Category: losing a parent


Why I’m Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

October 19th, 2013 — 1:28pm

Tomorrow marks the 16th year I’ve done the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in NYC’s Central Park. As longtime readers of this blog know, I walk in memory of my beloved mom who lost her battle at age 57.

Mom and me (July 1995)

Mom and me (July 1995)

I’ve recently been reminded just how many lives this disease continues to affect – and how important it is to continue the fight.

Yesterday, when I mentioned the walk on Twitter, two new friends shared they both lost their moms to breast cancer as well (one, when her mom was just 50). Through work, I recently connected with a brave woman who has been diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer.

“I am living with the knowledge that I am dying,” she told me, “And that treatments will give me more time but not the long life I had hoped for to live with my husband and ten-year-old son.”

30% of breast cancer patients who metastasize, like my mom, face death. That’s why we hear so much about the important of early detection, breast self-exams and mammograms. I am happy to share that this week, I went for my annual mammogram.

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. A few weeks ago, PR industry colleague and acquaintance Emily Easter died at age 35, after having been diagnosed at 31. Emily was a vibrant, beloved person and I will be thinking of her as well when I make strides tomorrow.

Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, I’m at 88% of my $1,500 fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society. Hope you’ll click here and support me in the fight to put breast cancer where it belongs – in the past, as something that can no longer take away the people we love.

Comment » | American Cancer Society, losing a parent, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Finding Comfort From A Dear Friend

September 26th, 2011 — 9:22pm

Last night, I had the pleasure of catching up with my dear friend Gwen. Newly returned from a rejuvenating three-month stint in Bali, Gwen had plenty to share about her travels – and plenty of food for thought to give me.

Over a delicious sushi dinner at Kiku Restaurant in Midtown, as she spoke about the peace she’s found on the other side of the world, I was struck by the soothing impact of time and a change of scenery. Gwen lost her beloved dog Mimi in June, and was understandably in deep mourning before she went away. Though she still misses Mimi, Gwen has found solace in her writing and in believing Mimi’s spirit lives on.

Her renewed spirit got me to thinking about the ongoing journey that is grief. It’s been 13 years since I lost my mother and about 5 since my father passed away. Sometimes, the pain makes it seem like the other way around – like Mom’s death was more recent, because hers still feels especially cruel (she died a week before she would have turned 58). And I miss her and Dad every day.

The comforting thing is, though time hasn’t lessened how acutely I feel their absence, it has helped me navigate my grief so that it doesn’t consume me. And I’m grateful for dear friends who with their strength in the face of mourning help to restore my own.

2 comments » | losing a parent

Thinking Of Mom

September 10th, 2010 — 12:53pm

Today marks the twelfth anniversary of my mom’s passing. As I remember her — who she was and everything she taught me — I find myself also thinking about how far I’ve come in my journey through life without her.

Unlike other losses, breakups for example, grief has no beginning, middle or end. It just becomes a part of your existence, a wound that becomes more manageable over time but never goes away. I still think about my life in two parts, before and since losing Mom. And I feel my heart break all over again when I think about having to live the rest of my life without her.

The difference now, though, is I know I will be okay. I also know how to remember Mom without going to pieces because, well, I’ve had a lot of practice. For the first time, this sad occasion isn’t overtaking my ability to appreciate and enjoy where I am.

A Very Sweet 16: Dad, me and Mom celebrating my birthday (February 1990)

Mom was someone with a great zest for life, who savored every joy big — most especially her enduring love with and for Dad — and small, and she never lost her sense of wonder or spirit of gratitude. As I explored the sights and sounds of Berlin this afternoon, I smiled at my good fortune to be on this European journey — and to have had a mother who instilled in me a curiosity about the world around me, a desire to make the most of every single day.

Thank you, Mom.

3 comments » | losing a parent

Opening The Vault: Part Fifty Eight

December 13th, 2009 — 6:33pm

If you still have feelings for an ex, does that mean you’re not really in love with your new significant other? That weighty question was on my mind during an intense encounter with California-based old flame Mark (a.k.a Sparky) back in 1998.

