I had planned to get this posted last night (Friday, August 9th), but plans are easily thwarted. Please excuse the tardy time references.
Good morning, Everyone. I’ve got an early cup of coffee, and a sand chair dug into the edge of the shore. The ocean crashes-a constant roar of power and beauty. Little sandpipers follow the outgoing surf, pecking for tossed morsels before the incoming waves could catch them. This is my last day of vacation. So, get your brew, and I will recap the last few weeks.
If we were having coffee together, I would tell you I’ve been at the beach-Davis Park Fire Island. Matt and I rented a cozy cottage for two weeks. In that time, nieces, dear friends, and dear friends of my daughters with small children who have been adopted in my family circle stayed in neighbouring rentals. My three daughters and grandchildren joined the menagerie, too! The weather was glorious. We cluttered the ocean shore with beach chairs, umbrellas, and sand toys. Sandcastles and half-buried daddys bordered our little swatch of real estate. We played in the waves, got tossed in the tumbled surf, ate a lot and laughed more. My mom’s birthday was celebrated with a lobster bash and Everyone surrounding her. This is our yearly event. There are lots of helping hands, side dishes and delicious lobster Matt prepares in a giant pot on a propane burner. Mom looks forward to the party every year. Dad is a bit squeamish about the lobster eating carnage but does not turn down a chunk of lobster claw or tail meat on a fork. We had a great two weeks.
If we were having coffee together, I would let you know that my heart is heavy with the loss of my sister-friend, Colleen. Colleen passed away last week from the menacing metastatic breast cancer (MBC). She lived with this beast for twelve and a half years with such courage and grace. Although there was always a “wrestling match with alligators” (her words), Colleen projected positive energy, hope and love. We met through a mutual friend when we were both diagnosed with breast cancer within a few weeks of each other. I had Stage 1. Colleen skipped all of the stages and went directly to MBC-the one that invades vital organs and systems-the one that kills. When MBC struck my vertebrae, Colleen swooped in and offered a steady hand.
Through the years, Colleen’s voice became the battle cry demanding research. No one dies of cancer to the breast. When breast cancer metastasizes, it wreaks havoc and eventually kills. Incredibly, a paltry percentage of money and resources are earmarked for MBC. Colleen proved to be a fluent and amazing speaker and advocate.
Colleen was a significant force behind me writing my memoir, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. She also inspired my daughter, Robyn, and me to walk the spiritual Camino de Santiago (a trip she so wanted to experience). Although she could not physically join us, she was front and center cheering us on every leg of our journey.
More importantly, Colleen and I shared devotion to our families, and a passion for everything beachy. Every chance we could, we carried a sand chair to the edge of the shore or comodered a direct view seating of the ocean from a deck. I will miss my friend’s smile and energy.
So, today, Friday, is my last day of Beach Two Weeks. Matt and I will take a ferry across the bay to home. Tomorrow, we will travel to Annapolis and celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 60th wedding anniversary. On Sunday, I will fly out of Baltimore to Hilton Head Island to play and be with my grandkids. Their daycare closes for a week. I plan to stay a few extra days so I could share a tissue box with my daughter as we watch my granddaughter, Lily, walk into her first day of Kindergarten.
That’s it. Be well, my friends. Hug everyone you know because every day is a gift.
Have a good week, Everyone. Make it great!
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.