Silence is not golden…

Here at Terri’s, cleaning up the kitchen, and the silence is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I feel as if it is choking me. My throat aches as it fights to temper the tears.

I’m standing where Terri should be standing. Where Terri should be washing her own dishes. With two working arms. Swaying to the rhythms of Jay Z. Reviewing her day. Planning her tomorrow.

But instead it is me standing here at her sink. Feeling the incredibly heavy, seemingly insurmountable weight of grief. Of anger. Of silence.

I hate fucking cancer.

I hate that it has taken away Miss M’s mother. Heron’s wife. Spider’s daughter. My niece. Jamie’s “big sister”. I hate that Marisa’s eyes were swollen tonight from crying this afternoon for her Mamãe. That Heron was exhausted from trying to balance housework, laundry, and grocery shopping with entertaining his little girl. That Terri isn’t here to take Marisa school shopping tomorrow for just the right back pack. Just the right lunch box. Just the right sassy outfit for the first day of first grade this week.

Grief is a many layered phenomenon. Just when you think you have taken it by the horns, it sneaks up and pierces your heart.

But tonight, for one incredibly powerful moment, we regained our hold. As Heron, Marisa, Jamie and I sat around the table after dinner, Heron noticed the humidity monitor read 77 three times; simultaneously.

“Quick, make a wish! All the numbers are the same. You are supposed to make a wish!” exclaimed Papai.

I squeezed my eyes tight, wishing for happiness for Heron and Miss M. I cried, “I hope mine comes true!”

“Mine will probably take a long time,” Marisa said somewhat solemnly.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s so far away and there’s two.”

“Which two?” Papai asked.

She looked at each of us, hesitated for the briefest of moments and said, “Mamãe and Nana.”

“I thought that’s who you were wishing about,” I said, smiling conspiratorially. She smiled back. “Why will it take so long?”

“Because I have to go to heaven. And it’s far away.”

“Ahhh,” Papai said, “Maybe you will see them tonight in your dreams,” he coaxed, with that loving twinkle in his eyes.

“Will there be lots of candy in your heaven?” Jamie asked, giving Miss M that Jamie look that always elicits a smile.

Sure enough, a huge smile spread across Marisa’s face. “Yup!” she gleefully exclaimed.

She grabbed hold of the wooden centerpiece, “FAMILY”.

“That’s right Miss M, we are family. I got all my nieces, daughters, son-in-law’s with me!” I sang, Jamie rolling her eyes at her zany mother.

And with that, we filled the silence. With our love. With our connection. With our shared pain. And tomorrow Jamie and I will fill Miss M’s silence with the best shopping spree ever. And in two weeks, Jamie will fill the silence by taking Miss M to her second, count them, second concert. This time it’s One Direction. Time will tell if they beat out Miss M’s first concert, Taylor Swift! And we will continue to do our best to fill the silence. To take it by its horns.

I invite you to do the same. Here on Terri’s blog. With each other.

And most importantly, with Heron and Marisa, who need our help filling their silence the most.

Love,
Aunty Laurie

We Are Family...

We Are Family…

Paying It Forward

 

Terri at Blowout 2014

Terri at Blowout 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard to believe a year has passed since our beloved Warrior was the honoree of Blowout 2014. Such love. Such generosity. Such hope.

This year it was our turn to pay it forward. For Terri and for this year’s recipient, 10 yr. old Braiden, diagnosed  with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor.

Like Terri, Braiden exudes positivity despite battling seemingly endless health challenges. Like Terri, his love of life radiates from his being. And like Terri, he and his family were blown away by the love. The generosity. The hope. The Blowout organizers and volunteers once again brought together a community to make a profound difference in a family’s life.

Although this year was particularly painful for us, our grief was tempered by none other than Terri herself.

On the day before the Blowout, Heron sent me this video, Terri Blowout 2015 . My heart ached watching my girl; alive, fighting the fight, wowing the crowd with her inspirational spirit.

I left for yoga after having a good cry and half way through the class, Terri literally “embraced” me. One second I was in down dog, then after rising to mountain pose, I swear I felt her presence enfold me. Tears spilled from my eyes as I “held” her to me, welcoming that achingly familiar but seemingly elusive sensation that I have come to recognize as Terri’s spirit.

