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For years I have talked to my mom on the way to work.

Last year, around this time, I was taking a new route and in the morning there was this moment where I drove past a cattle ranch.  It was in a basin, often with a mist of fog filling the bowl, and this time of year it was moments after the most lovely parts of pretty sunrises.

I would interupt whatever we were talking about to say, “good morning, cows”

We talked about my new job.

We talked about her workouts.

We talked about my dad, who was dying.


My dad died, and a few months later my route to work changed.  I didn’t see the cows in their fog bowl anymore.  Time passed and things happened.  In July my work route returned and I now drive past the cows again.  The light is changing and it is starting to feel more and more like the days last fall.  The cows are there, the basin filled with fog, conversations with my mom.

Different topics now.


I keep thinking of reasons to go to Illinois.  I really want to see the pumpkin festival this year.  I miss my first in-laws because I didn’t get much of a visit this summer.  It is a pretty time of year up there.  Last year I was there a lot.  Some trips were planned, others were drop-everything, others were for memorials and hugs.  September lacks travel for me – but October is filled up, there isn’t a right time to go up there.  Not this fall.


I’ve been trying to wrap my head around beginning my fundraising for Free to Breathe.  This lung cancer conference was amazing last year, their devotion to young researchers and bringing deep opportunities for involvement for laypeople, caregivers, and survivors is wonderful.  It is an organization pitched perfectly to the way I think about disease and healthcare and what we can be when we work together.


I was sitting outside at the Free to Breathe conference eating a breakfast sandwich, looking at a fountain, and talking to mom on the phone when my heart really understood how close my dad was to dying.


What I can do this year is fundraise and volunteer.  I might ask you to volunteer too, or donate, or hug me when you see me.

There isn’t enough research.

There isn’t enough understanding.

Not everyone “earns” their lung cancer.

I like Dragon*Con, I even like That Guy.

Every year he brings his zealot enthusiasm with him.  He doesn’t care if Han shot first.  He’s not going to cut a b!tch over Marvel vs DC.  If he said Jean Luc Picard was the best starship captain ever nobody would argue, but he’d never say it out loud.

He is as much a pillar at the parade as the water bottle guy.  He has a great spot and he gets there early every year – he isn’t about to miss out on the spectacle.

He is just so damn worried about us.


There are 7,000 PARTICIPANTS in the parade.  The route is 9/10ths of a mile long and is often that deep with people.  Men and women march in body paint and just enough material to not get arrested (everyone has dimpled flesh.  everyone).  The storm troopers of the 501st often wear armor that doesn’t clearly differentiate gender so he can’t even target his megaphone / microphone enhanced shouting.

I will never know if he sees thousands of people routing for the good guy.  Imagining a day when we can be peaceful with each other and with aliens.  I don’t know if he understands the millions of words that were read and watched about justice and kindness and moral correctness.  The monologues about rising up to be a better person.  I doubt it.  That isn’t all we read either, to be sure, but still.

He is so worried about a group of people watching a parade on a beautiful Saturday morning that he never misses it.

I wish he knew we’d be happy to share our joy if he’d just put his sign down and be there with us.