That was a primary point in my sister's keynote speech at Boston's ALS walk this past Saturday. Cathy was diagnosed with ALS only a few months ago, just weeks after retiring from a demanding and very successful career. The last time we saw each other, about two months before the diagnosis, she told me she had grand plans for the next chapters in her life; although she was still figuring out the specifics, "helping others" figured prominently in her ideas. Those plans have changed.
The last time I saw my sister, I saw no hint of ALS. Nothing to make me think anything like this could be coming. We talked about her pending knee surgery and retirement, our kids' college tours, plans for a long future filled with activity. Those plans have changed.
This past weekend I joined scores of others to support Cathy in the ALS Walk in Boston (we flew in from California Thursday night). Family I hadn't seen in decades were there. The morning was glorious, clear and warm after a week of terrible wind and torrential rain (so I'm told), and the location was beautiful. Cathy was honored with the keynote speech in part because in the couple of months since she was diagnosed, she assembled a huge team for the walk and became the Boston walk's top fundraiser.
My family and I also participated the previous weekend in our local walk in Northern California, which was much smaller but eye-opening. I've walked in several fundraisers for ACS, LLS, AHA, etc., but the ALS walk had a different feel. It wasn't until I started writing this blog post that I realized what the subtle difference was. Other walks are all organized around the survivors. This walk was entirely about finding a cure.
It's strange and difficult to return to normal everyday life after two weekends like the past two. I know my sister and thousands of others who are diagnosed with ALS every year don't even have that option, so I'm going to try to take advantage of the time I have. I don't know exactly what that means yet. There are things I want to achieve. There are places I want to see. There are people I love who I want to spend more time with. And I don't want to be so busy that I miss the countless moments of beauty around me all the time.
Photos from the two walks are posted below.
WALNUT CREEK, CA - October 19, 2014
|With some Wells Fargo colleagues|
|Pretty long stream of people along the canal trail.|
BOSTON, MA - October 25, 2014
|The setting near Dorchester Heights along Old Harbor was gorgeous.|
|Boston financial district in the background.|
|Sis & me|
|Giving the keynote address to 1,500 walkers|
|The paparazzi taking family photos|