Le Parker Meridien: Sparky and I caught up at this Midtown hotel back in ‘98

Sparky’s visit came at a time when I was at my most vulnerable — a little more than a month after losing my mom. Up in his hotel room, the connection between us resurfaced. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November of ’98…

November 21, 1998 – Volume 70
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

As Sparky and I embraced, I could feel his face turning toward mine. I made sure to keep only my cheek next to him.

He suggested I come out to Arizona.

“You could be the other woman,” he said. “Okay, let’s have a fling.”

I wasn’t entirely sure he was joking, but we both grew serious and Sparky said he has too much respect for his wife (as do I for David) to do that.

Suddenly, I could feel myself getting emotional and nostalgic about us. I struggled with the words. Finally, they came.

“When we were together, I was completely certain I loved you,” I admitted. “I haven’t had that certainty since.”

“Wow,” he said, clearly taken aback. “That’s really nice of you to say.”

I also told Sparky how upset I was to learn of his marriage. Though, I said, I never expected him to wait for me–

“I always thought we’d get back together someday.”

“Now you tell me!” he said with a laugh.

Later, Sparky reassured me that I will be okay, and reiterated how sorry he is about mom’s passing.

We hugged again. He squeezed my hand as he told me–

“I’ll always be here for you.”

He said not seeing me had been gnawing away at him since Mom’s passing in September, that he wanted to just jump on a plane.

“I still care about you — I think about you all the time.”

About David, he said he was 99 and 1/10 percent happy for me, but also a little jealous.

“Because I wish it was me.”

So, what does all of this mean for my relationship with David?

I don’t know.

* * *

David and I managed to survive Hurricane Sparky. And a happy milestone for us as a couple would prompt David to execute one of the greatest grand gestures I’ve ever received.

4 comments » | catching up with old flames, Le Parker Meridien, long-distance relationships, losing a parent, Midtown NYC hotels

Opening The Vault: Part Fifty Seven

December 5th, 2009 — 5:30pm

When it comes to love, there are moments where you find yourself at a crossroad between past and present. That complicated juncture is where I found myself back in the fall of 1998.

At the time, I was about four months into my relationship with dashing, noble Brit David — and six weeks into dealing with my beloved mother’s passing from breast cancer. It was during this emotional maelstrom that first love and California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky) came into town. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November ‘98…

November 21, 1998
New York, NY

Dear Diary,
I just spent a couple of hours with Sparky. It was an emotional, revelatory encounter — in some ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Le Parker Meridien: Sparky and I shared an intense encounter at this Midtown NYC hotel

I got to his hotel and was about to get on the elevator when the doors opened and he was there. We hugged and he immediately told me how great and thin I looked (always nice to hear from an ex).

As he usually does, he crammed into the revolving door next to me. Then, he extended his arm. I put mine through his but then felt awkward — which I admitted — and pulled away. Still, Sparky kept putting his hand on my back, shielding me from traffic.

We walked to Times Square, during which I spoke a lot about Mom. Bless him, he managed to say all of the wrong things — asking me if I’m thinking about my career or a retirement community for Dad now. I found myself thinking a lot about David, how much more understanding and sensitive he is.

After lunch at a diner, we walked back uptown and I told Sparky about David.

“I’m glad you have a good boyfriend,” he said.

“I’ve had one or two before,” I said pointedly.

Later, I told Sparky I was glad we could still laugh together.

“We just can’t do the physical stuff,” he interjected.

Nevertheless, back in Sparky’s room, he beckoned me toward him.

“You know, I’ve been waiting for a big hug,” he said.

So I went over to him and we embraced. And I felt a rush of the warm feelings I’ve always felt for him.

* * *
Before the afternoon was over, Sparky would make an unexpected proposition — and I would admit something I had never told him before.

