Just the other day, I was looking at recent pictures of my family. We have professional pictures done every year – it is a traditional I will never give up. You might say I’m addicted to capturing these memories, these moments in time. It is extraordinary to see how my small people have grown, how they have changed and what has stayed the same.
They are definitely getting older.
But the way they touch each other, the way they care for each other… year after year, it remains the same. Jeff and I will take some credit for instilling in them the desire to protect each other, to look out for each other. But it is definitely to the credit of some very special photographers who can capture that connection in a moment.
As I was flipping through pictures, I realized I was crying.
Not because I have these pictures, or because I miss my children being smaller, but because the photographer who was with us for so long, who used her magic to gift me such treasures, is gone. My good friend Gina Kelly passed away from cancer over a year ago now, and sometimes my heart is suddenly heavy with her loss. I see her reflected in my children’s smiles – she had a special way of getting the very best of them.
We are now so very lucky to have another extraordinary photographer, Joanna Kleine - a friend to BOTH Gina and me – who also does beautiful work carrying on the tradition.
But I’d still like to have a go at cancer, the vicious thief that it is – robbing me, Gina’s family and so many friends of her beautiful heart and so many, many more people of her talents. I’d like to stand nose to nose with cancer and give it a wallop. Right to the gut.
This is the moment when I’m writing that I simply want to say, ‘It just isn’t fair’. But I know life isn’t. Gina was a wife and mother, a sister and friend and I miss her all the time. Most of the time, when I think of her, I smile. I think the hardest moments are those when I forget she is gone.
I imagine you have done that before too? With someone you miss? And the memory sledgehammers you in the gut? I do know I am lucky to have known her. And I’m one of many she touched. And because of her loss, I find myself talking more and more often about the need for research, for funding, and yes, eventually for a cure.
Gina was gone in less than a year from the time she was diagnosed. That simply isn’t enough time.
I believe the research and work that foundations like the Leukemia Lymphoma Society do bring us that much closer. Because of that, I wanted to share with you about one of their largest events – the Light the Night Walk. It happens in nearly 200 communities around the country each Fall. By registering and raising only $100, you would be helping to fund lifesaving research and you would be helping people all over the country who are currently fighting cancer. Every walker who raises $100 or more is given a lighted balloon for the nearly hour-long walk.
LLS’s mission is officially to, “Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.” But what I love is that on a more basic level, their goal is to help people who are fighting for their lives to live better, longer lives. I think that is a beautiful thing.
I hope you will consider participating. For my Gina. For your Gina.
Disclosure: I’m proud to be working with LLS to share information about Light the Night in the hopes that more people (like you) will think about joining in or sharing the Walk with friends.