Sunday, August 26, 2012


Scenic Chicago.  On this day, I don't think I have ever seen it so gorgeous.  I have lived my whole life in the suburbs and even worked at a Michigan Avenue address for seven years.  But for some reason the sky is bluer, the skyline more defined, and the view more astounding than ever before.

To the right, turquoise sparkling waters where crisp white silhouettes of sailboats mark the waters.  Straight ahead in the distance the iconic Sears Tower (to those Chicago natives it will never be Willis Tower, sorry).  Two long white spindles above the land.   To the immediate left, I am passing the Field Museum.  A building of treasures that glitter and glimmer and also ones that are dark and dusty.  Each artifact telling a story of amazement and wonder.  Just two days ago, we brought met my brother and neice to spend the day ooh-ing and ahh-ing at Sue the T. Rex, the most complete T. Rex skeleton on earth.  Dylan walked into the dinosaur exhibit and exclaimed over and over (for the whole room to hear), "Oh.  My.  GOSH!"  pause for 10 seconds and repeat.  "Oh.  My.  GOSH!"  This would go on a good five or so times.

I follow the path where the flowers are tumbling out of the planters and the shade is so inviting on this May afternoon, folks are stopping along the way to sit.  Tomorrow we shall embark on our 12 hour looooooooong journey back home.  Two kiddos, a Labrador Retriever, and a hard-top luggage carrier.  I don't which I will need more tomorrow at 6 am...  a shot of espresso or a shot of whiskey.  Either way, we will soon be heading back to our own beds.

But not until we have finished one last mission.

Great Strides.  Our annual walk to cure Cystic Fibrosis.  Where each step is for a cure.  For our beautiful sons.  And so many others.

The scene is something to behold.  Each year I see this scene and have my quiet moment.  I don't share it with anyone.   I keep it deep in my heart and keep a smile across my face to mask my feelings.  Our friends, our supporters, our army gathers at the white tent where our banners hang proudly.  There is mingling and laughter.  But deep inside, I want to cry.  For the good in people and for the reason we are all here today.  I look around and see the same thing at so many other tents...  just different colored t-shirts and different stories about battles with this insidious disease.  Our friends and their little girl in the green shirts.  Our friends in the grey for their little boy.  Our friends in the blue shirts for the memory of their sweet son.  All the colors paint a Monet with movement and vibrance.  Dots of strength.  Dots of grief.  Dots of joy.  And many dots of love.  I can never fully take in the art.  Sometimes it's just too much.

I am yanked out of my moment by military helicopters zooming loudly overhead.  Luck would have it that our nation's President is passing by.  He has been in Chicago for fundraising for his upcoming campaign and his helicopters slice through the piercing blue skies directly over our heads.  The boys are entranced as the behemoth choppers power overhead.  A fourth helicopter follows the original three.  They head out over Lake Michigan and turn south toward Soldier Field.

I refocus after the thundering whir of the choppers has passed.  I find my grit and my hope.  There is more chatting and running after Dylan.  An appropriate family welcome to a new puppy as my brother-in-law and sister-in-law arrive.  The lovable pooch has floppy ears and big paws and she is the bell of the Great Strides ball at our tent.  Everyone adores her.  Then a bigger welcome as our new nephew, only ten-weeks-old also arrives with Mommy and Daddy.  Adorable and blinking away the light through his shaded stroller.  My heart swells with love and sunshine as more family and friends descend on our tent.

We head out after our mingling and the pooling tears in my eyes have faded.  Our family and friends break up and throughout the crowd of other Great Strides walkers and we are on a mission.  In stride with our loved ones we juggle the stroller where Dylan relaxes.  My husband is on the path minutes behind walking with Michael.

I inhale the warm breeze and eye the bobbing sailboats on Lake Michigan.  The walk is enjoyable, and I pan across the amazing skyline to the left as we walk north.  Time passes, and we turn south to return to our tent.  As we are nearing our last third of our journey, I am yanked out of my nostalgic gaze and thoughtful conversation with my best friend from college when psychotic screaming in the distance is now approaching quickly.  My eyes lock in on a cyclist who is yelling at the top of her lungs, "You IDIOTS.  Move outta the way!  You IDIOTS!  WHAT THE HELL?!  BIKE COMING THROUGH.  IDIOOOOTS!"  She is coming toward us on the bike path, riding the opposite way our crowd is walking.  And as we had been trying to for the duration of the walk, we try our best to move to the side...  That is, without stepping into the oncoming traffic of, um, LAKESHORE DRIVE.  I keep shaking my head.  What.  A.  Fool.

I halt my daydream of stopping my stroller, diving in front of her bike, and reading her a scathing lecture in humanity.  "Hey, lady, I know you are trying to go for a bike ride, but we are trying to save my boys' lives.  YOU IDIOOOOOT!"

Wow.  There is a whole lotta attitude in this world.  Even barreling through a charitable walk where to put it simply we are trying to help others BREATHE AND LIVE.  This insane woman has punctuated my experience in a remarkable way.  I tell myself that she is just a dot.  She is JUST A DOT in the whole picture.

Sometimes it's not easy to see the good in the world.  It's often a challenge to step back and see the amazement and beauty of the Monet, instead of the specific dots of color.  I don't ever want to get caught up seeing only the brushstrokes and missing the dazzling entirety of painting.