Comment » | being torn between old and new loves, catching up with old flames, Le Parker Meridien, losing a parent, Opening The Vault

An Evening At Hope Lodge

October 4th, 2009 — 3:49pm

Thursday night, I attended an American Cancer Society reception for pacesetters — people who raise $2,500 for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

NYC’s Hope Lodge: The venue has helped more than 3,000 patients from all over the globe

The reception was held at Hope Lodge, which provides lodging and support for cancer patients and caregivers. Most patients who come to Hope Lodge have breast cancer, including 42-year-old Lisa Francis.

Lisa Francis a.k.a. “Cancer Killer” moved everyone with her courageous story

A Trinidad native, Lisa has been through three surgeries and chemo since being diagnosed last December. And she’s lost a 32-year-old friend back home to breast cancer.

“It is because of the American Cancer Society that I am standing here,” she told us. “If I was back home, I wouldn’t be celebrating my birthday.”

Four-time cancer survivor and makeup artist Jilladair was also on hand to talk about how she’s battled the disease, and to share her animal-free cosmetics line. She’s created a fabulous Tickled Pink lip gloss in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Jilladair and me at the reception

During the reception, I chatted with fellow past pacesetters Erica and Annette. Annette has been battling breast cancer for a decade. Like me, Erica is an annual participant in Making Strides because she lost her mother to the disease.

My mom once said that she believed there would be a cure for breast cancer in my lifetime. I’ve been making strides for 12 years now to help make her vision a reality.

Mom died a week before her 58th birthday. The theme of this year’s walk is a world with more birthdays. I hope you’ll click here and support me in taking steps toward that world and toward becoming a pacesetter once again.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will take place on Sunday October 18th.

Comment » | ACS Pacesetter, American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, charitable events, losing a parent, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

An Evening At Hope Lodge

October 4th, 2009 — 10:49am

Thursday night, I attended an American Cancer Society reception for pacesetters — people who raise $2,500 for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

NYC’s Hope Lodge: The venue has helped more than 3,000 patients from all over the globe

The reception was held at Hope Lodge, which provides lodging and support for cancer patients and caregivers. Most patients who come to Hope Lodge have breast cancer, including 42-year-old Lisa Francis.

Lisa Francis a.k.a. “Cancer Killer” moved everyone with her courageous story

A Trinidad native, Lisa has been through three surgeries and chemo since being diagnosed last December. And she’s lost a 32-year-old friend back home to breast cancer.

“It is because of the American Cancer Society that I am standing here,” she told us. “If I was back home, I wouldn’t be celebrating my birthday.”

Four-time cancer survivor and makeup artist Jilladair was also on hand to talk about how she’s battled the disease, and to share her animal-free cosmetics line. She’s created a fabulous Tickled Pink lip gloss in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Jilladair and me at the reception

During the reception, I chatted with fellow past pacesetters Erica and Annette. Annette has been battling breast cancer for a decade. Like me, Erica is an annual participant in Making Strides because she lost her mother to the disease.

My mom once said that she believed there would be a cure for breast cancer in my lifetime. I’ve been making strides for 12 years now to help make her vision a reality.

Mom died a week before her 58th birthday. The theme of this year’s walk is a world with more birthdays. I hope you’ll click here and support me in taking steps toward that world and toward becoming a pacesetter once again.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will take place on Sunday October 18th.

Comment » | ACS Pacesetter, American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, charitable events, losing a parent, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Best Friends Forever

February 12th, 2009 — 1:29am

One of my favorite sayings is friends are the family we choose for ourselves. That’s never been more true for me than with my best friend of 20+ years, Lisa.

Lisa and I first connected as pen pals back in 1987, bonding over our shared affection for the witty NBC soap opera “Santa Barbara.”

We clicked even more when we met in person several months later. And so began a friendship that has defied geographical odds (Lisa lives in Kansas City) to become the sisterhood closest to my heart.

Lisa and I during a girls getaway to L.A., Summer 1997

Lisa and I speak 3-4 times a week, and email and text each other daily. Over the years, we’ve shared everything — celebrity gossip, love life highs and lows, job-related trials and triumphs and the seminal loss in each of our lives, that of our respective parents.