When I reached my car, there was a text from her childhood friend, Amy. At the same time I was practicing yoga, Amy was driving to western Massachusetts. So overcome was she with missing Terri, she pulled off the highway. She told me she was wishing she believed in “signs”, like Heron and I, when suddenly, a woman walked in front of her car who looked just like Terri. She shrugged it off and got out of the car to find the bathroom. Walking by two different vendors, their tables were filled with “I love New York” trinkets. She smiled, feeling the “signs” from her best friend hitting her over the head! Once in the bathroom she realized there was no toilet paper. The person next to her was kind enough to assist. Opening the door, she realized her savior was none other than the woman who looked just like Terri…

Later that day I got a text from Aunty Cole. I had sent her a card a month or two earlier that was returned. So I fixed the address and sent it off again and she had just received it. Aunty Cole described experiencing a plaguing, free floating anxiety connected to the loss of her best friend. And then my card arrived.  Just when she needed it the most.

On the same day Heron sent me the video. The same day I felt Terri in yoga. The same day Amy experienced her own “signs”…

Terri knew The Blowout was going to be a bittersweet day for us so she found a way to validate that attending was exactly what we needed to do.

It was beautiful. It was painful. It was necessary.

And Terri did what she always did best. Her timeless lessons of love and living life large streamed through in Marisa’s smiling face as she and her BFF Jillian rode the pony and climbed the rock wall, touched our hearts through Aunty Dori, cousin Ian and Jenna’s powerful music, and shone brightly within the 360 degree rainbow that appeared in the sky.

Her message was loud and clear. Live. Love. Dream. Hope. And most importantly, embrace each and every opportunity to join together and honor her spirit, so that it will never, ever, die.

Love, Aunty Laurie

Papai and Miss M

Papai and Miss M

The second generation of BFF's- Miss M and Amy's daughter, Jillian

The second generation of BFF’s- Miss M and Amy’s daughter, Jillian

 

 

 

 

 

Aunty Dori, Jenna, Ian and Danny

Aunty Dori, Jenna, Ian and Danny

Terri sent rainbow

Terri sent rainbow

Aint no mountain high enough!

Aint no mountain high enough! Go Marisa!

Visit From Terri

Chatham Labyrinth

Chatham Labyrinth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I said the last entry would be the last, but I just couldn’t keep what happened today to myself… I mean, shit like this just doesn’t happen. But those of you who knew and loved Terri know that when it comes to Terri, shit like this does happen. And it’s important to share. And to believe.

Believe in what? In miracles. That if we open ourselves, if we “listen”, if we “show up”, as my sister Jeanne used to say, that miracles do happen.

I’m in Chatham, Massachusetts, celebrating the 25th year of my annual GWA (Girls’ Weekend Away). My sacred girlfriend retreat. The one Terri joined us for the first time in year 13.

This year is special for so many reasons. Chatham is actually where my grief journey began. When I was 8 years old. When my then 16 year-old sister Jeanne told me my 42 year-old father had just died.

And Chatham is where I’ve come all these years later to heal my newest wounds. My newest layer of loss.

So when I saw that Pilgrim”s Landing: Provisions For The Spiritual Traveler (http://pilgrimslandingcapecod.com), was offering a guided Labyrinth walk, my girlfriends and I  “showed up” to walk. Both Terri and Jeanne had passionately spoken to me about their transformative labyrinth journeys, but in all my 58 years, I had never experienced one.

As I entered, I set an intention to honor my sister and my niece.

The tears fell as I put one foot in front of the other along the stone path, feeling their presence enfold me. Feeling a profound sense of loss.

Then, I literally was lost. I had lost my way on the path. Suddenly, my friend Diane appeared. Our eyes locked and once again, I was found… I turned and joined her, following her footsteps. Connected once again.

Later, our guide spoke about metaphors evoked by this mindful experience, and I realized that my girlfriends have always been there to guide me, to hold me, to walk with me through this journey we call life. They’ve always “showed up”. For me, and for Terri.

Tonight, I Skyped with Heron and Marisa. After we caught up on this weeks highlights, Heron said, “I saw that picture you posted yesterday on Facebook of the labyrinth.”

