After I told Jen that yes, I will campaign on behalf of LLS, she immediately inundated me with paperwork. Disclosures, disclaimers, addresses, lingo to use (which I totally changed), etc., we all pretty much had to sign our names a zillion times in agreement. There was also my personal favorite check box entitled: “I Don’t Care How Many Horrible Pictures or Videos Are Released These Next 10 Weeks, They Will ALL Still Be Used for the Secondary Purpose of Allowing Your Shallow Friends to Make Fun of You More Than Usual.”
There was also an entire Bio which we had to complete. One question read as follows: Do you have a personal honoree and if so, what is their story?
By now you all know I can talk forever, so to cram someone’s story into 3 sentences is almost an impossibility for me; picking just one honoree was even more difficult. So of course, I didn’t. I listed 5.
The first two were my fellow Bone Marrow Transplant recipients, Kurt and Jeff. Kurt was in the room to my right; Jeff was in the room to my left. The proverbial rose between two thorns, and I reminded them of this daily. It’s amazing how closely and instantly you can bond with another human being in the midst of crisis, especially as you fight the same fight. They both fought hard and courageously; and they both lost the battle.
I also listed my Bone Marrow Donor, Beth Robison. What an amazing person to give so selflessly and be used as an instrument to save a complete stranger’s life. A donor, in my opinion, epitomizes the fact that we are all in this together – life and its challenges.
Greyson. He is my special little honoree, as he is all of ours who are in this campaign together. I love his laugh, I love his smile, and I love that he is fighting leukemia like a champ at age 4.
There was one final person on my honoree list. His name is Donnie Begue. He too, was from the village of Minerva. We grew up together, mostly in church. Donnie was great friends with my high school boyfriend, so the three of us would *ahem* listen intently to the Gospel as Father Mike would deliver it at St. Gabe’s each Sunday. We’d eat the donuts in the basement after Mass, play football at Youth Group, decorate the church for Christmas every year…you know, typical teenage stuff. (My parents read this blog, so I’m skipping the high points in an effort to remain ungrounded.)
The three of us also went to Ohio State together. The boys arrived two years prior to Chelsea and I, so by the time we arrived they had already broken the place in, which I thought was very hospitable. I clearly remember walking into their crappy mint green off-campus house one day in between classes (no knocking necessary), needing to talk to Donnie. He was upstairs in his room studying, and we hung out a while. I could tell something was off with him, although I also knew not to ask because he wasn’t in the mood to tell me. That’s what gave it away – he was always in a good mood, at least with me.
I can’t tell you the date, nor can I tell you the details. I didn’t know much about it then. OSU is a giant campus, and 19 is a giant age of not knowing what’s going on with your life. Someone later explained Donnie’s mood to me: he had leukemia. And it wasn’t long after that explanation that I was provided another one, outlining the details of his funeral arrangements.
My 19 year-old self was devastated. My almost 40 year-old self has a goal. I want to honor Donnie, his family, and all others who know what it’s like. I want us to do whatever it is that each of us is equipped to do so that no one has to lose any more battles or friends.
Donnie never tackled me when we played football. I razzed him saying it was because he couldn’t catch me; he smiled and said it was because he didn’t want to hurt me, but maybe someday I’d be strong enough to take it.
Please. Let’s tackle this thing now.
Someday is today.