Maroon 5

Quote:  Will you marry me?  –anonymous man two rows in front of us    
      Lena and I drove through the downpour to watch Train and Maroon 5
perform at Hershey’s Star Pavillion on Monday the 15th.  Would have made
more sense for us to go to a later concert down at Merriweather, but the
next day was Lena’s last day of working as our au pair before leaving for a job with a new family in San Francisco.
        When Lena arrived a year ago, I’d already moved to the 8th floor of Hopkins. I was in emergency mode: music was of no interest.  Instead, I was reading everything I could about Evelyn’s illness.  After the first month of treatment we were allowed home. I was a whirlwind, trying to make up to everyone the time I’d missed and finally meeting Lena, who’d been living and working at my house while I was at Hopkins.
       But, I already knew what I needed to know about this young woman.  A few days after Evelyn was diagnosed I sent an e-mail to Lena in Germany asking if she would like to go to a different family, one without a special-needs child.  She wrote me within a few hours and told me that 1) she had a twin sister 2) her mother died from leukemia and 3) of course she was coming to help.  She lived up to those words.
      At home we easily worked together and one day Lena said, I have a song by John Legend I want you to listen to.  The next day she had her computer out and pulled me over.  This is Bruno Mars.  He’s singing Grenade. And so she re-introduced me to the power of music, of images that connect below the surface and pull out emotions. Next step? Concert.  Watching a live performance is such a multi-sensory experience: the amplified sound, the crowd’s collective response.
      Lena and I went with 80,000 other people to watch one of my old favorite bands –U2—and one of my new favorite bands –Florence and the Machine, tickets a thoughtful and appreciated birthday gift from Mike. 
      It seemed appropriate then for my final gift to Lena to be tickets to see Train, on their “Save Me San Francisco” tour, and the popular Maroon 5.  It was fun. The performances were energetic, jokes made about the rain, and there was plenty to see between the slide show of where Lena was moving in a few days, the man ahead of us proposing while Pat Monahan sang “Marry Me”, and Adam Levine starting with “Moves Like Jagger” and kicking his leg into the air every other song. 
            This concert was bittersweet.  At some points I was able to give over to the songs, but at others I remembered that Lena was leaving, that Mike’s father had just died, that there was still sadness and confusion in my family.  Part of me was jealous of Lena’s new adventure, leaving the East coast behind, starting fresh, so much to still look forward to while I stayed behind writing out chore sheets and packing school lunches.  But, the greater (and better!) part of me was proud of her spirit, her bravery, and her willingness to take risks.
     So, Lena, thank you your hard work this past year.  Thank you for being independent, for being the best communicator in the house even though English is your second language.  Thank you for asking me how I was doing.  Raise your glass (of water) high in the air.  Prost!

Ziplining at Sandy Springs Adventure Park

Quotes:”Come on, man.  I just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro three weeks ago.”
                  Sue to ticket-taker.
       “You can do it, Sherri. You’re a dancer!” 
                  Lena to Sherri in the middle of a swinging bridge.
       “How are you so freaky-fast with the tweezles?”
                  Sherri to Lena. (Answer: she skipped the middle   connection)
      The best part about going ziplining was that I went with two
adventurous women.  The worst?  I went with two adventurous women.  It took an extraordinary amount of planning to get childcare covered (babysitter), rides home for Chance from Ice Hockey camp and a ride from horseback riding to soccer (Mike came home early), and then a 90-minute-trip, stop for gas, arrival with our pre-registration papers. We got there exactly on time, handed over the tickets, and thunder rumbled.
      Although we were willing, Sandy Springs’ frowned upon anyone
climbing through a three-story obstacle course in the treetops while a storm approached.  As soon as the sky was clear, we grabbed gloves and harnesses. We only had an hour and a half left before the park closed so we chose an intermediate course.  The trails are graded much like skiing — colors indicating difficulty. 
      After we finished, it would have made sense to advance to a higher
intermediate, but it was group consensus that as Lena and I would probably not be back (Susan already has her next date set) we would go for the BLACK DIAMOND.  Just climbing the log ladder to get to the first zipline was strenuous.  I felt like a toddler climbing up a massive staircase where you throw one leg over then heave the rest of the body up to the next stair. There was a long zip ride after, and I did my best Diego impression as I sailed through the forest canopy.
      The trails were hard, but it was a relief to focus on a purely
physical activity.  I was only responsible for myself — although we all
encouraged each other — and it felt good with the breeze blowing and my
only thought how to balance or take the next step.  Although we had half the time of the ticket, there was no one else in the park so we had the five acres to ourselves. Of course we didn’t finish the Black
Diamond course.  Instead, we had to come down an emergency ladder, but
the staff were extremely gracious about it.
      When I came home Mike was packed to leave for Virginia again.  His father had gotten worse and it was time for him to go down.  He left Wednesday morning and his father passed away on Friday.  Mike’s mother called to thank me for being a single mom this past month.  I thought about saying it was nothing — I’d just ziplined around an adventure park for fun — but instead I said thank you because there are all kinds of strength and challenges. Sometimes the physical ones aren’t the hardest.

Purpose

Purpose:  One year ago today my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.
I feel like my joy got lost during that year of living at Johns Hopkins, of learning a vocabulary of five-syllable words, of giving up my job, my interests, my friends, and even, sometimes, the rest of my family.  Who wouldn’t give a year of her life for her child?  But, now I’m trying to, if not reclaim that time, then reclaim a little bit of me.
I wonder if people will think I’m being selfish – thinking of my own trivial pursuits when my father-in-law is dying, when Evelyn is still taking chemo every day, when, for goodness’ sake, America’s debt rating has been demoted to AA-plus. 
My answer to the internal critic, and any others, would be that I will still be running a household with four young children, an exchange student, and a workaholic husband.  The only change is that I will consciously plan one thing for myself each week.  I invite readers to come with me.

Quote:  I think I could kick that bird if it would come closer…(me)

This week I went parasailing with my sister Tammy.  I’m so sad that she is
moving, but she was here when I needed her the most and I thank G-d for
that. She was the first one I called when the tests showed Evelyn had
cancer, when Evie was already on her way to Hopkins, and Tammy has been with
me every step of the way.
She’s busy with moving, I’m busy with four kids in the summer.  Took a lot to find twenty minutes to talk without interruption.  In fact, it took a boat ride out into the Susquehanna, wearing a harness, and then being yanked up into the sky by a large parachute.  Once we were 800 feet in the air it was so quiet, so
peaceful.  Except when I was happily screaming at the people below in their own boats.
 

I love you Tammy.