I excitedly told him and Marisa about how amazing it was and that I totally felt Terri and Jeanne’s presence and love.

Heron said, “Marisa walked a labyrinth yesterday too…”

“What???” I asked incredulously. “She what???”

“She walked a labyrinth too,” he said, smiling. “When I went to pick her up at day care she took my hand and showed me a labyrinth she had created out of wood chips. And she wanted me to walk it so I did. We both did. And then when I got home I saw your picture.”

“Oh my God!” I exclaimed, goose bumps tingling along my arms. “It was Terri. It was a visit from Mamãe, Marisa!”

And the three of us just smiled at each other from ear to ear, basking in the loving warmth of this gift. This miracle.

I mean, what are the chances? On the exact same day? At almost the exact same time?

Miracles do happen.

So please listen for them. Search for them. Believe in them.

I know I will.

Love,

Aunty Laurie

Till We Meet Again…

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It’s been an emotionally charged couple of weeks…

More beginnings. More endings. And lots of in betweens.

Marisa’s 6th birthday. Terri’s NYC Astoria Park Bench Dedication. The 6 month anniversary of Terri’s death…

And then came the silence… The sadness… The searching…

Until finally, the answers appeared. Signed, sealed and delivered by Terri.

This will be my/our last blog post. Is it any wonder I have been avoiding writing it? Or that as I type, tears are streaming down my face? How do I “say goodbye” yet again? Staying connected to all of you through this blog has been my lifeline to Terri. Staying true to the promise I made to her when she whispered to me, “I think I am dying. I want you to tell people,”  has been one of the most profoundly life changing experiences of my life.

But she has gently and lovingly been sending me signs, markers, and messages that it is time. Guiding me as her mother did before her on my grief journey.

And her message is/was loud and clear. It brings to mind something she tried to explain to me about a week before she died. She kept dreaming about these scarfs. They kept changing colors and would get wet every time she made a questionable moral decision. They were a constant test.  Everyone had to wear them. But in the end, “We all had to tie them together until we were all in agreement…” In the end, “It is not about being perfect. It’s about being whole.” In the end, “There is enough love in the universe for everyone…”

How incredibly “Terri’ is that?

Right up to her death, she was sharing her profound visions of hope. Of universal love and truth. Of the critical importance of connection.

Then, right before she drifted off she said, “It meant the world to me to have you all here to celebrate with me. That I was not forgotten…”

No, my love, you will never be forgotten. I promise you that.

Nicole and I will publish your blog, just as you wished.

Miss M will be loved in true Mamãe style forever and always-dreaming big, honoring her truth, dancing, loving, traveling and changing the world…

And this final video, which you so brilliantly saved till now, will keep you just a “click away”…

Deepest gratitude to Michael and Kathy Murray from Summer Wind Wedding Films who worked tirelessly with me to capture Terri’s essence and the depth of love we all feel for her.

And for those of you who haven’t yet heard my sister Dori’s powerfully heartrending, “Hymn for Terri”,  sung by Dori, my niece, Tanya and my daughter, Erin, you are in for an incredibly moving experience. If you would like to own a copy of the song, we will send anyone who donates to Miss M’s College Fund through the GoFundMe link on this page, a free mp3 download.

So, my beloved niece, till we meet again, “We’ll find, we’ll have to find, our way without you…”

Terri   password-terri

 

 

Memorializing Miss M’s Mamãe

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Terri Luanna DaSilva’s Park Bench Dedication

Sunday, May 31st, Noon- ?

Astoria Park, Shore Blvd. (near Ditmars Blvd.), Astoria, NY

Overlooking the East River

OPEN TO ALL

 

Open to all…

That was Terri. Through and through. Open to all of life’s lessons, gifts, people, adventures, beliefs, challenges…

So it is with an open heart, on this day when we honor Mothers everywhere, that Terri’s family invites all of you to her bench dedication in her beloved NYC. Please join us as we gather together to remember. To honor. To commemorate. To grieve.

It’s what we did today with Miss M on this first Mother’s Day without her cherished Mamãe. It’s what I did when I travelled recently with Miss M to Bowen Island and Vancouver to visit Grandpa and Aunty Cole- communed with all that was/is Terri Luanna…

We invite you to do the same.

