Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Celebrating Life

In the summer of 2011, I learned of the unrelated deaths of two college classmates within a single week. One lost a long and public battle with cancer, the other succumbed to an undisclosed sudden illness. Both deaths were surprising and sad.

In a couple weeks, I will be returning to my alma mater for my 20th reunion. I am leaving my husband and kids at home, staying with my college roommates, and planning to see many very dear friends. I also plan to get up early to exercise on Saturday.

I haven't lost it. I am still the sleep-loving fool I've always been. I am getting up early to participate in a Cycle for Survival event organized by classmates in honor of our classmates who have passed away. Cycle for Survival is an indoor spinning event that raises money for rare cancer research. It was founded by my classmate, Jennifer Goodman Linn, and her husband when Jen was being treated for the cancer that ultimately took her life. The organizers would like to use the event not only to raise money for a good cause and to honor the charity's founder, but to take a moment to remember all those friends and classmates who have died.

The In Memoriam list is longer than I would have guessed. I don't know all the people on the list, and none were my best friends. A few were people I hung out with and shared common friends with, and I will have those people in mind while cycling.

I've never been to a spin class. I don't even ride my bike much unless I'm puttering around with my kids. And I love sleep. It's one of my favorite things and only became more so after several years with not enough of it. I will probably stay out too late the night before the event, and odds are I will have a few drinks. I am not going to be happy when my alarm goes off on Saturday morning.

While all this is true, the last thing I plan to do is complain about it. We are gathering to honor people who have died and to raise money so that fewer people will suffer cancer. A little sleep deprivation doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice in that context.

Not everyone will be able to participate. Some have kids who don't sleep at night. Some will be getting over an illness. Some took a red-eye across the country for work. Some will come from the West Coast, and exercise at body-clock-5:45 a.m. is brutal. I get it. Sometimes life gets in the way of celebrating Life.

I hope that those people will drop by the event to cheer on the participants at a more decent hour or will consider donating to the teams that are cycling. At a minimum, I hope that in the midst of the hugging and dancing and catching up, we each take a moment to remember those we have lost and to reflect upon how fortunate we are to be able to be there.

If you'd like to make a donation to Cycle for Survival, you can do so at my donation page.  

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