Thursday, May 31, 2007

Endings and Beginnings

I closed with my Gilda's group tonight.

Those of you who have read this blog for (coming up on) two years now, know that Gilda's Club is the national cancer support organization founded in Gilda Radner's memory. It was Sam's lifeline when she was fighting this fucking disease and needed to reach out to others in similar circumstances. It was what kept me sane when I was trying so hard to support a sick wife and raise two kids and run a company and give whatever energy I could possibly muster to my father in his battle. Sometimes I thought one or both of them would pull through - after all, the odds were surely against BOTH of them being diagnosed with these rare cancers so close together, right? ONE of them should have statistically pushed on at least for awhile. Nope. Sam gone. A month later, Dad gone.

Score at halftime: Cancer 2, Downings 0.

So the "alumni" group really helped me stay sane (or at least go insane in a relatively safe enviroment). Most of the folks at tonight's meeting were ones I'd come to know pretty well... and then there was a new guy. About my age. Lost the woman he'd been with for 17 years. Scant months ago. I knew it was still the right time to close, but I did give him my contact info, just so I can be a sounding board and grief "sponsor" for him. Everyone said some really nice things - how much I'd contributed to the group dynamic, how much they'd seen me grow and transform, and remain a dedicated parent throughout. All of that was great to hear. And my friend Carrie, who had closed last month, came back to be there for my exit. She said some very sad and wonderful and heartwrenching things which I won't repeat here, but it was very sweet, and I left on a bittersweet emotional high. If you've done any deep grief work, I think you know what I mean by that.

Anyway, I will still contribute time and energy whenever I can to helping the Seattle chapter of Gilda's Club. When the And Tears Fell CD is done, part of the proceeds will benefit Gilda's. I will always have the best things to say about the organization and the work they do. But I have moved on from active membership, happy to embark on the next chapter of my life, with solid friendships acquired through the group.

Yesterday marked two years since my dad died. I took the kids down to Alki (which was packed), and they waded around in the meager tide. Then we went into the Swell and had dinner with Ron. Raised a glass to Captain Bear. Miss you, Pop.

My family is gathering here for May Birthdays on Saturday. June 2nd was the earliest we could mesh the majority of schedules. So we'll celebrate mine (5/6), Tyler's (5/17), my stepdad's (5/18), and my sister and grandmother (both 5/29). That'll be fun. Then I get to prep for the arrival of my "big bro" Randy from California next week. I'm excited! We'll finally get the studio all hooked up and not looking like a Borg having sex with a Transformer.

Thoughts are kinda scattered right now, so I'll leave it there and post again when I'm more lucid.

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