Monday, September 10, 2012

"live like you were dying..."

I was entranced with the Stand up 2 Cancer celebrity driven fund- raising event- televised  Friday night.  

Tim McGraw got it just right... I'm paraphrasing his song here...

Live Like You Were Dying

He said
"I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
Talkin' 'bout the options
And talkin' 'bout sweet time"
I asked him
"When it sank in 
That this might really be the real end
How's it hit you
When you get that kind of news?
Man, what'd you do?"

And I loved deeper 
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying..."
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you've got eternity
To think about
What you'd do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it?

All day Friday auction donations continued to come to my door, and arrive in the mail.  My phone lit up with messages about the benefit being held in our honor on Saturday.  A dear friend, surprised me with a make over and an outfit to wear for the benefit.  She actually decked me out for fall- with blingy jeans, and jewelry and shoes and a handbag and... I have tears thinking about how big Barb loves.  Really big. 

Saturday morning in the cool and dark depths of the laundry room, I flung myself on the floor, my heart bursting with abundance. Dear Lord, help me be able to take it all in.  Keep my feet grounded, my heart humble and please let me glorify you.  I poured it all out- emptying to fill again. 

And then this from my Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young: "Accept each day exactly as it comes to you... on some days the demands seem far greater than your strength... Your assignment is to trust Me absolutely...  I will infuse My strength into you moment by moment, giving you all you need for the day... Trust Me by relying on My empowering Presence."  

We arrived at MYHA just half an hour before it started and it was buzzing with activity already.  I inadvertently let go of my camera too soon, while handing it to Rick, and we watched in dismay and horror as it smashed on the ground.  Its an inexpensive Canon point and shoot... but its my life line too.  Hmmm, I actually feel kind of naked without it.  

But Jim, Rick's Dad, graciously stepped in to shoot some photos.  These are all compliments of him and of course are just a fraction of what he took.  The rink is extremely hard to shoot in and I am grateful he captured the spirit of everything so well.  

We didn't get photos of everyone however.  There were literally so many people I would have wanted to take photos with and share with you all...  I know I will overlook people inadvertently... please know, my heart is bursting and your contributions were not overlooked by me.  Whether you came just to see me, or to donate a few dollars, or donate an item- or you baked my favorite brownies (Aunt Carol)  it all counts equal to me.  The common denominator is always love and it all carries equal measure to me.

And so it begins with my sweet friend Heather.  She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  She is the charge nurse at the Radiation Oncology department at Roger Maris where I receive treatment.  And she can now add to her list  "bona-fide phenomenal benefit planner."  She incorporated all of our wishes, and blended in the brilliance of many others and blew us away with the magnitude and scope of the benefit.  I can only imagine the hundreds and hundreds of hours she and her whole family devoted to making this a huge success.  She has our forever gratitude. 

The silent auction items were staged upstairs in the lobby area of the rink and then extended all the way down one side of the rink.  I am judiciously choosing a small sample of the items and tables to share.

Brenda to your left below in pink, is another one of the event organizers.  Her and her husband offered up their house to collect and assemble donations and put in tireless hours of work for the benefit.  Her favorite things basket inspired me to make one.  She is a truly generous spirit. 

Larry on your left is the legendary radio voice who announces all of our Moorhead athletics and Cobber football games and a lot of other things I will inadvertently leave out.  Standing with him is my friend Carrie who also works in the Radiation Oncology department of Roger Maris.  It was Carrie who scheduled my first Oncology appointments in silence and then greeted me my first day at Roger Maris with a huge hug of comfort and love.  We go all the way back to high school and I don't feel like I could do any of this without her by my side.

I was so honored to see so many of my relatives.  My cousin Kevin is putting skates on his son Keenen as my Aunt Marlene watches on.  

Our very special surprise guests brought a crew with them.  The day that I discovered my back pain was due to a bulging disc, and not cancer, within minutes of me texting a friend, Bridget Cullen was knocking on my front door having already heard the news.  She burst through my front door and grabbed me in a hug filled with relief and joy for me.  We chatted briefly and then she said "Oh, and by the way, Matt and I are for sure coming to your benefit."  That Cullen family sure knows how to take my breath away.  

The photo below is almost all of the Cullen Crew.

So all night long at the benefit everyone would ask me- Have you seen Matt yet?  I hadn't.  I met Matt's mom Nancy, I talked with Bridget several times, but Matt was signing autographs, and talking with people every time our paths would be about to cross...

Matt's Dad Terry, with Rick and I.  

Our friend Mark with Terry- two hockey legends in their own right.  

