Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sophie's Fund - PLEASE READ

The summer before my junior year of college, I transferred from my local Penn State campus up to the Main Campus in State College, PA.  I was 20 years old and took myself way too seriously.  My roommate was a girl I had known from my Delco days  (they've since fancied themselves up and now call the campus "Brandywine).  On the Sunday of move-in weekend I got back from church with my parents to find my roommate, her boyfriend, and some boy I'd never seen before hanging out in our dorm room.  That boy, Jim, became my best friend, boyfriend, study partner, and many other things over the subsequent four years we spent together.  It didn't last because it wasn't right.  We didn't want the same things.  There were control issues and trust issues and all sorts of crap.  We weren't the ones for each other.

 I haven't spoken to Jim in years and years but yesterday I stumbled onto his Face*book profile through a series of coincidences typical to its way of connecting people.  Of course I clicked on it - who doesn't want to see what their old boyfriend has been up to? - only to find some incredibly sad news.  The kind you never want to hear about happening to anyone. 

Jim and his fiancee Jen welcomed their daughter, Sofie, last April.  She was born about a week after Bo actually, in a strange bit of the parallel universe at work, I suppose.  They found out last month that Sophie has acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  The doctors - no thanks to any medical work on their part, as they kept wanting to send Sophie and her neurotic parents home to wait out her "bug" - caught it just in time.  Sophie just turned one year old yesterday.  If everything goes according to textbook, she's looking at two years of treatments.  Two years of direct lines and chemo and spinal taps and life in the hospital. 

Sophie's mom, Jennifer, is an independent photographer.  She won't be working any time soon as she spends her days and nights at the hospital with her baby girl.  Jim has a good job, but two years of intensive cancer treatments, living at or near the hospital for weeks at a time, could bankrupt them.  The last thing they need to worry about is their mortgage payment or keeping the lights on when they're focused on keeping their baby girl alive. 

Which is where we come in.

A website has been set up to receive donations for Sophie, Jim, and Jennifer. It's not just any donation site though.  Jennifer knows a lot of photographers all over the world and they've come together to offer something special.  When you make a donation, you have the option to "purchase" a photograph from a large - and growing - gallery, donated by some very talented professional photographers.  When you give to Sophie's Fund, you get back something beautiful.  A donation of as little as $8 will get you a photo. 

This is just terrible.  I can't imagine the nightmare of taking my precious boy to the doctor and ending up in an ambulance screaming towards the hospital with the word CANCER blazed into my corneas.  I don't have a wide audience on this blog, but some of you who read (thanks very much) do.  If you could repost this story, or just the link, it would mean a lot to two genuinely good people who are living a nightmare they never saw coming.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Forward

The weather was gorgeous a few weeks ago.  Way warmer than it usually is in Philadelphia in mid-March.  Sort of like today.  It was St. Patrick's Day and I was off.  I decided to take Bo down into the city with my brother to meet up with (my sister who lives in town but I never see) Rose for lunch and then wander around my old neighborhood and soak up some sun.  Bo was fascinated by every stranger who walked by our table at lunch and could not get enough of staring at everyone around him. This in between yelling for more bread! and more fruit! and anything else from your plate you want to feed me!  After lunch we headed to Rittenhouse Square and Bo met the famous Frog and Goat and Lion (we learned we are not friends with the Lion) and I had an out of body experience a little.

A million times.  I walked through that park a million times, sidestepping toddlers and brushing past gossiping moms pushing babies in strollers; tapping away at my blackberry, earphones blaring.  Headed who knows where; dinner with my sister, drinks with friends, shopping for nothing in particular, the gym, anywhere and nowhere in particular.  And there I was, pushing my baby in a stroller, toddling my son around the goat, watching pretty young things walk by in their fiercely stylish outfits, tapping away on their phones, earphones blaring, headed who knows where.  I just smiled and kept walking with Bo, thinking I must look a hundred years old to those girls.

My time is over, I know that.  The days of knowing every doorman in the city, of bypassing lines of people waiting, of walking into a bar with my girls and owning the joint immediately; those days belong to someone else now.  There's a new crop of girls - fully ten years younger than me - running wild in this town, believing the whole place is theirs for the taking.  If I'm honest with myself, the nightlife part was over a long time ago for me.  I was tired of the scene and the noise and the crowds long before Bo came along.  But the other parts?  Sitting for hours at a sidewalk cafe talking about nothing on a warm spring night, waking up whenever on a Saturday to roll out to brunch (Bo didn't get his eating habits from the stork)?  I'm a little wistful for those days.

The boy is a year old so it's not like this is new information for me.  I guess in between missing spring last year completely - aside from what I could see from the living room window - and the hibernation inducing winter we had this year, I never got the full illustration of how much my life has changed until I watched younger versions of myself swing past that day.  I'm not saying I want that time in my life back.  It was fun while it lasted but I wouldn't trade the delicious boy and life that replaced those days for anything.  For the first time in seven years, my husband is home on the weekends and every night for dinner.  I'm good.

I just miss that girl sometimes, that girl I used to be.  She was a lot of fun.