So pack a picnic lunch, bring your lawn chairs, perhaps a kite or two, an instrument if you like, but most importantly, bring your memories and your stories of Terri Luanna, of our gracefulwmoanwarrior, to share with one another. Because in the end, it’s the only thing that makes sense. It’s the only thing that eases the ache, fills the void, lessens the tears. That brings forth Terri’s essence. Her light. Her love of life and of all of us.

There will be music. And there will be dancing. And there’ll even be a piñata for the kids and a birthday cake for Miss M’s 6th birthday!

I can’t wait to see all of you. Because in seeing you, I see Terri…

Love, Aunty L

PS- Here’s the email I received from Terri’s cousin Jeanne after she “christened” Terri’s bench for all of us.

 

Thank you, Laurie!
After you alerted me that the plaque was on the bench, I could hardly wait to go see for myself. Last Friday night, after work, instead of hopping off the train at Broadway as usual, I rode to the end of the line. By then, I had to pee :) so I stopped in at a bar (The Let Love Inn), used the restroom and drank a glass of white wine alone at the bar. I was suddenly feeling very emotional over seeing the bench. I decided that I wanted to bring a flower for Terri, so I walked back to the florist on the corner. At this point, the sun was swiftly setting, so I quickly chose an orange gerbera daisy and told the florist that I didn’t need it wrapped. He handed it to me, smiled, and said, “Miss, it’s on the house.” Of course, at that, I started to cry. I just thanked him, hurried on, and clutched my little flower all the way to the river. It was such a beautiful night, the first time this year that I had noticed crocuses and daffodils beaming up from the earth. The sky turned pink, I smiled through tears at the people I passed, and then suddenly I was upon it. The bench. And there was our Terri’s name, in all it’s glory. She has the perfect spot. It was so pretty there, and I sat in a peaceful private moment, and I am just so glad that Terri (and all of us!) will have this bench. Thank you thank you thank you for arranging it!! And thanks so much for letting me know that it was done! I won’t share any pics of the plaque ahead of the great reveal… but here are a few other photos from my visit. (The bench on the right, beside the lamp post, is Terri’s.)
See you soon.

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“These are a few of my favorite things…”

It’s been awhile.

I am sitting in Jeanne’s living room on Bowen Island and Terri is everywhere…

In the pictures. On the ferry ride. In the tears of pure joy that streamed down Grandpa’s face. In the living room, dancing right along with Auntie Cole, Mr. Ed, Miss M and I to Grandpa’s joyous guitar playing.

Terri loved this island. As did her mother. It’s hard to describe the mystical magic that surrounds this place. I remember Jeanne telling me it was once considered a sacred healing ground. I can see why. It is why I came here and why I brought Miss M with me. To heal. To grieve. To honor all that is Terri. All that is her mother.

I barely made it onto the porch before the tears started flowing. Auntie Cole and I wrapped our arms around each other as both the absence of, and Terri’s palpable presence, washed over us. Miss M ran from the couch to the chair, grabbing Nana Canada’s zen pillows, hugging them close, saying, “Mamãe, Mamãe”, her radiant face filled with the essence of her mother’s love.

It was beautiful. And painful. And so very important.

I am so grateful to Papai, Auntie Cole and Mr. Ed for this gift of time with Miss M. For this opportunity to accompany her on this journey. This journey of life and of death. Of making sense of the senseless and tragic leave-taking of our magnificent gracefulwomanwarrior. Of Miss M’s beloved Mamãe.

This morning at Auntie Cole’s, I read the daily reading from my new meditation book, Your Daily Rock; A Daybook of Touchstones For Busy Lives by Patti Digh, given to be by my BFF. It offers a morning and evening question and this morning’s was, What is the question? 

Miss M went first.

“Why is heaven up so high in the sky?”

“That’s a really good question,” Auntie Cole said.

“Hmm,” I replied. “Why do you think, Miss M?”

“So we can’t see them.”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s true isn’t it? We can’t see Mamãe up there, can we? That’s the hard part about heaven. It makes me really sad. But I also think it’s up so high because it’s so beautiful up there in the sky. When you were sleeping last night on the plane, I took this picture of the sky. Look at it. Isn’t it beautiful? I think that’s why it is so high up. So Mamãe and Nana Canada can be together in such a beautiful place, watching over us.”