Grandpa Terry with two of his grandsons.  On your left is Wyatt who was celebrating his birthday and just turned 4 that day.  Happy Birthday Wyatt!  Thanks for sharing your birthday with me!

It was kid nirvana with Games Galore offering 3 bounce games and a dunk tank... 

Could he be any more excited? 

Finally, as I spy Matt out of the corner of my eye, someone grabs me and says its time for the live auction.  What?  How did 4 hours just fly by already?  The auctioneer did an amazing job, and graciously volunteered his time for us.  

The crowd gathered... and then...

I felt arms go around me... and there he was.  As Matt and I talked I tried to will every ounce of gratitude I felt  towards him to leap from me and cling to him somehow.  I murmur thank you a few times and he says, of course and shrugs like its no big deal.  "So much of this is Bridget," he says,  and I know this is true.  But I tell him its Bridget plus Matt...  its both of them together. 

And I think back to the song...  love deeper, speak sweeter... what did you do with it?  

Well the Cullens give- thats what they do with it.  They give of their most precious resources- their time- their love- their hearts to others.  And they unite all of us in that circle of love.  

Minutes later, Superman is asked to help the auctioneer with a description of the final "package" offered by Matt and Bridget.  Its tickets to a Wild game, and then a meet and greet with Matt afterwards, and then a tour of the locker room.  And then there is dinner for 4, and an overnight stay at The St. Paul Hotel.  Rick can tell you that even his press credentials don't yield a locker room tour.

But then Matt leans in and whispers that he'd like to "sweeten" the pot a little.  He'll throw in an autographed stick.  And oh, so will Mikko Koivo, and oh, so will Zach Parise.

What?  I see people visibly shake their heads- which hockey loving fan wouldn't want to do all of that? The bidding closes with an extemely generous amount being given for the package and I am on the verge of tears... again.  And then I feel everyone tapping me on my shoulder and pointing at Rick as he looks at me.  And tells me he loves me.  And I am undone.  

And thank goodness my friend Shane below, grabs my hand and hugs me, because he knows.  He too had his life changed in a blink of an eye and had his community of Bemidji come out and support him.  He knows the depth of love we feel amidst the gritty in our lives.  

My cousin Pam also came out to see us and her husband Scott on the far right.  Keenen is a huge Matt Cullen fan so he was pretty pleased with his night. 

But the night wasn't over yet.  The band Catalyst was just getting started.  And while none of us had heard of them?  We all agreed we'd go hear them play again sometime- they had a great sound- and were beyond generous in donating their playing for the night.  So we danced and sang while the kids bounced and played. 

I was on about my last breath here... I was running on sheer adrenaline and a little diet coke- which I rarely have.  Our family owes Joel and his wife Amber more than we could possibly ever repay.  Joel trains Nolan off ice, and has literally helped Nolan transform his body.  He is lean and solid and quick.  And FP3 and Joel are responsible for those results.  If you want to play hockey and get results, FP3, I'm just saying... Matt would tell you the same thing.

This is my girlie Anne- she is my heart friend through and through.  We're neighbors, but so much more really.  She got Burger King to donate over 80 percent of the food.  Yes- that was a lot of food!!  She worked her tail off in making so many things come together.  Where would I be without my Anne?  

A benefit on the surface is about raising money.  But far greater?  Are the connections we make with each other.  I was so honored with how many people shared a bit of their story with me.  Whether its a cancer story, or a chronic illness story, or a hard times story, they are meant to be shared and used to connect us, lift us, encourage us- unite us.  Thats what benefits do.  

Tim Mcgraw had some pretty profound words in his song Live Like you were Dying... 

Somewhere lodged firmly in my heart is a simple thought.  All shall be well.  I have no earthly idea if I'll ever be healed of cancer this side of heaven.  But I am blessed beyond measure.  

And I know I will live out my life answering the question "What did you do with it?"  

I'm loving bigger

I'm speaking sweeter...  

I'm just getting started...

How about you?  


  1. and now, i am undone! i dont have words Vicky to adequately tell you how grateful I am for you and that you so graciously share your heart!

    Thankful to have found you! Its an HONOR to pray for you!

    Unitl we have lunch face to face - big hug!
    Love to you!

