Tuesday, May 8, 2012

There Is Light

This past Saturday night I was a dancing fool.  No joke.  
Blurry picture because I seriously would not stop dancing.
My friend Steph likes to be the one that starts the clap, at any event.  Seriously, any event, even in church.  She's not afraid, she'll start a clap.  And once it get's going she turns to me and says "look what I did, I started that."

I like to be the one that starts the dancing.  Weddings, charity events, disco tecs, okay not a disco tec because what the heck is that?  Anyway, I like to fill a dance floor and turn to whoever is with me (and it's usually my pal Steph) and say "look what I did, I started that."

If you have read this blog for more than a minute, you know that I love to dance.  Dancing is therapy.  Dancing is joy.  Dancing is escape.  Dancing is love.  Dancing is exercise.  Dancing is celebration.

This past Saturday I was at an event to raise money for a friend's charity.  A charity that was created after her daughter died.  

Here's a short video I made describing Charlotte's Wings, my friend Jo's charity.

The story of Jo and her family has always moved me deeply.  She and her husband donated hundreds of books to area hospitals in their daughter's honor after she died.  A gesture of gratitude and love, truly inspiring.

Jo has a group of girlfriends that rallied around her when she lost her daughter Charlotte to a rare brain disease.  These women, in true Steel Magnolias fashion bonded and banded together.  Their compassion was fierce.  Their empathy was boundless.  Their energy and drive was tireless.  Inspired by Jo and her family's book donation, they formed Charlotte's Wings, a nonprofit organization that provides books to area hospitals and hospices.  To date, they have donated nearly 15,000 books.

The generosity of spirit is overwhelming.  My chest hurts with admiration for these women, these families.  My eyes tear up with emotion.  My heart fills with love.  

Jo tells the story of how books helped her whole family feel comfort through the letting go process.  A process my heart and mind can't quite wrap themselves around.

Losing a child.  A baby.  Every mother no matter what your political, social, economic-al state of mind may be, you understand.  You feel for that mother.  You feel for that family.  

As I was dancing Saturday night with a zest for life and appreciation for my health and my family's heath.  Dancing as a celebration of the true beauty of friendship and love.  I got a text message from my father.

My cousin passed away.  My cousin that was a week older than me.  My cousin Bill.

We called him "Little Bill" when we were young because his dad was also named Bill.

He would have been 38 this coming June.  

We never lived near each other but we saw each other every couple years our whole lives.

Bill and I were polar opposites--me-loud and full of nervous energy, him-quiet and always calm; me-always talking about television, him-always talking about (or reading) books.  But he never made me feel stupid, which let's face it, he totally could have.

He was smart.  Really smart.  Like so smart when I held my own playing Trivial Pursuit against him I felt like I should get a degree.  Sure, I was kicking ass in the Entertainment category, but it was all I had.

Bill loved music.  I have vivid music memories with him throughout the years.  Listening to our parents and aunts and uncles listen to John Cougar Mellencamp in the early eighties, before he dropped the Cougar.; B-52s in the early nineties; and revisiting classic John Denver in the early 00s.

When I got that text from my father and I thought about how Bill had battled so hard against the beast that is Leukemia, my chest hurt.  

And then I thought of my aunt Minerva and uncle Bill, his parents.  Losing a child at any age is unimaginable.  My heart hurt.  My head was foggy.  My sorrow was big.

But there is light.  There is light in the strength of the human spirit.  If my friend Jo has taught me anything it is this.  Good things can come from grief.  Good things can come from loss.

So, I danced.  I danced in celebration of life, in celebration of fighting and loving and living.  In celebration of Charlotte and Bill.

Click here to learn about how to become a marrow donor and help save a life and fight blood cancers.

Click here to learn more about Charlotte's Wings and how you can donate or get involved.

Even though I honestly am not sure if Bill liked, loved or hated Coldplay and Beastie Boys, I believe he would like that I included a pop culture/musical tribute here.

This I know Bill would love.  He appreciated nature; he was a guide at Yellowstone National Park when he was in college and I once got the chance to have him give all his insights at the park.  


  1. You have such a way with words that one feels the hurt, joy in everything you write about. God has richly blessed you with a talent that is so rare in a person these days. You use that talent to help others. I feel it is such a blessing to know you and a double blessing to have a neice as special as you are. Not to mention the greatest Mom any child would ever want or need. Happy Mothers Day Angie
    William and Ellen

    1. Ellen thank you so very much for your kind words. You are so sweet. Hope to see you all sometime soon.

  2. What a lovely tribute Angie. Helping to keep his memory alive. Thank you for putting this together. I'll definitely add this to my favorites.

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