Auntie Cole went on to describe how it’s so beautiful up there because heaven holds the essence of the love that we have for each other. That it is always with us for ever and ever. Like Mamãe.

This was one of those powerfully pivotal moments. Those moments that occur when we take the time to be present. To join together to embrace the memory of our loved ones.

They are there for the taking. We just have to be open.

There were an abundance of them the day we gathered with Papai and Miss M to lovingly sift through Terri’s belongings. It was a painfully beautiful ritual that Miss M directed, each of us choosing one our favorite things to wear with love and cherish always.

We laughed. We cried. And we remembered. Just as we did today.

You are invited to do the same. To create yet another powerfully pivotal “Terri moment” when we gather together in NYC for her park bench dedication.

So please mark your calendars for Sunday, May 31st, at 12:00 p.m. in Astoria Park, Astoria, NY. Your “invitation ” will arrive soon. Right here on Terri’s blog.

Hope to see you there…

Love, Auntie L

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Trying on Mamae’s crazy pink wig!

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Auntie Cole and Miss M together again!

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“View from heaven”

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Miss M and Grandpa jamming

Happy Birthday Mom Revisited…

Today would have been my sister, Jeanne Robinson’s, 67th birthday…

Compelled to honor and celebrate the magnificent woman that birthed our beloved gracefulwomanwarrior, I journeyed to the birthplace of our matriarch, Dorothy; that magical place on the tip of Cape Cod that has always been a sanctuary for the Rubbicco/Robinson women- Provincetown.

I feel her presence here. Terri’s presence. It is such a comforting feeling to surround myself with the memories we created walking the dunes, shopping at the Himalayan and candy store, climbing the Monument, trekking to our favorite dune shack, sitting in the parlors of our Tia Marguerite and Tia Marion, witnessing the spectacular sunsets at Race Point.

Revisiting and embracing our grief helps us transform it. Integrate it. Own and manage it. It allows us to live without the ones we love while still holding them close.

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Looking ahead, you too will have an opportunity to pay homage to your beloved Terri. Soon. Plans are taking shape for her NYC Memorial Celebration. Her Astoria park bench is being created as we speak. Mark your calendars for May 31, 2015. Together, we will gather, remember, grieve and celebrate Terri’s life, just as she did for her mother in her blog post below…

Love,

Aunty L

 

March 30, 2010

Bowen Island (2009)

Bowen Island (2009)

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls (2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 64.

Unfortunately, as most of you already know, my mom passed away almost 2 years ago. Cancer.

But today I celebrate her birth and remember the brilliance of Jeanne Robinson – dancer, writer, choreographer, Buddhist, sister, wife, friend, aunt, and of course, mother. I could go on and on about how kick-ass my mom was. Anyone who met her knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Hunter College Graduate School of Social Work -  New York City (2005)

Hunter College Graduate School of Social Work –
New York City (2005)

I took some time by myself today to walk in the woods and connect with her. Listening to the birds.

 

Watching the ripples on the pond. Feeling the breeze. Telling mom how much I miss her. Wishing she were here with me during my own struggle with cancer. Crying.

I’ve been crying all day. Thinking about her. Remembering. Watching old videos of her and Miss M. Looking at photos.

In doing so, I realize that amidst all the turmoil and sadness of mom being sick there were still so many moments of joy, laughter, dance, music, and love. The videos and photos were full of them… My mom and dad singing and playing guitar while Miss M bounces up and down to the beat. The family walks through the magnificent rain forests of Bowen Island. Miss M giggling and my mom soaking up every possible piece of her. The love we all felt just being together.

I am so glad Miss M was born when she was. I’m sure it was no coincidence. Miss M helped us stay rooted in the moment and not dwell on the fact that mom was sick. She made my mom so happy and allowed her to forget about the cancer. Even now, Miss M continues to lighten our days during our second round of cancer. It is no coincidence that she arrived when she did. Miss M and my mom had a special bond.

Today, on my mom’s birthday, I remember all the good memories. Today I give thanks.