Though I wish with all of my heart we didn’t have this in common, there’s no denying that having each lost both of our parents has deepened the bond between us — because we’re the only ones we know who’ve lived through this double tragedy as young, single women.

Though no two experiences of grief are the same, ours have both been filtered through the prism of having had parents we genuinely adored and respected. I cherish that I was able to know Lisa’s Mom and Dad and I know she feels the same way about mine.

Lisa is everything a best friend should be and more — a trusted advisor, sympathetic ear and the person I think of first whenever something really great (or really terrible) happens.

I’m looking forward to many, many more decades of friendship with Lisa. And many more conversations about how much we still love watching our old VHS tapes of “Santa Barbara.”

Comment » | BFF, celebrity gossip, Kansas City, long-distance friends, longtime best friends, losing a parent, Santa Barbara

Best Friends Forever

February 11th, 2009 — 8:29pm

One of my favorite sayings is friends are the family we choose for ourselves. That’s never been more true for me than with my best friend of 20+ years, Lisa.

Lisa and I first connected as pen pals back in 1987, bonding over our shared affection for the witty NBC soap opera “Santa Barbara.”

We clicked even more when we met in person several months later. And so began a friendship that has defied geographical odds (Lisa lives in Kansas City) to become the sisterhood closest to my heart.

Lisa and I during a girls getaway to L.A., Summer 1997

Lisa and I speak 3-4 times a week, and email and text each other daily. Over the years, we’ve shared everything — celebrity gossip, love life highs and lows, job-related trials and triumphs and the seminal loss in each of our lives, that of our respective parents.

Though I wish with all of my heart we didn’t have this in common, there’s no denying that having each lost both of our parents has deepened the bond between us — because we’re the only ones we know who’ve lived through this double tragedy as young, single women.

Though no two experiences of grief are the same, ours have both been filtered through the prism of having had parents we genuinely adored and respected. I cherish that I was able to know Lisa’s Mom and Dad and I know she feels the same way about mine.

Lisa is everything a best friend should be and more — a trusted advisor, sympathetic ear and the person I think of first whenever something really great (or really terrible) happens.

I’m looking forward to many, many more decades of friendship with Lisa. And many more conversations about how much we still love watching our old VHS tapes of “Santa Barbara.”

Comment » | BFF, celebrity gossip, Kansas City, long-distance friends, longtime best friends, losing a parent, Santa Barbara

Remembering Dad

December 23rd, 2008 — 2:55am

Today marks the second anniversary of my father’s passing. Dad died following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer, just a few weeks after celebrating his 90th birthday.

Dad packed a lot of living into those 90 years, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of those who know him. He charmed with his legendary wit and storytelling ability, and inspired with his generosity and understanding.

Dad and Me: Matching smiles at our annual family holiday party, December 1996

I’ve lost count of how many heart to hearts we had. Sometimes, Dad and I would talk for hours — usually about life and love, often about the amazing experiences that his hard work and desire to see the world had given him.

It was from Dad that I inherited a passion for travel (not to mention food, one of his other great loves). A global jetsetter during his entrepreneurial days, he never lost his wanderlust, continuing to rack up frequent flier miles well into his 80’s.

I remember perusing a list of destinations served by an international airline with him, amazed when he said that he’d been to nearly every single one (including London and Rome upwards of 30+ times). I considered it a great accomplishment when I finally traveled somewhere he had never been – Australia – and was able to share it with him in the same way he had regaled me with tales of his own journeys to the far corners of the world.

As for his gastronomic pursuits, Dad would have been the first one to admit he lived to eat. While somehow managing to stick to a very disciplined diet, he thoroughly enjoyed the pleasures of a good meal.

Many times, after dining out with friends, I would call Dad to give him a blow by blow description of each course. He invariably responded with enraptured sounds of delight.

It felt fitting to spend tonight having dinner with friends. Many of the best meals I’ve ever had were with Dad. I know he was there in spirit — just like he always is whenever I need him.

1 comment » | dining out, losing a parent, prostate cancer, travel

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