Thursday, January 24, 2013

Daily grind brought profound juxtaposition

Elea Frank is the one in polka dots.
Her sisters are Emmi (left) and Ellie.
Mom's name is Vicki.
 I felt bad telling this family I had to leave. They'd just shared with me the worst horror of their lives, a horror you can read about if you choose in Saturday's Free Press. It's got a happy ending, which is good. But getting to it was, for a 2-year-old girl, one helluva ride.

But even before they'd finished telling their tale, I had to stop them and tell them we'd have to pick it up later. I had somewhere to be. A funeral.

Her name was Lisa Nelson, and for several years she was my next-door neighbor. Beautiful woman. Full of life. She has a son the same age as my daughter.

Like so many others, Lisa lost a battle to breast cancer. Having seen her in the last few months, I could tell her fight was getting the best of her. And the other day, as I sat with my laptop in my bedroom, I watched an ambulance pull slowly up to her house. After being parked there for about 15 minutes, I watched paramedics wheel her out. Then the ambulance pulled away, again, slowly. And then I knew.

Her funeral was Monday, same day as my interview with Vicki Frank, the amazing mother of three amazing daughters. Hearing the story of Elea Frank -- her daughter with some severe health problems -- will inspire you. I hope you pick up a paper Saturday and read about her incredible journey. This is a little girl who shouldn't be alive today, but because of the marvels of modern medicine and maybe a little luck, Elea is still here, still a beautiful little girl with a full life ahead of her.

Lisa Nelson
Yet that same modern medicine can't find a way to deal with cancer, a vile disease that takes too many of our loved ones every year. Lisa Nelson was 44, almost the same age as me. We're both parents of teenagers. Both wanted the best for them. Only now her child will have to continue his journey without his mother. And that sucks.

I can't pretend I knew her well. I didn't. But I knew her well enough so that, when she died, I thought about her. How young she was. How random cancer's tentacles are.

I guess all I have to say is that, when live hands you a moment to recognize how quickly everything can change in your life, take a moment to be thankful that, for now, it hasn't. Go for a run. Stop for a beer after work. Hug you kid a little tighter. You'll be glad you did.

1 comment:

  1. I had never met Lisa, but her mother-in-law is very close to me, though several hundred miles away. If she is the daughter anyone could want,I feel like her aunt. I wish I had known her. I feel a sense of loss.

    Mim Shannon