    1. I'm hanging on to that dream Tiffany- lunch face to face :)


  2. Vicky, what a powerful psot. You sure know how to move me and you are speaking as sweet as ever. Great Tim McGraw lyrics and inspirational for everyone. My sister always says that too - we are all dying the moment we are born. What a wonderful night. Jim did a great job with the photos. And you look amazing. I love your outfit and your makeup is gorgeous. You really look great and your short hair so suits you. I especially love the photo of you and Matt (mm). But moreso, I especially love how your words can impact my life from across the ocean and get me motivated to love bigger, speak sweeter and do more. All will be well Vicky, that you can count on. I hope you take it easy after this mammoth night - I cannot get over all the donations and the power of people. Everyone loves you, you know that right?

    1. Lilly- that last bit is what I would wish for every human being- to fully know they are loved. I do feel loved. Thank you for being part of all that love :)

  3. It sounds like a wonderful night, Vicky. So thankful for the benefit for your family, but also for you and your testimony and your humble desire to continue to turn the praise back to Him.

    1. Becky- it felt so good to see that you also are surrounded by a community of love and support- I felt love emanating from each sentence you used and I agree that its a hefty realization that love is at the root of it all.

  4. You are an inspiration, girl. You make the world a nicer place, it's just that simple.

    1. Hilary- right back at you- your generous and giving heart has certainly captured mine :)

  5. wow wow wow !!
    what a night. what love. what inspiration. what strength.
    how amazing are the people in your life and their human spirt?
    WOW !!

    1. I know- right? It just blows me away completely- undone by all of it :)

  6. I love that song....

    and WOW what a night is right!!!!!!!! You are all amazing, inspirational, SUPERHEROS!....

    1. Yes- it was definitely a night of celebrating lots of superheroes in my life- very perceptive! Wow- I get stuck after that- just wow is right!

  7. Vicky, your sweet voice, which I've always found to be gentle, is such a gift to us all. It tells of the gentle soul inside and that is a treasure, and for us, a pleasure to witness. I'm so glad it went so well, Vicky! By the way, you look incredible! Just gorgeous.

    1. Roxane,

      You always touch me with your thoughtful reflections- thank you. I was definitely pampered that day and I am glad everyone's hard work seems to have shone through :)

  8. Adding my WOW! as well. What a torrent of blessings. Both to, and from, you and your family.

    1. Susan- I like that use of the word torrent- that is exactly what it feel like. We pray it reflects back from us and is magnified somehow for the abundance we feel.

  9. You are truly blessed with such a good family and friends.
    Where is the time to think about anything else but getting well
    with so many people behind you.

  10. Oh sweet friend so much love and so many blessings in all these photographs, my hearts swells with joy. Your heart knows how to love deeper and it is all given back in return. Sending you hugs and wishing you strength xo

    1. Thank you for your perspective Anyes- it is certainly my heartfelt hope that it is given deeper back ... hugs to you :)

  11. It looks like a lovely, lovely evening. I thought of you several times this weekend hoping and praying that it would go well. I think you are SO loved!

    1. I feel lucky to feel so loved... I hope many people walked away feeling wrapped in love... I certainly felt the love pouring from your pics at Becky's party- truly touched by what you did for your sister :)

  12. You have the most amazing BBF's in the entire world. The are working their bums off and having fun, all the while. Wow and THANK YOU BBFS'S OF VICKYS!!!!!! WE ALLLLLL TOTALLY APPRECIATE YOU AND LEARN FROM YOU EACH TIME!!!!!XXXOOOO

    1. Barb- you would be one of those humbly and graciously working to ensure we are loved and supported- you have touched us immensely with your infinite love :)

  13. Robin~ you were one of the first to come along and show me what love looks like- big love. I will always cherish you for that :) Love you to the moon!

  14. So wonderful that all your friends and family came to support you. There's no shortage of love for you my friend! Blessings to you and everyone in your life.

  15. WOW...what a wonderful evening! Was nice to see all of the pictures.

    Sounds like some amazing people were involved in this. How wonderful!

    Thinking of you sweet Vicky!

  16. When I read these posts of yours, I feel empowered by all the goodness that is possible to be shared among us all when love is the catalyst.

    Pictures are terrific! God bless all who participated in this amazing event.

  17. Oh Vicky........ you left me crying.

    I hope I'm doing the same. Intentionally. Authentically. Loving more. Loving better. Loving consistently. Right here and now, no matter the pain.

    I hope I'm leaving no doubt in my girls' hearts and minds that they are

    Hugs, my darling friend.

  18. Your community and friends bless ME out here in California! What an inspiration and so many great things donated and wonderful hearts in action upon action. It speaks volumes of who they are but even bigger volumes of who YOU are, Vicky. People don't do this for just anyone and you never have been and never could be just anyone. You are a treasure and they are all telling you that over and over. Thank you for sharing all this love. :)


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