I graduated high school 20 years ago, which feels like a lifetime at this point. I’ve changed a lot since then (who hasn’t) but something that remained steadfast are my friends.
Even prior to Facebook and the convenience of emailing every day, my friends and I write letters, met for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, and generally made it a point to stay in each other’s lives.
Before too long there were college graduation parties, bridal showers, weddings, baby showers. We walked together through every step of life.
We were cruising through life, with the occasional bump in the road here and there but otherwise, I’d sum it up as pretty damn good.
My graduate school graduation party in 2001.
And I think that’s why it was such a shock when we received the news that our Jodi had an aggressive form of breast cancer at the very young age of 35. Our vibrant, thoughtful, smart redhead who has married to her college sweetheart, Brett, and had two young children was diagnosed right around the birth of her second child.
Six months later she’d passed.
Jodi was a pediatric cardiologist in Washington, DC and she was just good. She was a good person who played by the rules and did everything right.
It didn’t make sense, it wasn’t fair, and we were heartbroken.
That was two years ago.
We are still heartbroken. It still isn’t fair. And it still doesn’t make sense.
We decided that we wanted to do something about it. After months and months of preparations, group emails, t-shirt design decisions, travel plans, and FUNDRAISING (remember, professional philanthropist right here) some of Jodi’s high school and college buddies converged in New York City’s Central Park for the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure 5k.
Lindsay, Libbi, Cornelia, me, Amanda, Mel, Carolyn, Dahlia, and Brett (Jodi’s husband)
I expected possible tears from myself as I’m a bit of an emotional being and also, I’m an empathetic crier. In fact, my eyes did well up a little when we started walking but I told myself to pull it together or I might take everyone down the crying rabbit hole with me, if they too are empathetic criers. (I know a few who are, just from past experiences.) (Not mentioning any names.) (Tall girl in the middle.)
After taking a few hundred selfies, which I’ll spare you from mostly, we crossed the start line. Our unspoken goal? To get everyone with a microphone to give us a shout out by acknowledging Team Jodi. After we manically wave flagged down the announcer at the start and waved to Hoda, we were off on our 3.1 mile walk around Central Park. (No worries, we didn’t start with the runners.)
It’s odd because most of the 5ks I’ve done recently, I’m always trying to get faster. But this one? I wanted this one to last forever. The only reason why it didn’t was because we had brunch reservations. However we took our time, chatting about our lives now and our memories of then.
We raised over $4,000 for breast cancer research and honored our friend. We discussed plans for future walks together and who would join us the for upcoming events that weren’t able to make it this time around. Even though there were people missing, they were there with us because we talked about them incessantly.
All too soon we came upon the finish line, however we wouldn’t cross until we got our shout out for Team Jodi! Naturally!
And then it was finish line selfie time!
Totally need longer arms.
And it was find a firefighter in a tutu and take a picture time!
And then it was find a relative of Jodi’s time, which was a perfect and lovely way to finish our time in Central Park.
Now a word to cancer. Cancer, I’ve got to say, you suck. You’ve messed with my friends, my mom, my dad, my friend’s families, children… and I’m sick on your shit. I will gladly walk, run, and shout from rooftops if it will bring awareness and funds for research to finally find a cure.
Won’t it be an amazing day when we kick your ass to the curb for good?
It truly will.