good-bye, Burley

burley.jpgIt was 2006 and the news of my metastatic disease had been sinking in for at least a month when I was having coffee with my friend Allison. I was talking about what might help get me out of my funk and out into the spring and summer. I wondered aloud if I should get a bike trailer. Perhaps, I mused, that would get me the proper exercise while having quality time with Zoe.

Apparently, I wondered aloud to the right person. Less than a week later, a Burley bike trailer was at my doorstep courtesy of Allison, JD, Paul, and Kristen. I was blown away.

Zoe and I put miles and miles on the Burley. We took friends to the park. Zoe chatted at me incessantly from her wheeled chariot: “Why are you breathing so loud, Mommy? Can’t you go faster? Is it because we’re going up a hill? Hey, Mommy, why aren’t you answering me?”

The blonde four-year-old who accompanied me on these rides has now become a leggy six-year-old who balances ably on the tag-along Grammy and Bumpa put on my bike. I have remained healthy enough to keep on biking, running along beside Zoe as she learned to ride without training wheels. It was time for the Burley to vacate the garage to make room for new, health-affirming toys.

Today the Burley went to it’s next home. My friend, Sue, received her cancer diagnosis shortly after the news that she was pregnant with her second child. After her daughter’s healthy delivery, she went through chemotherapy (with my beloved nurse, Beth). This summer she celebrates the word “remission” as the fuzzy hair grows on her head. She and her two blonde daughters will make good use of the Burley.

Sue’s gratitude when I dropped the Burley off looked just like mine did 2 years ago. My only instructions to her were to pass it on to another eager new-lease-on-life parent when the time came. And I’m certain that time will come for her as it has for me.

The back of the Burley has a small heart on it. This is in honor of JD and Allison’s son, Caleb (whose name means “strong heart”), who was born directly into heaven a year before Allison’s own cancer journey. At Caleb’s funeral, J.D. encouraged us to do something new in honor of Caleb. This bike trailer was part of my something new to honor Caleb. And, now, it’s off to enhance someone else’s “new normal.”

Thank you Allison, JD, Paul, and Kristen. And Caleb. The love just keeps on rollin’

a great big ball of love

heartIt has been at least a year since Zoe and I were driving in the car and our silence was broken by Zoe saying, “Raise your hand if you think I am a great big ball of love.”

I raised my hand.

Over a week ago I celebrated my 37th birthday (yahoo!). I went to bed that night having been surrounded by love all day. A latte in bed in the morning, breakfast made by a dear friend, lunch made by another, truffles delivered by yet another, my parents taking us out in the boat and coming over that night with a card and a frozen pie (a long story on that family joke) and so many other cards, gifts, etc. etc.. I was overcome.

As I waited for sleep, what ran through my head was the line from the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth.” It was: “for the love that from our birth over and around us lies…Lord of all, to thee we raise this our joyful hymn of praise.”

I felt as though on my birthday 37 years before, my parents had packed me tight full of love, like a well-packed Michigan snowball and had slowly built that ball until it was big enough to roll on its own. And ever since it has been rolling it has gathered impossibly more and more as it has rolled until now it is/I am “a great big ball of love.”

I can only hope that Mark and I pack Zoe good and tight full of love before sending her on her way. And I hope she’ll always raise her hand when asked to confirm that she is, indeed, a great big ball of love.