Thank you mom for being such an inspiration. Thank you for showing me it is ok to be a parent and still go after your own dreams. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for modeling compassion. Thank you for being my #1 cheerleader. Thank you for helping me become the strong, confident, and loving woman I am today. Thank you for being my mom.

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Valentine’s Love for Mamae…

Valentine’s Day. The day to proclaim your love to all those you hold near and dear. Not such an easy thing to do when the one you love is just beyond your reach…

From the moment we woke up today, Miss M and I yearned for our precious Mamae. So off we went, in search of that elusive thread of connection.

Suddenly, there she was. In her daughter’s wide eyed excitement as Miss M opened her first Leggo kit- a Frozen Castle of course. Luckily, cousin Andrew, Leggo master extraordinaire, was on hand to build it with her.

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And there she was again, at Alden Court, as Miss M melted into Nana Nana’s loving arms.

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But still, our need wasn’t satisfied.

So to satiate our unfulfilled longing, the skyping commenced. We still hadn’t heard back from Auntie Cole whom we had left a hilarious video message for, so we moved on to Grandpa on Bowen island, followed by Papai in Ct. Next it was Eryka in CA, but still no Auntie Cole.

So to kill some time I pulled up the pictures of one of my Ohio visits in search of the picture of Miss M in her green frog hat which we had packed for our 4 day visit.

And there she was. In picture after picture. Our beautiful, beloved Mamae.

Suddenly, Miss M clicked on a movie clip. There the three of us were. Kitchen Dance Party in Ohio!!! Boogying away to our favorite “Badia” by Earth Wind and Fire.

My eyes filled with tears. Miss M leaned in closer. And closer. We touched. Kissed. Laughed.

“I miss her,” I said, tears falling. “She loved you so much.” “She’ll always love you…”

For almost two hours we communed. Remembered. Rejoiced in all that was Mamae. I even drew Miss M a family tree as I tried to explain how Nana Canada was my sister and Nana Nana my mother. When we got to her at the bottom of the tree, I said, “Some day, you may have a family and then we will add your child to this tree..”

Then Jamie, Lala, and Uncle Markie arrived with dinner, having braved yet another New England blizzard. And right on cue, the Skype ring tone sounded, and the bright and beautiful Auntie Cole arrived!

So I’ll leave you with a few precious video memories of our beloved Mamae. I hope you created some of your very own on this Valentine’s Day.

Love, Auntie L

Modern Dance Marisa

Car ride love note

Marisa’s 2nd Bday

Dance party With Miss M and Mamae

THE LESSONS CONTAINED IN THE SUFFERING…

On this wintery, blustery day, I went searching for the perfect epitaph for Terri’s bench. So naturally, I went straight to the source; gracefulwomanwarrior. Back to the beginning…

Two hours and many tears later, I made it through the first year of Terri’s blog.

God, could that girl write. And inspire. And energize. I am fired up with an indescribable need to get her blog published. And I only got one third of the way through! In the last few weeks of her life, Aunty Cole, Terri and I spoke often about bringing this dream to fruition.

Rest assured, Team Terri WILL make Terri’s dream a reality. In the mean time, here are a few gems from our Warrior to ponder in the days ahead.

Aunty L

1-28-12

FIGURE OUT WHAT’S IMPORTANT

When you’re faced with your own mortality it causes you to reevaluate what’s important.

At the ripe old age of 37, death is not something I really contemplated before now. And then – wham! You’re diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and your whole perspective changes.

I know some people facing serious illness and terminal disease may be tempted to continue living their lives just as they had before. Changing nothing. And although I continue with the day-to-day tasks of everyday living as I always have, I’ve also been overcome by this strong desire to prioritize. To decide what is truly deserving of my time.

I don’t want to waste my time on bullshit.

I think questioning what is truly important is a good exercise for everyone to do. Are you spending the time you have in a nourishing and fulfilling way? Do you enjoy your work? Do you enjoy your time outside of work? Do you make decisions in line with what you truly want out of life?

Even though I’ve figured out what’s important to me, the hardest step is incorporating these things into my life. Making them a priority.

So let’s all do it together. Let’s make the effort to prioritize the things that bring us joy. Find a few moments each day to do something enriching and enjoyable. Something that makes your day a bit better. That makes this life worth living.

