2013: a year of lists. Too many lists. Life distilled down to the best 10…, the most 31…, the top 60…..It was a year where the bullet points mattered and the little space in between seemed to vanish. This was a year where complexity and subtly and nuance weren’t allowed to even arm wrestle with obvious and I wondered if they might just shrug and go home.
And maybe because of their forced absence, we spent our time looking for them. Maybe we paid a little more attention, not in our ever-present online presence, but in our heads and hearts, to the things that are quiet but everlasting and meaningful. Maybe we stopped to realize that life isn’t lists and bullet points, but it’s really everything that happens in between.
It’s a family waiting for their sister, daughter, niece to arrive from surgery safely, it’s the dog with a cheerio on his face, it’s my dad laughing to the point he is crying or my little cousin trying on my sparkly shoes. It’s the dinner with a friend where you think your friendship will end, but it only becomes stronger. It’s your sister learning how to FaceTime and your dad asking: what is a Tweet? It’s the smile on a friend’s face when she meets the author she so idolizes. It’s the friend who remembers Hamborghini and sends you a photo of a stuffed animal pig, the friend who donates so much of what she has to help out a stranger, the woman at the store who shows up and hands you a basket when your hands are full and you’re drop-dead tired but trying to make it to the cashier with a load of stuff that reaches above your head. It’s the lobby security guard who always has a greeting, the new, beautiful, strong women you’ve met when you escaped your daily grind for a minute; it’s the dog who fishes by spending all day staring down into the waves. It’s the new friends who, when you are alone and pushing yourself so hard see that you’re alone from across the room and cheer you on…yell your name…make you keep going. It’s endless and un-list-able, but it is breathtaking. And sure, most of this might sound a cliché, might sound like something we already know. But so what? I needed to remember these things and find these things and I am so grateful I did.
2013 was not an easy year. It’s one that I want to leave behind for so many reasons; but it is also one that I could never replace because it made me believe in the goodness of people, the thoughtfulness of people, the strength of stepping away from the bullet points and into the in-betweens.
It made me pause to recognize those huge moments but also be quiet enough to absorb the small ones.
For that, I am forever grateful.
May 2014 be a year of the novel and not the list and may you all have the time, strength, and health, to read every last letter of it.
“On the best days, journalism is a roller coaster of excitement and possibility – a front row seat to the entire human endeavor. Science journalism, on a good day, is especially so. You never know if you will be interviewing a Nobel laureate about the universe’s stretch marks, inspecting …
This is a really honest, excellent, straightforward look by Erik Vance and Dominic Bracco at making work - good work - when the pounding pulse of the news cycle is beating down on you and nothing is (at least immediately, obviously, and profusely) flowing from the veins you’re trying to tap.
By mid-morning on Valentine’s Day, even the devil was on her side.
We were all rummaging about our desks, making phone calls, cursing the cold, drinking a little extra bit of coffee, eating (read: stuffing our faces with) chocolate we bought ourselves while scoffing at the ‘holiday’.
It was Thursday and pretty similar to the day we’d just left in the dust.
But from her treatment room in Wisconsin, Amelia was sending out a photo of her first day of chemotherapy: “They call it ‘the red devil’,” she wrote next to a picture of a syringe full of doxorubicin being pushed into her veins.
And away we went and away went all else.
It was a vibrant red, yes. It was the color of Valentine’s Day. But this was not a photo you think you’ll see on a day when people post snapshots of flowers or hearts or kittens hugging kittens or some other blumpity-blump that makes us feel good (or bad, depending on your mood) for a few minutes. This was terrifying and somehow more beautiful and strong and more magnetic of a photograph than anything else around that day (and in past and recent memory) and all I wanted to say was: thank you. Thank you for bringing us there with you. Thank you for reminding us (even though it’s unfair and it’s so maddening this is happening and even though I’m sure this is the last thing you want to be doing on this day) about life and loving. About what matters. And yes, it’s trite, I’m sure…but you have to know how this one little photograph means more than any bouquet someone could package. And I wanted to say: my god you are one spectacular individual and you are brave and goddamn it (pardon me) no matter what, we are going to get you through this.
But that wasn’t for me to say, exactly. Instead, what it was for me and for people who love this woman and for people who love someone who has been in this spot before or is now… and for people who WILL be in this place in the future…and for ANYONE who wanted to…what it was for us to do was to just be there with her and then to do what we could to start helping.
And that is what you all have done thus far with us. You have given from your hearts to someone you love or someone you have never even met. The power of being a part of that and of witnessing it unfold is unmatched. They cannot put that in a box of chocolates nor can Hallmark possibly compete. There is no Valentine like the one Amelia gave us.
So on this day, one week later, take a moment to be proud of being a part of that and send all of that good feeling along to Amelia and to anyone else who might be battling this disease….And let them know that, yes, they’ve got that crazy red devil on their side, but they have us too. Always.
I grabbed Leah Latella and headed to the bathroom at Eddie Adams Workshop, where she recorded a beautiful cover of “Beulah Land” (sung here as “Promised Land”) for my team’s presentation. I am so grateful to her and Ryan Cavanaugh for their incredible talent and generosity. Have a listen.