As people that have seen me in the last week or so can attest, I am not in a good place. Work has been stressful and I find myself at wits end by closing time. Yesterday was one of those days! I was having a pity party for one and everyone around me knew it. One thing stuck on my calendar, the in memory dinner. I knew that I just had to get through until then and I would be fine. I ended up crying to some sappy song on the car ride there and really was not a great person to be around. And then it happened...
I walked in to Maggianos a few minutes late for the dinner. I was told that my family was unable to attend, but I would be seated with another family whose runner was unable to attend as well as a fellow teammate who was in the same boat as me. The night kicked off with a father speaking who had lost his 3.5 year old a few years ago after she had been a patient partner. I was pretty close to crying at that point. As we sat around our table, the family we were with starting talking about their daughter/granddaughter's fight with cancer. They lost her at 18 months after a short 6 month fight starting at the age of one. The cancer she had has virtually no survivors at that young of an age. To boot, she was a twin and her mom was pregnant at the time of diagnosis. Her little brother was born one month before she passed away. I can't even imagine the difficult time that this amazing lady was going through dealing with this all. 5 years later and she discussed in vivid detail all that she went through during that short drastic time period. I kept it together and didn't cry, but I think that was more because I was in awe of her strength and determination in life.
During dessert, I was looking around the room at all the parents of kids that never got to grow up. All the siblings that never got to fully know their brother or sister. Parents were wearing buttons of their kids, t-shirts of memorial races that have been held, and passing around photos. It was inspiring to see how strong they all were discussing the memory of their child taken too soon. Pictures were being snapped and laughter was being heard. It was all a bit surreal.
Everyone said their goodbyes and see you at the pasta party and I walked into the night towards the common. As I was reflecting on my day, none of the stress from earlier came to mind. Instead, the image of the pebbles and sand came to mind. You see, in college, I had a professor demonstrate the glass jar with pebbles activity. For those that are unfamiliar with it, the exercise is supposed to show you where priorities are in life being family, health, friends, etc. The little things are work and other normal stresses. The families I had met helped to show in my head that my jar right now is a bit distorted. Work, stress on a clean house, chores, and such are taking up too much of the space which is not allowing other areas to be a priority. From today on, I will shift my focus back to where it matters and work towards what is important.
The dinner originally slated to let us meet our families gave me so much more and to that I am thankful for those that let us in on their journey with Dana-Farber.