Monday, October 6, 2014

"No One Is Alone" Jim Terry

The title of today’s blog is certainly something that I NEVER experienced while growing up. For those of you who know the Terry family, or those who have been following our posts and blogs, will know that in our family, there were eight children…we were the Brady bunch minus the maid…plus two.  We also had an even amount of boys and girls…four and four.  So any time you had alone was a valuable commodity.

As we all grow up and move out and have our own lives and families, it’s really easy to loose touch at times with friends, but sometimes, even family.  It is in those times when we endure life’s challenges and trials that we may feel alone.  Several people—namely family and friends—that have been experiencing some “rough seas” in their lives recently, have inspired today’s blog.  

The Reilly family, who has taken me in as one of their own, just lost a family member from an aneurysm. He was in his mid-fifties. A dear friend of mine just finished her last chemo treatment for breast cancer.  She is a married mother of three young kids.  Another young couple's daughter was diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor this year. A cousin of mine was in a serious motorcycle accident and has a long road of recovery. An uncle just suffered an accident that broke five ribs and just underwent surgery for a "broken upper jaw." An amazing patient whom I have grown to love in her early sixties was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer that has originated in her jaw causing tooth mobility and numbness. The long term prognosis here is "not good." Open heart surgery, divorce and depression are also some of the trials that are affecting those I care about.

So in response to this, because I do care about each and everyone of you, I wanted to offer a powerful example that we can all learn from.  This is an instance of how support from those around you can make you feel accomplished, help you succeed, make you feel loved and make you feel as though you are not alone.

Is anyone familiar with Hawaii?  Well it was one of their many magical late spring days in 2006 that encompass bright blue skies, billowy white clouds overhead and a gentle warm breeze off of the Pacific Ocean.  We met at the Outrigger Resort on the Kona side of the big island. On this particular day it was the beginning of a half marathon, or a thirteen and a half mile trek, for a young woman in her seventies…actually seventy-three to be exact.  Her name was Caryl Reilly.   

Side note here…WHO in their RIGHT MIND runs marathons in there forties or fifties let alone in there seventies? ;) Surely to compete and complete a marathon at half that age is an achievement but there is some more information you need to know about this particular competitor. 

She suffered a stroke when she was only thirty-five years old and slipped into a coma for over a week.  She had lost some of her motor skills because of this and had to relearn how to speak, to eat, to write and to do the simplest of tasks that you and I may take for granted on a day-to-day basis.   She said she was running in this marathon because she “still could” and because she was raising money for the American Stroke Association to help others in need that had faced the same affliction she did.  She also was a mother of five children, a wife of fifty-four years at that time, served as the president of the Dekalb Stroke Club for several years in her local community and ran a successful property management/realtor business.

The race began and spirits were high. Most of her immediate family that was there to support her, including myself, were captivated by the marathon spirit.  I hadn’t planned on it, nor did the Reilly family that were there to support her, but we all ended up walking and running the whole way with this fierce competitor.  Her spirit that day was intoxicating. 

It was about mile number eleven when you could see the fatigue start to set in.   The dismal look of failure in her eyes began to be displayed.   She would have to stop and rest, quite frequently now, and find a place to sit down for a minute to help ease the pain of blisters on her feet, chronic arthritis throughout her joints and the first stages of restless leg she was experiencing that would last throughout the rest of her life.  Would this be the end of her journey that she worked so diligently to accomplish? ...Months of training down the drain?  It was at that moment when she felt all alone and defeated that her family, still by her side, gave her the encouragement and strength she needed.   

Have you ever seen a wilted plant?  If so, have you ever taken that same plant and then watered it?  Generally within minutes, you can see a difference in the strength of the stem of the plant and can easily witness the vitality that returns to the plant’s extremities and allows it to go on.  Caryl was no different this day.  She not only completed her half marathon due to the strength of her family that supported her, but in the last quarter mile, she left us all in the dust.  She could see that her end goal was within reach and embraced the warmth and the cheers of encouragement from the crowds that lined the streets to welcome her home.

I firmly believe in the power of music.  So to those of my family and friends—you know who you are—that have shared with me some hard times you have been experiencing, listen to the words of this video I made for you and remember to look around in those times when you are feeling defeated or in those times of sorrow and despair and realize…that “No One Is Alone.”  

In loving memory of Caryl M. Reilly 1932-2010 and Tim R. Reilly 1957-2014.

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