If not now – when?

Make it happen. Peace to all. -T

2-25-12

CHOOSE WELL

Even when it seems life is backing you into a corner you always have a choice. I cannot control the fact that I have cancer. But I can control how I deal with it. I can choose not to let it ruin my life. I can choose to keep on living in spite of it.

It’s your life. Choose well.

With love, – T

3-25-12

MAKE LEMONADE

Even with metastatic breast cancer I’m still enjoying life.

Maybe things aren’t as awful as we imagine them to be. Life in Ohio ain’t all that bad. Not nearly as awful as I thought it might be. Stage 4 breast cancer? Yeah, it sucks a lot of the time. But it hasn’t made my life totally awful.

Maybe it’s really about what you make of the turmoil and not the turmoil itself. Shit happens to everyone. Life has lots of sucky moments. But life only becomes truly awful if we allow it to be.

I will not allow it. Just use your lemons to make lemonade.

Peace. – T

6-22-12

MY CROSS TO BEAR

This is my cross to bear. It is what it is. And who’s to say one person’s cross is worse than another person’s? Every cross is different. And they are all difficult. They all suck. They all bring pain. And yet, our crosses can also force us to ask big questions, re-evaluate priorities, and make a commitment to living a fuller life. Amidst the turmoil we can try to make peace with our crosses. Figure out why that particular cross is ours to bear in the first place. Understand the lessons contained in the suffering. And use it all as an opportunity to grow, learn, and discover who we truly are.

To all those out there with a cross to bear, I feel your pain. We’re all in this together. As my dad, author Spider Robinson, and many of you have said, “Shared pain is lessened, shared joy, increased.” So let’s all keep sharing.

Peace. – T

6-26-12

GOING BEYOND CANCER

Many people tell me how inspired or touched they are by my blog. I know how therapeutic it is for me to write all this down but the fact that my ramblings bring special moments to other people’s lives is so amazing. This whole thing started out as a site to keep family and friends up-to-date on my treatment and has now become so much more than that. I’m still not sure where it’s going, but I know that staying connected with the blog, and everyone reading it, is a good thing.

I think we all have a desire to make our marks in the world. Make a difference in someone’s life. Live a fulfilling life. And yet, it’s so easy to get stuck in fear or the comfort of our routines and completely miss out on the opportunity to do something big. To appreciate the beauty that is all around us. To connect with each other. Take a risk. Try something new.

Let’s not wait any longer to make our mark on the world. We’re all here for a reason. What’s yours?

7-4-12

IT’S NO FUN HAVING CANCER

As I said, it’s so much easier to be happy on the good days. On days like today, when my body starts acting up, there is no denying my reality. I so wish I could be done with it all. But that’s not an option. This is my life. My new life. And sometimes it’s kind of depressing… and it sucks… and it’s totally no fun at all.

But millions of people experience life altering situations every day – accidents, strokes, heart attacks, death, illness… And things are never quite the same again. I guess the key is recognizing that even when a situation is horrible, it doesn’t mean our whole lives have to become horrible as well. There will be good days and bad days. Ups and downs. It is what it is. Some things we can’t change.

Thanks to everyone for pulling me through. For giving me a reason to keep pouring out my soul on this blog, face my feelings, and contribute to my healing. It means a lot. Especially on the “not so good” days like today.

Much love to all. – T

7-22-12

NOT WASTING ANY TIME

Of course there is no way to know how my life will play out. No way for any of us to know.

A few nights ago hubby opened up about how sad he is. Sad that our lives are forever changed. Sad that I have to go through surgery and be in pain. Sad at the thought that Miss M might lose her mom.

Of course I’m sad too. But I’ve gotten really good at detaching myself from the sadness. Just putting one foot in front of the other. Trying to enjoy the moment because who knows how many moments you have left… I don’t want to waste them. I don’t want to be asleep when I can be awake. I don’t want to obsess about cleaning when I can be enjoying time with Miss M. I don’t want to be watching trashy reality tv when I can be reading a good book.

Every single moment truly matters. Time is precious. Let’s not take it for granted.

