's
(unmade!) bed, a piece of me was in
that neat pile.

On Thursday morning as I filled out
 a survey for my doctor's office, another
little piece of me was given
gratefully

away.




But I didn't just give pieces of me
away on these June days.  I also 
received them from others.

When the UPS man left packages on 
our doorstep with a big smile on his face,
a piece of him lingered long after
we'd exchanged cheerful waves.




When my husband cleaned my bike and 
pumped its tires with air, he was giving 
me a piece of his caring heart.

And as my sweet little dog nestled into
my lap to watch TV, she was giving me the
thing she gives best--love--and a tiny
piece of her tiny self.




I treasure the fact that we are made
up of our experiences, our memories, 
and the relationships with those 
who have kept us company on life's 
journey--for the distance or maybe
just a lap or two.

Next week I'll travel out of state to
walk in the American Cancer Society's 
Relay for Life,
on a team that was created last year
to honor my dear friend Kathleen, 
who became a breast cancer warrior
in 2010.

My warrior bestie, 2013

Although her lack of stamina didn't allow 
her to match her friends and family step
 for step, she still participated from the
sidelines, cheering everyone on and giving
pieces of herself as she'd done her 
entire life.

None of us dreamed that in a few 
short months, Kathleen would be gone,
and a big piece of our lives would be 
missing forever.




I, like so many of you, carry pieces 
of people in my heart whose stories 
became intertwined with cancer.

Many won the fight.
Many are still in the trenches.

Some have lost.

All will be with me, as I walk.




If you'd like me to wear the name 
of someone special to you who has
also fought cancer, it would be my 
honor and privilege to include
them, too.

Simply leave me a comment with 
their name or send me an email by 
next Friday, June 20th and I will
display it proudly as I walk.




I am grateful that you are woven 
into my own story, whether you've
been reading my thoughts for a while
or if this is the very first time.

Like that starter dough, I'm fed, 
not by flour, sugar and water, but 
by the knowledge that we are all 

connected

 by so much on this earth and in
this life.

Thank you.




I carry your heart with me
(I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it.
~ e.e. cummings 


xo
Suzanne


PS:  I am also supporting the American
Cancer Society with donations on my
personal page, if you'd like to join
my efforts, here.  

PPS:  The Boudin Bakery in
San Francisco has used the same
starter dough for 150+ years!



image of Kathleen by Jill Louise

all other pictures, my own