Things I'm celebrating today

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, February 22, 2011 11:12 PM

The warm sun inside the cool air. The clouds dotting the blue sky. The weather report that says rain is coming, which means the prospect of a wet weekend.

A conversation with one friend and the reconnection with another.

A lovely glass or two of 2007 Niner Wine Estates Cabernet Franc, one of the best wines we’ve had in a while. Smoky, heavy, with a wet earth and roasted pepper nose and a taste that’s smooth and silky.

The comforting, thick smell of my dog’s fur. His dreaming, dancing feet on the hard wood floors.

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” on USA and a young Harrison Ford.

A hot shower.

The touch of my husband’s hand as he gently moves me aside, reaching for his toothbrush.

The night and my big, California King bed with clean sheets and a fluffy comforter.

Living it out loud.  

What are you celebrating?

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live out loud

Betsy

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 19, 2011 5:31 PM

 

Her name was Elizabeth Piper Rogalsky but everyone called her Betsy. She was my best friend’s sister and I only met her once but I knew of her life and her health struggles for nearly as long as she had them, which was close to 20 years.

Betsy was first diagnosed with cancer in her early 20s, Hodgkin’s, I think. She discovered another lump when she was 30 and on her honeymoon. It had returned. She sought treatment again and again beat it, but the chemotherapy so scarred her lungs that she eventually needed a lung transplant.

During all this time, she continued to work as much as she could. She went back to school to get her second master’s degree. She was going into social work, to use life’s gifts, which she celebrated daily, to help others.

Just a year ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. The doctors were confident that they had gotten it all because the lymph nodes were clean; no further treatment was necessary. But then it, too, returned, and then metastasized in her lungs. Her newly transplanted lungs.

Once again, she and her husband made the decision to fight. Betsy was a fighter, a lover of life, a liver of life. Her motto had long been the mantra made famous by the French naturalism writer, Èmile Zola. “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will tell you, I came to live out loud.”

Betsy had a heart attack and died at midnight on September 4th, 2010, as the clock was rolling forward into a new day. She was just 42. Her passing still brings tears to my eyes, perhaps because she was so young, perhaps because she was so relentlessly positive through everything, perhaps because of my friend.

Perhaps because my sister is also 42 and I can’t imagine the loss. I have a mug she gave me years ago. It’s stained now from too much coffee and the occasional cup of tea. Inside the lip it says: “The bonds we have are everlasting.” They are.

Betsy came to live her life out loud; we’d all do well to emulate that. There is so much to celebrate every day.

So I’m starting today by celebrating Betsy and her passion to live. I'm celebrating my friend, my sister, and all sisters. I'm celebrating life because it can all too often be much too short.

And I, for one, came to live it out loud.

 

 

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live out loud

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