This post is dedicated to one of the strongest women I know…my neighbor and my friend, Heather.
Why I was happy to cancel a commitment…
Last month I signed up to join a team of my co-workers to participate in the Battle of the Businesses. I was going to compete in an event that requires tremendous skill and athletic ability: the obstacle course! Even though I was confident I’d make a complete fool of myself, I knew it was for a good cause–Special Olympics; an organization that will always be close to my heart.
However, I did something that I rarely do: I backed out. A few days before the event, I found someone else to take my spot and I didn’t go.
Turns out that while I really did want to be a part of Battle of the Businesses and support Special Olympics again, my heart was telling me that there was something else I needed to do instead that day.
The picture of strength…
Let me tell you just a little bit about my friend, Heather. A couple of years ago her family moved in to the house across the street–at least part of her family. That’s because when she moved in to the neighborhood, her husband was actually with the Air Force overseas. What this really means is that while her husband was serving our country, Heather had to find a new family home and move her three sons…all by herself. I honestly can’t even imagine having to do this. (Side note: This family is a perfect example why I have the highest respect for our military and for their families.)
Heather has one of the kindest souls–I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen her without a smile on her face. If I’m outside watching my kids play, Heather will stop by and chat. Not only is she someone who I could talk to for hours, she’s someone who always makes me feel better afterwards. Heather’s a great mom and used to be a pre-school teacher so she’s filled with the best advice and words of wisdom. And as a mom of a rambunctious four year old and curious 18 month old, these are two things that I appreciate.
Last year I started this blog as a way to inspire kindness. But what I didn’t know was that I was actually able to inspire something else as well. Besides being moms, Heather and I share another thing in common: the passion for writing. Heather had thought about starting a blog as well, but was nervous about it. Writing is tough–it makes you vulnerable. So we’d talk about my latest posts and she’d share thoughts about what she’d like to write about some day.
It’s hard to explain the sadness I felt deep in my heart the moment I found out that Heather had cancer. It’s just not fair. Why did someone who is so amazing have to go through something so horrible? She has breast cancer and needs aggressive treatment. She started chemotherapy on Thursday.; she’ll soon lose her hair. And even through all of this, she’s still smiling. In fact, just days before she started treatment, there she was…sitting at our neighborhood pool–telling stories, laughing. That’s Heather.
She’d tell me that my blog was an inspiration to her. Heather–I know you’re reading this…let me just say that YOU are the real inspiration. Your strength, your grace, your unconditional love for your family…I feel incredibly lucky to call myself one of your friends.
So while I was really looking forward to being a part of the Special Olympics Battle of the Businesses, I knew I needed to support my friend Heather–who was getting ready for a real battle. The same day at exactly the same time, my church was hosting a 5K: Cancer Crush to support its “Cancer Hope” activities. Heather also goes to this church. I realized that the money raised would likely go to support Heather–to give her the comfort and peace she needs. And that’s why I decided to change my plans for that day. I knew I needed to run. I knew I needed to support my friend.
And I wasn’t the only one. Here’s the thing about people like Heather…everyone loves her. So it’s really no surprise that a huge group from our neighborhood also wanted to run in the 5K–as a way to honor Heather–to let her know we were thinking about her.
I actually thought about Heather the entire race. Just a couple days before she started chemo, I got an e-mail from her…one that made me so happy. She said that she was ready to let go of her fears…she was ready to write. And then she gave me an incredible gift–the first read of her first blog post, which was absolutely beautiful. As a way to cope and to give others hope, she’s ready to write about her journey…and I know her words will be a true inspiration…they are already are to me. I was honored that she trusted me…and I can’t tell you how excited I am to read more from her.
Heather–while it’s likely you’re the only one who will understand this message, just remember…”We’ve got this!”