“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” ― Tom Wolfe
Our shuttle bus to the breast cancer conference wasn't coming until 12:30 pm the next day. So that was pure bonus for us to be able to get up early and head out. We wanted to visit the 9/11 Memorial, and with Grand Central Station just a few blocks from our hotel, we set out on a walk to find it.
We knew it was morning "rush hour," and we were sucked right into the midst of the crazy masses of people, making their way through the city. We stopped a time or two for a quick photo, but needed to keep going so we could get where we wanted to go.
And thank goodness, for Chery and Jenna being able to figure out the systems. I have such an inability to process very much with the high amounts of stimulation going on around me. So they were my most excellent navigation partners, and managed to guide me through the chaos really well.
My first experience of the New York Subway System, was when I was 17 and traveling with our Youth Group. I recall how it was filled with homeless people, begging for money. I remember the strong smell of urine and body stench, filling the air of the underground tunnels. I felt unsafe, and scared to get too close to anything.
What a difference this time! The Subways were much cleaner, with no discernible stench, and no homeless begging in the tunnels either. I didn't feel uneasy in any way.
In fact, we got a kick out of the humor in the signs along the inner walls of the train.
We had asked several people where we should get off the train- and they were spot on. It was just a couple of blocks from where we exited the train.
It was raining steadily, still. Misty and grey outside. As we walked around the reflection pools, there was a solemness in the air around us. We didn't have enough hours, to fully go through the museum, but we took our time walking the grounds, around the pools, still trying to fathom what had happened.
We could see we were near a body of water, just a few blocks away, and so we decided to keep walking down to the edge, to see where we were at.
Just off to the left of this picture, was a very faint outline of the Statue of Liberty, and we saw ferry boats cruising by us going to and from that direction. But it was too foggy, to see very much.
Despite the steady rain, I was entranced with the trees still having leaves of multi colors, in so many places.
With our need to get back to the hotel for the shuttle, we started our walk back, stumbling across a pizza place that made for a quick and tasty lunch. We made it back to our hotel, in time to get on our shuttle bus and drive the 20 minutes to the conference site.
We drove up to the site, and were taken up to the registration area. It was a beautiful, modern building, with contemporary decor, sitting on the water's edge.
We started off with some informal gatherings as people registered, and we found a table filled with healthy snack options, that was replenished continuously.
These were chairs hung near the windows overlooking the river.
The sights outside were spectacular. (Photos with sunshine taken the last day.)
It wasn't long and we were seated at tables as the presenters began the breast cancer conference. It was truly humbling to me, to be surrounded by people who saw the need for programs for those of us with stage iv, metastatic breast cancer. It was through the Pfizer Avon Foundation, that all of our programs had garnered funds to put our programs in place. It was truly inspiring to see Oncologists, and Psychologists, and Patient Navigators, who truly understood the needs of those of us living with stage iv breast cancer. The afternoon flew by.
That evening, we had been invited to a reception followed by a formal dinner, to wrap up our first night. It wasn't until we ventured downstairs, and were shown the door to go into the lower part of the building that I saw this jaw-dropping sign. Would any of you happen to be a fan of the tv show on Food Network called "Top Chef?" I would!! Were we really going to be eating at a Tom Colicchio restaurant?
We not only ate dinner there, we had lunch there the next day and with better lighting I managed a few photos.
I loved hearing all of the words being used that sound so fancy in the show- and now I can say- taste so yummy! We had a gastrique of one kind or another, and amuse bouches were served before we sat down. We got the cute tasting spoons, with one little bite of really good flavors and different spice combinations that made for an interesting dinner experience. I was so excited to return home and discover that the newest Top Chef show, has just started!
So with our bellies full, we were excited to walk over to Rockefeller Plaza and find the tree that we had heard was already lit.
I knew I was running on empty. My legs feeling heavy and achy. But I didn't want to miss out, either.
So we walked.
Getting nearer and nearer.
Until suddenly there were barricades everywhere. And we were stuck on the wrong side of them. It seemed as though there were thousands of people packed along the streets, not able to move anywhere.
It seemed, everywhere we went, people were helpful in telling us what to expect. There were a multitude of police officers, and firefighters everywhere. One in particular was very helpful to us. After waiting for a long time for people to move, and nothing happening, he gave us an idea.
"Walk down the block, and ask if you can go across the street to the TGI-Fridays on the other side of the block. That should get you across, then through."
So we took off, walking down, and approaching a young officer. But she was firm in her response, "no." The barricades wouldn't be moving for at least another hour and we'd just have to wait.
So we ventured back towards the group of officers. And Chery in her insightful and professional ways, spoke very softly in the officer's ear, glancing at me, and then telling him why seeing the tree this night was so important to us.
He had surmised this might be the case, nodding at the breast cancer conference bags over our shoulders.
I was too tired to shed tears, although I could have easily done so- his response was instantaneous. In short order, the barricades parted, and we were ushered through. But he didn't just leave us to fend for ourselves, he escorted us down the block and 1/2, clearing the way, to the area where we could view the tree. When other officers would call out "hey, you can't go there!" He would affirm that we could, that we were with him and it was ok. And we'd be allowed to keep going.
All I had were images flooding my head, of 9/11, and how New York police officers and fire fighters had led the way for so many. And now they were leading me, for a tiny reason, yet it was a moment filled with enormous humanity.
I felt so humbled, and honored.
We tried to get closer, to see the skating rink, and the rest of the decorations. But a private party was being held, and we were turned away. Still, we had gotten really close and couldn't have asked for a better experience.
I'm clinging to the reminder that the tiniest acts of kindness to someone, can leave the biggest impact, without us even fully knowing.
We tried to hail a taxi for the ride home. But they were all full. Eventually we realized we could walk the rest of the way. I just remember walking around the corner, and suddenly there was the hotel.
As I stumbled into the elevator to go up to my room, I squealed when I saw my fitbit reading for that day. We had surpassed the 9,999 from the day before. We had walked 14,654 steps that day- or the equivalent of 5.55 miles!
I hardly remember finding my way into bed, and going to sleep. I just prayed for rest to find me, as the next day would prove to be a very big day as well.
I had infusion on Tuesday and it went fine. I do seem to struggle more with bouncing back as quick as I'd like. But just when we face these hard things, it always seems we're rescued in some way.
Our hockey community, has shown up, and started a meal train for us again. It's so helpful! And yummy. We've had sugar cookies show up, and banana bread, and pasta, and tacos, and a beautiful floral arrangement. And rides given to Nolan by his teammates. My thank you's are slow to come, but our gratitude is instant and mounts daily.
~All shall be well~