Peace. – T

12-13-12

GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN

In January I go for my next set of scans. I believe they will show NED (no evidence of disease) – knock on wood… If that is the case, then in my mind the battle becomes one of prevention rather than active treatment. Regardless, most doctors want me to continue taking medications for the rest of my life. However, I truly believe that if it’s all about prevention, all the actions I am taking to fortify and heal my body, mind, and spirit can work just as well as medications – without all the horrible side effects.

It all makes so much sense to me. It feels right to me. The difficult part is convincing everyone else that I’m not crazy for going against the grain and making such “radical” choices. But, I’m learning to get over that. I am listening to my gut. I am honouring my feelings. I am seeking information from all sources. And ultimately, these are my decisions to make.

This is my life. I plan on living it to the fullest.

Peace. -T

12-24-12

PARENTAL LESONS ON LIFE

Parenting is one of the most difficult endeavors I have ever taken on. Nothing tests your patience more than an angry, screaming child.

What I had hoped and expected to be a beautiful festive family day, ended up being a day from hell. And I couldn’t seem to shake the bad energy off me. I carried it with me the rest of the day.

So today I consciously made an effort to start fresh. I sipped my morning coffee from my favourite “Serenity” mug (the same one my mom used to drink from each morning)… I met Miss M where she was at (a valuable skill I learned in social work school) instead of imposing my own expectations or preferences on her… I paid attention to her… We laughed and played together… And aside from one minor incident over some M&M’s this morning we’ve had a pretty awesome day so far.

I realize every day offers an opportunity to start fresh. To let go of the past and welcome each new moment. Do things differently. Make better choices.

It’s been one year since I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I am so grateful to still be here. To be feeling well. To have the opportunity to celebrate another holiday season with those I love. To live another day.

Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday – filled with serenity, beauty, love… And fresh starts :-)

Peace. – T

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Quest for the Bench

Been missing Terri… So much…

As are Miss M. And Heron. And many of you.

I know because some of you reached out this week. Feeling the same ache. Missing her smile. Her light. Her irrepressible positivity.

Two weeks ago, Miss M and I channeled our grief by embarking on a quest to NYC to find Mamae’s perfect bench.

Terri wasn’t attached to Memorials. Or Funerals. Or Cemeteries.

Her requests were simple; a party-check, dancing-check, scattering some of her ashes in the ocean by her favorite city in the world- NYC, and maybe a bench in her memory, where we could sit “with” her at Astoria Park.

So a core group gathered- Miss M, myself, Erin and Matt, Grandpa, Auntie Mary, Uncle John, cousin Jeanne and Uncle Jim. Miss M brought along her brand spanking new magnifying glass to solve the mystery of which bench was pictured in a photo of Mamae, 9 months pregnant, sitting along side the two sets of overjoyed expectant grandparents.

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After a half hour of searching, our determined group was perilously close to frost bite. As the sun began setting on the Hudson River, Erin exclaimed, “There it is!!” In true Nancy Drew style, Miss M meticulously examined every inch of the bench. (Terri had asked Erin to turn Miss M on to her favorite detective series, hence the accompanying magnifying glass!)

Proclaiming the mystery solved, we hustled our freezing asses back to our cars and journeyed to Terri’s favorite Italian restaurant, Trattoria L’incontro, where we were led to the same exact table that Terri, Heron, Miss M, Nana Nana and I celebrated Marisa’s 1st birthday and Heron’s graduation. (Thanks Terri…) We savored exquisite Italian delicacies while reminiscing, reconnecting and reenergizing our heavy hearts.

I can’t tell you how deeply grateful I am for these moments of connectivity; of shared grief. They are incredibly powerful in tempering the ever present, heart wrenching pain of losing Terri. Soon enough, you too will have an opportunity to do the same.

Dori, Tanya and Erin are putting the finishing touches on Dori’s  hauntingly beautiful,  We’ll Find Our Way (Hymn For Terri), soon to be featured here on Terri’s blog.

Application for said bench is in process, and will be followed by a NYC Dedication Celebration in true Terri style, open to all.

In the mean time, I offer you this opportunity to join with me in remembering our beloved gracefulwomanwarri, Terri Luanna, by clicking on this link…  Terri’s Life Celebration

Love Auntie L

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