Cast Of Characters 2010

We’re rapidly approaching Team Babes with Brains fourth year at the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation’s Race for Research and our cast of characters deserves a shout out.  

While one may argue I should address the billowing bubbles coming from my washing machine instead of simply closing the door and pretending I didn’t see it; or begin to clean my house for the four house guests arriving in a few days; finish repainting Cooper’s room; or any of the 50 thousand items on my list; I’m avoiding the chaos in order to acknowledge those who will stand with me on Saturday and are my team.  Bubbles can wait.

Paul. Well, I write about him all the time…. what haven’t I said. He is my husband and best friend. We’ve been married going on 11 years and along the way we’ve waded through some pretty thick shit. Namely my piece of shit brain tumor. Yet, he always makes me laugh and provides a rock for me to prop myself up against when I simply can’t stand alone.  He never wavers and while he remains quiet, I know he is my biggest cheerleader.  I simply can not imagine going through this without him.  Thank you.

Kelly. The First Babe! With me since the beginning and first team member on “Babes with Brains”, Kelly was also my first friend here in Atlanta.  A true kind heart, Kelly and I share an odd connection of sorts.

June 20, 2007 I was diagnosed with my brain tumor. June 20th also happens to be Kelly’s birthday. Five hours after leaving the Neurosurgeons office I honored my commitment to our friendship and picked her up to take her out for her birthday dinner.  She must’ve thought I’d lost my mind for wanting to still go out and rightly so.  Yet, life does go on and she deserved a fun night out and I needed to believe the world was still spinning and I was still on it.  

It’s been a privilege to call Kelly my friend and to know that she’s next to me on my journey. A warm smile and a kind and generous heart, Kelly is a treasured and dear friend. While the passing of every June 20 is a reminder of when our life changed, it’s also a reminder of the good that life brings and the people who fill it. I view the date more as an anniversary of her life and our friendship rather than a date I want to run from. Kelly and I will pound out our 4th Race for Research 5k together on Saturday, side by side.  Thank you.

Jared and Stephanie. This one goes back a long way, old school back. I was two when we became neighbors in Connecticut and our families became friends. His family took me in as the honorary third child and I became “Neibs” (neighbor) as I got older;  a nickname for which I think many still identify me by. Through the years of enduring “beat downs” and intimidation (AKA character building exercises), we somehow grew up and stayed connected. 

The Godfather to our first-born, Tucker, Jared is a quiet yet strong supporter. The first person I think of when I hear the Rolling Stones, a person who well defines the word “Loyal” and who best utilizes the word “Nice” as a singular sentence. A man of few words, the choice and strength of each word spoken and written have been meaningful.  As I run Saturday, I will be thinking what I always do. I am grateful that he dished out such meaningful character building exercises. Without them or him, I may not have the fire inside my soul to fight like hell. Cheers to you my friend. 

Stephanie, Jared’s wife, is back again this year and rumor has it she’s running, having retired as our photographer, official cheerleader and key keeper.  It’s been a privilege to get to know her well over the past five years and I was honored to be a part of their wedding in 2007 in Rhode Island.  Stephanie, who provided inspiration for the tag line to this blog a while back while offering support, possesses a unique ability to encourage with perspective, empathy, compassion and humor. Thank you Stephanie. 

Karen and Andrew. Karen is my friend. No, make that a great friend. We met in Charlotte in September of 2003. In the years since, we’ve enjoyed countless cookouts, nights out and play dates with our children. We’ve shared the joys of pregnancy and the sadness of miscarriage; we’ve watched and loved each others children like they were our own; celebrated the highs and hung on during the lows of our husbands careers and covered everything in between over a hot cup of coffee, a tall glass of wine and a telephone line.  

Through it all we maintained, persevered, laughed and cried.

We’ve learned over the years how valuable friendship is and have both come to appreciate that the adventure of life is best experienced and shared together. Our families have shared more than a few meals together celebrated anniversaries and birthdays, drank our fair share of wine and plenty of coffee, laughed a lot, confessed our fears and hang onto hope for the future.  Saturday, we’ll add another memory into our life library.  

Kristen and Laura.  Here begins a story of the beauty of friendship. We three were sorority sisters at Lafayette College. Laura and I both transferred after our sophormore years. She went onto George Washington University and I ventured off to Purdue, leaving Kristen to remain and graduate in 1996. Until the introduction of Facebook into our lives, we had not been in touch for 15 years.  In fact, even after all the planning for this weekend, I have yet to even talk to either on the phone!

The funny thing about time is that it has this remarkable ability to stand still while moving 900 miles an hour.  We’ve each followed different roads in our lives leading us to varied careers, and adventures, marriages, children for some, happiness and joy and sadly challenges and devastating events.

Yet, somehow after all these years it’s as if we’ve simply just been on summer break. Friday, two friends will leave their families behind and share not only their support, compassion, humor and a flood of memories, they will share with me their presence.  I am so appreciative and at a loss for words to express how grateful I am.  

How did I get so lucky to have such wonderful and generous people in my life? I am truly blessed.

Off to the basement I go to dig out old college photo albums. While we’ll pretend we’re 20 rather than a handful of years away from 40 we’ll share, laugh, cry, remember and look ahead to the future.

Friendship is a beautiful thing.  If a piece of shit brain tumor was the catalyst for gathering these people together and reconnecting old friends, then it’s a price I am willing to pay. I am blessed.

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